Channel to Channel | November 4–December 21
WORDS Amanda Dobra Hope
At this point in our history, we would do well to step back and focus a bit more on the fragility of life.
In this case, what was life like before our gadgets and technology, and how have they affected us as a species? For the months of November and December at Channel to Channel Gallery in Nashville, you can reflect on this fragility through the perspective of Memphis artist St. Francis Elevator Ride.
The exhibit, Lush Interiors, uses collage prints on birch plywood, mounted into three-dimensional layers featuring common household appliances mixed with human anatomy and vegetation. “If there is any one message in this body of work, it’s a commentary on the fragility of life,” SFER says. “I find the floral and vegetation imagery to be the best way to show this fragility through the delicate plants. As we become consumed by our gadgetry, they become parts of our anatomy. This exhibit explores how the machines become enmeshed in our anatomy and vegetation,” he continues.
When asked how this exhibit reflects him as a person, St. Francis Elevator Ride muses, “These pieces feel very natural to my personality—horrific but also beautiful. I strive to find beauty in unexpected places.” Regarding his choice of medium for this exhibit, he explains that he was trying to push himself and do something more innovative than what he was doing at the time. “This is a big departure from my previous work. Everything I did before was flat 2-D printing and screen printing. It’s like a pop-up book in a gallery setting, still 2-D, but the pieces have a lot of life and depth to them,” SFER explains.
I couldn’t write this article without explaining what the artist’s name means, because of course that was my first question. “There isn’t really a great story behind it,” he says. “I was looking for another name to use for my art, something that could take the shape and form of what I was creating.” St. Francis Elevator Ride a.k.a. Josh Breedan researched St. Francis of Assisi and discovered he was a wild child who eventually became dedicated to something greater than himself. “The name sounded like the art I was making, a psychedelic group of words. It could take the form of a lot of things,” he concludes.
For SFER, a 2007 graduate of the University of Tennessee at Martin, his last exhibit was a homecoming of sorts. One of his art professors asked him to install an exhibit and do an artist talk, showcasing his ten years of work since leaving college. Referring to SFER’s success working for clients like MTV and The New York Times, a current student asked him how he did it. From what I can garner from everything he tells me he has done, including an artist showcase blog he and a buddy started, the answer was to get yourself out there, and then one thing leads to another, and another, and another.
That’s sound advice in our technological world, even as we remain aware of life’s fragility.
Lush Interiors is showing at Channel to Channel November 4 through December 21. For more information, please visit www.channeltochannel.com. See more of St. Francis Elevator Ride’s work at www.stfranciselevatorride.com.