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A.j. Fries


4 October 2019 - 16 November 2019

Artist Reception: October 4, 6-9pm

About the exhibition:

This ongoing series started with simple portraits of the toys I remembered from childhood, evoking the nostalgia and celebrating the simplistic brilliance of their design. Well-loved and enthusiastically played with, these portraits remind the viewer of the world they left behind when they grew up. From there, I erected slightly more complex arrangements, grouping them as a child would set them up. In this manner, I used the toys to replicate a child observing the world around them, seeing and hearing events unfold and, in their developing mind, reenacting these moments. What transpired where groupings that depicted social and political issues; going further, paintings that confronted subjects in troubling and horrific situations yet still mimicking the various ways children play.

These toys became stand in observers and active participants in the current events that plague our humanity. I made a point not to add any props or change their facial expressions from the blank vacuous smiles as they confront the uncomfortable trauma of the grouping they are placed in. In this way, the viewer is left to see the paintings, which I entitled simply as "The Incidents," initially as a childlike set up mimicking their juvenile version of real-world events. Later, as the viewer looks deeper, they see the stark reality these toys have created. "The Incidents" do not aim to instill any meaning other than what the viewers past experience and circumstances have brought to their interpretation. Where a young child might see a toy flying off a building, a mature viewer will recognize the pain of suicide. By not altering the toys or adding anything to the scene, these toys reenact the pain of growing older and recognizing the world we live in.

Play not only celebrates the toys of our childhood but pairs those feelings of nostalgia within a deeper context. The viewer experiences the fondness and forgotten memories these objects once held and simultaneously face the complex constructs these images represent. This ongoing series creates a play between what was familiar, joyful, and innocent from our childhood with the challenging social commentaries that come with adulthood and maturity. I paint the forgotten memories and etch them into the constructs we are challenged with today.



First Fridays | 6-9 pm

Saturday | Noon - 4 pm

Or by appointment | please call: +1 607 772 0485


OCTOBER 2019 | a.j. fries : play

November 2019 | a.j. fries : play

december 2019 | TBA