Precise admits to being a little bit of a nerd. Now in her first year of a sculpture MFA at Louisiana State University, she has an undergraduate degree in biology and an MFA in visual arts from the University of Alabama.
“Wood has interesting life cycle,” she says. “When it’s growing and living it creates a built environment in nature, it colonizes nature. When it’s dead it’s given a rebirth in a new way when we make architecture,” she adds. “I’m interested in the permanence of matter, in how matter is only transformed, according to the Second Law of Thermodynamics.”
Gabriel Regagnon, one of several Chattanooga artists featured in the exhibit, has two black and white monotype prints in “Fresh.” He explains the monotype printmaking process as painting directly on a hard surface with oil ink, then taking a single impression from the plate. Because there is no engraved or cut surface, only one print is possible.
Much of his work is inspired by classical mythology, including “Diomedes’ Nightmare,” which is part of a series of 27 prints inspired by myth of the 12 labors of Hercules.
“When you get a story in mythology or literature you always find these quirky things that don’t make sense,” Regagnon says. “To me that’s sort of a clue that they’re using imagery to illustrate a symbol or allegory. To me the labors of Hercules have to do with the development of the primitive man into an idealized version, what the Greeks wanted to say was a whole man.”
Regagnon’s monoprint shows two cutaway views of a man’s head with a horse’s head inside. The mythic story tasks Hercules with reining in horses that are devouring men. “How can that be,” asks Regagnon. “It doesn’t make sense. How could a horse eat a man? What it means to me is that the horses represent our thoughts. When we rein in our thoughts we take control of our person, of the physical attributes of ourselves.”
He compares this work to an MRI image of a human head. “I’m trying to uncover the process of how our minds work, and I’m trying to illustrate this using paint and paper.”
This year’s lineup of 11 “Fresh” artists was chosen from 32 who applied from around the Southeast:
• Bauby Tan of Duluth, Ga.
• Claudia Dominguez of Raleigh, N.C.
• Gabriel Regagnon of Chattanooga.
• Hollin Norwood of Chapel Hill, N.C.
• Justin Hamer of Chattanooga.
• Keely Finnegan of Johnson City.
• Mark McLeod of Ooltewah.
• Matthew Dutton of Chattanooga.
• Melissa Precise of Pelham, Ala.
• Taylor Thomas of Nashville.
• Victoria Campbell of McDonough, Ga.