“Brave New World underscores the importance of human connection, more specifically, the relationship to self and the vital role educators play in fostering and empowering students’ creativity for their futures.” Juliette Eberle, curator, Brave New World
Brave New World explores the relationship between Tara Lewis and Alexandra Houx Grounds as mentor and mentee, and the effect each artist had on their respective practices. Their relationship began nearly a decade ago when Lewis was Grounds’ art professor and mentor at Phillips Exeter. Both Lewis and Grounds utilize portraiture to explore the dichotomy of the contemporary moment: the yearning to embrace the nostalgic past whilst adapting to the futuristic present. The duo challenges preconceived notions of authenticity, personhood, agency, and the female experience through their reciprocal artistic languages of iconography and technology, respectively.
As part of Grounds’ presentation, the opening reception will feature an immersive AI print station presented by EverArt. The platform will allow a limited number of visitors to become part of the creation process as they directly prompt and interact with an AI model trained on Grounds’ distinctive painting style. This allows visitors to create their own art print of anything they can imagine, and with the help of AI, the creation will be made exclusively with Grounds' painting strokes and color hues.
Grounds writes about the works in the exhibition:
"In Brave New World, the canvas becomes a crucible where the future melds with the now.
Today, we find ourselves navigating an era of emerging technologies and shifting perspectives, where adapting to the 'new' is as challenging as catching a fleeting shadow. In this ever-evolving landscape, grasping change often feels like a daunting, and almost impossible task. Yet, what I've come to embrace is confronting these changes head-on, embodying fearlessness, and allowing life to envelop me in its dynamic whirlwind, even if it occasionally overwhelms and overthrows me. This is where I grow. This is where I emerge stronger, and more insightful.
This ethos is encapsulated in my latest series of paintings, a collection deeply influenced by Artificial Intelligence. This technology isn't just a tool; it's a passion that drives me to expand the horizons of my own creativity and ideas. These paintings represent a journey into uncharted territories. They continue the narrative threads prevalent in my previous works: the exploration of gender, the intricate dance of time and space, the haunting beauty of the Arizona landscapes of my youth, and those ephemeral moments of magic. Yet this time, the bounds are limitless. These elements coalesce to capture the essence of what it means to be vibrantly alive, reflecting the very soul of our existence in this 'Brave New World.'"
Grounds writes about Lewis:
"What makes this show extraordinary for me, is sharing it with the single person who has had the largest impact on my life - Tara Lewis. Tara was my professor and mentor at Phillips Exeter during the time I discovered painting. She encouraged and supported me as I made my first large scale painting, Technicolor, at age 15, and she is the one who pushed me to chase my dreams of being an artist. Her paintings of young, strong, female icons have always inspired me, and having us together, here in New York City, doing a show of our own, is one of those ephemeral moments of magic."
Lewis writes about the works in the exhibition:
"In the context of Brave New World, I delve into the nuanced realm of iconic masks, contemplating the authenticity of humanity against a backdrop of assigned traits. The paintings depict everyday females adorned with superhero masks, seamlessly merging recognized characteristics from figures such as Batman's stoicism, Chewbacca's loyalty, Donatello's intelligence from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Lisa Simpson's insightful activism. Within these singular portraits, reminiscent of yearbook photos, I strive to capture the veiled essence of these characters, creating a dynamic fusion of iconic traits within the fabric of ordinary life. These portraits invite the viewer to reflect on the fluidity of identity. The familiar yet surreal nature of the paintings forms an interactive connection with the audience, prompting contemplation on the malleability of identity in a world transcending both earthly boundaries and grounded in the familiarities of everyday existence and realness."
Lewis writes about Grounds:
"It is exceptionally special to partner with Alexandra for this exhibition! Almost a decade ago, I was her art professor at Exeter. Being her studio mentor inspired and motivated me to create more ambitious and realized works. This is a direct result of her unbridled determination to paint large-scale, powerful, and ambitious paintings with phenomenal technical skill and contagious creativity. Our symbiotic relationship and mutual fostering of artistic ideas and aesthetics, along with a connectedness as artists, have been central to our creative energy and studio practices. Our enduring friendship is now taking a professional artistic turn as we both navigate our careers in New York and beyond. The exhibit propels us into a shared passion, presenting works that live in a common context of models depicting important identities. Alexandra’s relentless ability to 'think big' has been a compelling inspiration to my evolving studio practice, and her influence is enormous. This show marks a special moment, presenting our connection as artists and the impact of her energy and artistic strength on my own art practice. Ally is a gift!"