A Mary Weatherford neon painting.

A Mary Weatherford neon painting.

Gould Center launches five-part painting seminar with Mary Weatherford on April 4

On Friday, April 4, the Gould Center for Humanistic Studies will launch a five-session, half-credit course on contemporary painting with acclaimed Los Angeles artist Mary Weatherford, whose lively, color-washed paintings with affixed neon lighting have changed the landscape of contemporary art.

Students who wish to sign up should notify Gould Center Director Robert Faggen, the Barton Evans and H. Andrea Neves Professor of Literature, as soon as possible (rfaggen@cmc.edu).

The multifaceted course will explore the observation and practice of contemporary painting. Weatherford has chosen to focus on the work of Mike Kelley, one of the world’s most influential contemporary artists and the subject of a major exhibit that opened March 31 at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. In addition to three campus seminars and a lecture, Weatherford will also bring students to study at her studio in Los Angeles, and on a private tour of the Kelley exhibit at MoCA.

Course requirements include attendance and participation in all the visits, lectures, and seminars (above) and a final paper developed in consultation with Weatherford.

The course schedule is as follows:

  • Friday, April 4: Studio visit and private tour of the Mike Kelley exhibit in Los Angeles.
  • Thursday, April 10: Seminar at CMC with Mary Weatherford (Gould Center) 2:45-5:30 p.m.
  • Monday, April 21: Evening lecture at the Athenaeum by Mary Weatherford, followed by discussion with seminar students.
  • Thursday, April 24: Seminar at CMC with Mary Weatherford (Gould Center) 2:45-5:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, May 1: Seminar at CMC with Mary Weatherford (Gould Center) 2:45-5:30 p.m.

In addition to her painting seminar this spring, CMC will welcome Weatherford back to campus this fall as a 2014 Gould Center/Podlich Distinguished Fellow. As part of her time here, Weatherford will install a new, large scale, site-specific painting with neon in the Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum.

Also in the fall, the Gould Center for Humanistic Studies will publish the first major book on Weatherford’s work, documenting her neon paintings and giving an overview of her 25-year career.

Among the leading practitioners of a style rooted in abstract expressionism, the L.A.-based artist has enjoyed much critical success with exhibits staged in the United States and abroad. Her recent series was inspired by the life and history of Bakersfield, California, and the paintings exhibited by LAX/Art. Her paintings will also be part of a major exhibition of contemporary artists that will open this coming December at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. A show of her paintings opens Saturday, April 19 at the prestigious David Kordansky Gallery in Los Angeles.

More about Mary Weatherford, who brings her daring, intuitive visions to CMC this fall.

For critics, acclaimed painter Mary Weatherford creates more than pictures: They regard her mixed-media works as nothing less than “a chemistry of the visual.”

This fall, Weatherford offers an intimate glimpse into the processes of her unique visual chemistry during a visit to Claremont McKenna College as a Visiting Fellow of the Gould Center for Humanistic Studies.

Her creation of the installation will provide the campus community with a rare, thrilling opportunity not only to meet an acclaimed artist during her residency, but also to witness her in action, and see the results.

Among her solo exhibitions garnering critical acclaim over the years are “Manhattan” at Brennan & Griffin, New York (2012), “The Cave” at John Tevis Gallery, Paris (2010), and “Brick Walls and Sealife” at Cottage Home, Los Angeles (2008).

Born in Ojai, Calif., Weatherford graduated from Princeton University in Art History/Visual Arts, was a Helena Rubinstein Fellow at the Whitney Independent Study Program and earned her MFA from Bard College.

Though her paintings are linked to particular places and locales, what her canvases record are emotional responses–– “psychogeographies,”one critic calls them—that employ moody color palettes (heightened by the use of neon lighting), unusual textures and objects that have become a part of her signature style.

Of the “Manhattan” series, a review in ArtForum pointed out that Weatherford’s work successfully “conjures a phantasmagoria of postwar artistic references—from Helen Frankenthaler to Lucio Fontana, and Dan Flavin to Barnett Newman—while also imprinting her own point of view.”

In her evocations of the psychological milieu of Bakersfield, where she completed an artistic residency in 2012, critical response has been similarly favorable.

She creates “not landscapes per se,” wrote Sharon Mizota in The Los Angeles Times of that series, “but more… mood poems: rough-edged, vertical rectangles composed of thin, delicate washes of color.”

Manhattan…Malibu…Bakersfield…and now Claremont. With the CMC installation, Weatherford will chart yet another psycho-geography that teaches us a newfound appreciation for a world we thought we knew.

Along with Weatherford, other Gould Center Visiting Fellows this fall include documentary filmmakers Meg McLagan and Lynn Novick; and writer/translator/painter Eric Karpeles.