Town and Country: Kipp Normand & Kyle Ragsdale
WELCOME to the Indy Arts Studio Series, where you will find behind-the-scenes information such as raw footage from conversations with featured artists, details about artwork development, artist bios, the show at-a-glance, and other details about the exhibitions in Gallery 924 at the Arts Council.
Town and Country: Indiana Stories by Kipp Normand & Kyle Ragsdale
June 3 – July 8, 2016
As the state of Indiana puts its best foot forward to celebrate all things Hoosier in 2016, Gallery 924 puts a unique twist on the Bicentennial commemoration with a two-person show revealing our state’s more creative and colorful side. Town and Country: Indiana Stories by Kipp Normand & Kyle Ragsdale features the lesser known icons and tales from our history in only a way that Normand and Ragsdale can.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Kyle Ragsdale grew up in Texas and New Mexico, witnessing from a young age a mix of vibrant cultures and large wild spaces. For 15 years since earning degrees at Baylor University (BFA) and Southern Methodist University (MFA), Kyle has been painting full time, working periodically as a decorative painter and stage set designer, and making fine art. He has served as curator for exhibits in Texas and Indiana and currently is curator for the Harrison Center for the Arts, Indianapolis. Read more about Kyle on the Harrison Center for the Arts’ website.
Prior to the exhibition’s opening, the Arts Council visited their studios at Harrison Center for the Arts and spoke with them about their exhibition at Gallery 924.
Kipp, could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
While you aren’t a native Hoosier, how did you come to love Indiana enough to create art about the state’s history?
“The best way to describe myself is that I make artwork out of junk…quality junk!”
Normand began as a collector and started experimenting with assemblage and collage. Viewers delighted in the Dada-inspired pieces made from antiques, ephemera, and other material objects, while Normand enjoyed the fact that other people brought their own stories to interpreting the work.
“Indiana is one of the most surprising places. I find just delving into the history of this state…there’s always these marvelous stories and things you never expected to find.”
While learning more about Indiana’s history, Normand discovered there were a surprising amount of famous and infamous people that lived in or travelled through Indiana (waiting on artwork to cite an example!). The artist says he was fascinated by unusual past events and the unexpected ties Indiana has to both popular culture and our country’s history. For example, in the video, Normand rifles around in a drawer and pulls out an old Shinola tobacco can and gleefully recalls the Indiana company’s popular saying: “You don’t know **** from Shinola.”
“Indiana is one of those places that rewards the curious viewer. If you’re at all curious about investigating the unusual history of this state, then this show will be very good for that.”
Kyle, while you’ve had a long career in Indianapolis, how has your work evolved for this exhibition?
What about Indiana’s history did you want to highlight in your work for this exhibition?
“It has been really fascinating…I’ve been going through [history] books and just devouring it.”
Kyle Ragsdale grew up in New Mexico and Texas, but he has been working in Indiana since 1993. Though he is known for his paintings of verdant spaces and people, Ragsdale was inspired by a recent Chine-collé workshop in Mexico and created a lot of new work for Town and Country using collage and monoprint techniques.
He started researching Indiana’s history while painting a fiber glass bison for Indiana’s bicentennial. While looking through the Indianapolis Public Library’s Special Collections, he found there were some interesting books that featured photos with short paragraph descriptions of both mundane and unusual events from Indiana’s past–some of which Ragsdale believes may have been sensationalized to pique the average reader’s interest.
Ragsdale was fascinated by stories like Aaron Burr’s quick exit following his duel with Alexander Hamilton, where Burr travelled to Indiana to collect himself and gathered followers with the hope of starting a new country in the South. His work for this show is heavily people-centric, with references to specific figures like Diana of the Dunes or Hoagy Carmichael. He also drew upon historical depictions of Indiana, like a farm family’s portrait or the first women’s class of IU graduates, and reinterpreted the images with his own sense of color and quick brush strokes.
Have you enjoyed working together? What has the process been like?
What can viewers expect to see?
“The entire show is a collaboration.”
While the two have never done a show together, Normand and Ragsdale studios are located next to each other at the Harrison Center for the Arts. Their proximity to one another has allowed for a lot of discussion, resource sharing, and moral support. Though they did not work together on any pieces for the show, they still think their process is fairly collaborative.
When asked about what viewers can expect to see from two different artists, Normand thinks that his precariously crafted assemblages will make for a great juxtaposition with Ragsdale’s active and spontaneous work. In other words, Normand says, the “show will be eclectic and marvelous.”
“And shiny!” exclaims Ragsdale.
For More Information:
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Gallery 924 is open Monday – Friday from 9 am – 5 pm. Thursdays from 9 am – 6 pm.