Baba, Joe, and a horse
Faina Markovnan Lerman, painter/performance artist will present Family Album at Cave Detroit on April 14 with an opening reception from 6-9pm. This is her first exhibition after a 4 year hiatus. Faina is also the co-director of Popps Packing, an artist-run, neighborhood-based non-profit which hosts artist residencies, gallery exhibitions, workshops and other public events.
Faina stepped away from her visual art practice after having children. She says:
Once I had kids, I already new that I wasn’t going to be the juggling mom of trying to maintain my studio practice. Their life, from babies to starting school is so short and so fast and I just didn’t want to feel like I was going to miss any of it. Or be mad at them because I’m not going into the studio enough. I felt like it would add an extra tension and make things more stressful for me. So I figured I would raise the family… Popps stuff happens from home, it’s all one physical umbrella and even mentally it has similarities, as far as the organizational duties.
In studio practice I needed to move farther away from reality in order to have that mental space. And the way that I was in the studio would be long chunks of time, odd hours of the night, some whiskey or lots of wine… you don’t have any other cares. So the idea of structuring studio time to accommodate family life and other things, I knew I wasn’t ready for that yet.
These last four years of longing for that have given me a new momentum now. At first there was that fear of “I’m going to forget how to ride that bike,” you know. Like I lost something, or that a part of myself was gone because I wasn’t doing that. The last year was starting to get rough and I was starting to feel like I’m not an artist anymore because I’m not physically [making] things even though I was doing performance. But my idea of an artist as it relates to myself [includes] painting or mark-making. Performance lives within a different category within myself as opposed to what painting and that language does for me. It requires different things of me that I can’t get from performance art. It’s so personal. It’s a totally different process. I’m glad that I didn’t force it earlier.
Graem Whyte, her husband and business partner, recently built a lofted studio for her in the back of Popps, where his workshop is (which he shares with residents). She had relinquished her personal studio space in Popps to be used as a gallery once they started hosting regular events and openings. Now, she has a space to work in again and created a new body of work over the winter.
The Babas with Mom and Joe
She has taken a more fundamental approach to her work – presenting portraits in this exhibition. She says that her abstract work in the past has been more emotional, intuitive and inner-worldly.
How do I find the intuitive essence of what that is [with these paintings], confronting the faces in the photos and the people in them? I never saw myself as a representational painter and I don’t know if I’ll continue that after this show. The family portraits are a personal journey. The images I chose were both for aesthetic purposes as well as the nostalgia of those people and places. I learned about my sensibility. I think I gained a new confidence in what I can do.
She began these paintings in the same way she would with her abstract work:
…with a few lines, gestures and intuitive marks with paint directly on the canvas or board, even if it ends up all being covered up, so that the memory of trying to find the lines, find the form is in there, and I need that to get me started…
See more, learn more at her opening reception on Friday, April 14. Cave is located in The Russell Industrial Center, Building 4, 3rd Floor, 1604 Clay St. Detroit. The exhibition runs through May 12, 2017.