You might say Front Burner: Highlights in Contemporary North Carolina Painting has been on the backburner for a little while.
It was 2017. Ashlynn Browning (’02 MFA Studio Art) was feeling what she describes as “burnt out” after the recent election and plagued by negativity and devisiveness:
“Everything seemed to be precarious and overwhelming. I wanted to feel some semblance of control over my environment again and to create something that was beautiful and positive.”
At about the same time, the Whitney Biennial was going on, and she noticed how prominently painting was being featured. Confident that North Carolina is home to an abundance of outstanding painters, she put together a proposal for the North Carolina Museum of Art.
It was good timing. NCMA curators had already been exploring such a show. Browning was offered the opportunity to guest curate an exhibition, and Front Burner: Highlights in Contemporary Painting was born.
“Front Burner operates on several levels for me. The idea was chiefly that painting, which periodically takes the back burner to trendier mediums, was being recognized in a significant way and was worthy of celebration; specifically, the celebration of excellent painting in our state. I wanted the show to contain a wide array of work and styles, as well as different stages of artistic careers.”
The 25 artist selections in Front Burner include pieces by Browning and fellow alumna Carmen Neely (’16 MFA Studio Art) and UNCG Art Professor Barbara Campbell Thomas: “I am thrilled to be part of this upcoming show of NC painting. Ashlynn is absolutely capitalizing on the presence of strong contemporary painting in NC in her organization of this show, and I am deeply proud that UNCG painting is connected to that vision.”
Front Burner will be up through July 26th in the East Building at NCMA. You can read more information on the exhibition here.