“Growing up on a farm deep in the hills of rural Vermont I would always thirst for summer. I loved the deep bake of the heat after a dousing rain, when the buzz of bees and the whir and chirp of insects and birds formed a constant harmony."
Les filles du calvaire are pleased to announce Pollen Song, the first solo exhibition of American artist Ethan Murrow at the gallery. With virtuosity, he creates theatrical and extraordinary stories on paper, exploiting changes of scale to create striking perspectives. Detailed and surprising, his works feature hybrid characters, half human half plant, whose attitudes combine adventure, derision, pleasure and sometimes defeat.
For this exhibition the artist has produced a set of exceptional works that invites to a meditation about nature. In black and white or in color, they are displayed in situ, including a large composition on the walls of the gallery. It is by delving into memories of his childhood at his parents’ farm in rural Vermont that Murrow composed his drawings, so close to nature in which the character melts. This nature is abounding, and they try to tame it by technique, patience or cunning. Their efforts, probably in vain, bear witness to their optimistic commitment.
“Growing up on a farm deep in the hills of rural Vermont I would always thirst for summer. I loved the deep bake of the heat after a dousing rain, when the buzz of bees and the whir and chirp of insects and birds formed a constant harmony. These sounds were especially tempting because they foretold an oncoming bounty from the garden. Admittedly, I may have been listening to these natural arias as I napped and avoided my mother’s demands to weed her previously noted amazing and vast vegetable patch. Now I see how lucky I was to grow up in a place, in a moment, in a family that invested so much into the land, whether it was logging, animal husbandry or growing fruits and vegetables. My own urban life now means I consider these memories with a sweet sharpness and nostalgia. I recognize that we are in an urgent collective struggle to partner with nature, to preserve, maintain and heal the land that gives us so much.
These drawings arise from longing and loss for a mythical ecological past. I learned quickly through trial and error on the farm that any natural bounty involves so much more than my childhood rosy view. It arises from things like struggle, hard work, passion, luck, innovation, persistence and privilege.
The characters in these drawings are mid-struggle, trying to figure out their own relationship with the earth. They are engaged in somewhat absurd and epic tasks, seeking out rare ingredients in the sky, tending to bees above a valley, calling out to clouds for rain and climbing ladders to imagined gardens and Edens that may only exist in their minds. I often position my narratives as self-portraits and these works are no different, I am the protagonist here, who is dreaming of a flowing market basket and may have missed the warning signs right in front of my face. Yet the optimist in me sees these individuals as essential, despite the fact that they may be occasionally misinformed. Each of them believes so wholeheartedly in their goals that I want to believe they may actually be able to bring a soothing rain from the sky. If we all get down in the soil and sniff and listen we would probably be better off. The humans in my drawings are more than willing to try anything, to believe in magic, to talk to bees, to coo a lullaby to a plant in need of nutrients and laugh with unadulterated joy when a berry is at it’s juiciest. I admire their enthusiasm and pleasure in their own pursuits amongst the natural world. Maybe their giddy enthusiasm for all things that contribute to life cycles will rub off on me and others and help us collaborate with the earth more and more.”