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Rib Cages in Self-Sabotage
and Circumstance
Friday, October 22nd
WHQR Gallery
254 N. Front St., Ste 300

NEW SHOW AT WHQR: Sullivan Dunn and Amelia Hutchins show their latest work at WHQR, with opening reception on the 22nd, as part of downtown’s Fourth Friday Gallery Walk.

The free dictionary defines “flesh it out” as a process or discussion aimed at giving an idea more substance. That is exactly what friends and fellow artists Sullivan Dunn and Amelia Hutchins do when they get together. As long-time colleagues with a similar aesthetic, the two women have always been able to compare work and feed off of each other. Yet, the “flesh” aspect took on a whole new meaning for Hutchins when she saw Dunn’s new zebra painting featuring an exposed ribcage.

“It felt like a celebration of release from the boundaries of the body,” Hutchins says. “This echoes the way my work attempts to address issues of discomfort in the body and the way different individuals deal with their own captivity.”

“Maybe it was in the stars!” Dunn says. “Amelia and I were both working separately on new ideas, and after discussing our work, we realized that our paths had taken a similar direction and that many of our interpretations were very much related.”

Other similarities include a narrative approach to animals as subjects and a theme of alienation. When asked about their collections and a conveyed message, both women answered with words like “assimilation” and “limitation.” Hutchins adds that they share a similar emotional constitution: neuroses. Dunn confirms this by sharing her fear of a public stoning after showing her work. “I have some exhibition anxiety,” she says.

Luckily, they will have each other to lean on at their next show, a joint exhibit on the walls of WHQR’s gallery. Earlier this year, they submitted a proposal to the station staff to hang their paintings together. Since being chosen as the fall artists, they have been hard at work developing the concept of imprisonment within society. At press time, Hutchins was still “painting madly” and had singled out a signature piece in her work called “Impervious to the Presence of Things.”

“Nothing is ever what you think it’s going to be,” she says. “Better to feel like you’ve pushed yourself and taken some risks and grown creatively.” The ultimate goal, of course, is to feel that the message has been successfully communicated.

“If you’ve gotten to the meat of things for yourself and said what you wanted or needed to say, that is what is most important,” she says. “For me, the ideas are like mice scratching behind the walls, chewing on electrical wires. If I turn them into an image that makes sense to me, then the scurrying and zapping becomes much less distracting.”

As for Dunn, she is taking the experience as both a challenge and a dream come true. Exhibiting with a supportive friend who she views as an enormous talent has been an inspiration for excellence.

“I love Amelia’s work,” she says. “I think she is easily one of the most talented artists in Wilmington, so I was elated that we would finally have a show together. Of course, the other side is anxiety about my own capabilities as an artist. Thinking of my work hanging next to Amelia’s was a bit daunting, so I really pushed myself to do some things differently.”

Now is the time for both women to finish their last brushstrokes, plan the perfect wall arrangement and speculate on the public reaction. “If people relate to the work it is hugely rewarding, a bonus,” Hutchins says. “I think if you create work hoping for a certain reaction, you are signing up for a world of disappointment.”

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