Enigma – Derriann Pharr

June 7-29, 2024

Opening reception on Friday, June 7, 2024; 5p-8p

Artist Talk TBA

All artworks are for sale in person or online. See the online gallery to purchase through the Bells Gallery website.

Enigma is a body of work by Derriann Pharr on view at Bells Gallery in June 2024. Enigma deals with the push and pull of transforming the self. Hyper-awareness heavily informs the artist’s beliefs about the personhood of her surroundings as a little girl, as the body of work is a celebration and ceremony of healing from intergenerational traumas and triumphs passed to her. Pharr found documenting her transition into womanhood relied on a necessary examination and collapse of former beliefs. Thus giving the artist the freedom to pursue alchemizing and combining mixed media practices to mend relationships with self.

At the surface level, the artist confronts contemporary Eurocentric ideas of beauty and desirability. Both the physical and internal magnificence of marginalized bodies are widely ignored in the South, leaving minority groups with minimal space to feel seen. Feelings of discontent regarding physicalness have propelled the artist to cope through the act of escapism itself and naturally led to solace in realities only possible through the creation of art. Choosing to draw bodies without the natural form in mind allows them to exist away from the constraints placed upon her own. This newfound freedom of redefining the human figure allows further play and curiosity throughout creative processes.

Building work begins by constructing the “bones” of the surface; gestural marks—reminiscent of eyes, limbs, genitalia, therianthropic forms, and foliage—are placed onto the grounds initially. The work is truly born as color and texture are negotiated through a meditative transformation of pushing materials against one another to reveal how media can become cohesive or deconstruct as they meet. This combination of soft and hard, gritty and smooth, saturated and muted, reflects the myriad facets of human existence that work together to form a person’s soul and identity.

Derriann Pharr (she/her/hers) is an interdisciplinary artist who uses an array of media to further investigate themes of identity, belonging, and abjection of the human body. Pharr earned her BFA from The University of Alabama at Birmingham and is currently based in the central region of the state. Works have been recently shown in the Gadsden Museum of Art and  Abroms-Engel Institute for the Visual Arts.