Seven years of experimentation culminated in a whirlwind solo gallery show at the Lily Pad in Somerville. SHRINEON featured everything from the murals, paintings and sculptures that sprout from the fantastical and often chaotic vision of visual artist, Autumn Ahn.
Working from the Fringe Movement space in Somerville, Ahn—originally from the Philadelphia area—fondly reflects on the experience and the opportunity to see her work, all in one space.
“It was weird because preparing for the show I thought all of my paintings were so different from each other but having them all together, I noticed a cohesive style,” says Ahn.
Realizing the impermanence of her own vision and her understanding of reality, Ahn’s interests lean toward creating an experience rather than a commercial brand.
“My interest isn’t just about the visual arts,” she says, “it’s about the visual experience.”
Playing with psychological space has guided her career since her years pursuing a BFA at Boston University. From paintings, to murals, to sculpture, to installation, the experience as an audience member is as dynamic as her pieces.
“I like observing my paintings’ effect on a space and how it effects a daily routine.”
“The most rewarding part of that experience was watching the skateboarders skate the finished product. When they were going up, it looked like they were skating up this volcano, and on their way down, it looked like they were about to skate into the mouth of this god we created.”
Stepping into her Fringe space, one could imagine being one of Ahn’s characters: accosted by colors and overwhelmed by shape.
Amongst her sketches, her glass pieces and the remains of installations past, one of Ahn’s darker paintings shines—nearly framed by neon pink, orange and green.
Dinner Party (Secrets) is one of Ahn’s most confrontational pieces depicting a scene plucked from her own experiences. For Ahn, her paintings are more than just decorative.
Similar to religious artwork, Ahn’s work acts as a narrative in the sense that it is meant to be educational and serve as chronicles of the daily experience.
In Secrets Ahn’s darker color palette instantly casts a menacing shadow, especially contrasted against the brighter accents she adds to hands and eyes.
The piece automatically affects viewers viscerally.
By flipping the main focal point—the table—the brain and the eye struggle to make sense of a more or less common scenario. Adding an unnatural plane creates the sense of unease that’s refreshingly jarring in all of Ahn’s work.
This tension forces audience members to interact with her pieces and essentially become active witnesses to the scene in the story line. Mixing media and textures creates a three dimensional feel to her paintings.
Autumn Ahn’s ability to not only present her vision but affect perception and understanding all around her pieces has made her a rising talent. Having been commissioned by Diesel, Converse and many other companies, Ahn’s officially been able to call herself a “professional artist” on tax returns and the whole nine yards, but the title doesn’t come as naturally as one expects.
“I have a hard time understanding what it means to be a professional artist, I wouldn’t even call myself an emerging artist.”
Keeping as much space between her and the commercial aspect of art, Autumn Ahn admits that she would sometimes much rather give her paintings to her friends than try to barter them off to collectors.
“I’m just trying to find a way to entertain myself. I’m just looking for new experiences.”
IMAGES PROVIDED BY MILICA WREN.