NU professor featured at Kingston Gallery

Photo courtesy/Sophia Ainslie

By Brenda Maguire, News Correspondent

Sophia Ainslie is usually the one giving instruction while she teaches her art classes. But on Monday, gallery curator James Hull directed Ainslie instead, while her students set up her art exhibit.

Ainslie, a professor in the Department of Art + Design at Northeastern, will be featured at the Kingston Gallery in an exhibit called “Inside Out,” for the month of April.

Hull said he believes being a teacher has helped Ainslie in her career as an artist because the advice she gives her students is advice that she follows for herself. For example, he said, it’s important to teach students to make more art than necessary and then choose the best pieces – and Ainslie always prepares more work than a gallery can hold.

The works in Ainslie’s new exhibit consist of drawings of abstract fine lines in India ink, a simple black ink, and flashe paint, a vinyl-based paint, on polypropylene and paper. Ainslie was inspired by an x-ray of her mother’s stomach she received from her home in South Africa while she was suffering from cancer.

“It has simplicity but it also has a lot of different movement and shapes. It’s contrasting ideas, I suppose,” junior digital art major Michael Pond said.

Ainslie was also influenced by maps of her hometown, Johannesburg, South Africa and sketches she drew while walking around New England.

“I’m interested in portraying a  collage-like space created from looking at the body and land as parallel environments, each with their own mix of beauty and terror. To create a sense of coexisting disconnection that talks about our experience within these environments,” Ainslie said. “Our bodies have become fragmented, in the same manner as the landscape we live in. Social, medical and memory systems become more specialized, and as they do, our focus becomes more compartmentalized.”

Ainslie said she created her works to be full of symbolism.

“The color is specific to my mom’s environment,” Ainslie said. “What she wore, the colors from home, inside and out.”

Ainslie used the white space to represent absence and said she created these areas in a way that they can flip from foreground to background, signifying memory shift.

“It bridges the line between drawing and painting,” Hull said. “It uses color in a very painterly way, but at the same time it has this linear patterning and drawing, that is definitely drawing.”

Ainslie invited some of her students to take part in setting up the gallery. This included Pond and freshman cinema studies major Annalise Murphy. Students helped her to hang up work, organize pricing and even record the answering machine at the gallery.

“It’s been really fun,” Murphy said. “It’s a lot better than sitting in class and doing critique. I like actually being hands on and out in the real world. It’s interesting and I like it a lot.”

A reception will be held at the Kingston Gallery at 450 Harrison Ave. from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Apr. 1 and the gallery will be run until May 1. The Kingston Gallery is open Wednesday to Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.

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