Ever Gold [Projects] presents A Family Affair, the gallery’s first solo exhibition with Minneapolis-based artist Shaina McCoy. The exhibition features McCoy’s newest series of portrait paintings, which offer a constellation of tenderness and reverence based on the photographic archive of a black American family.
Within this collection, she traces her own family heritage using a signature style of thick, glossy brush strokes and almost featureless faces. Each painting is based on a photograph from the McCoy family album and is rendered with bold and affectionate gestures. McCoy’s technique, through firmly influenced by the traditions of Impressionism, has a unique capacity to hover over the precipice of familiarity and anonymity; she gives her audience just enough information for a spark of recognition, be it a face, a shirt, or a room, while also withholding the bristling realism that we are so accustomed to in our increasingly high-definition world. Her images function more like memories or afterimages than documentation.
The usual requisite sentimentality of such personal work is reserved, even concealed, by the lack of recognizable facial features, which are perhaps only hinted at with a particular swoosh this way or that. McCoy’s style of portraiture, at once gooey and flat, rejects a paradigm of artificial facial recognition, one in which our cherished images of loved ones are played back as automated, premade slideshow templates set to generic stock music. Instead, what she offers is both an honest record of a specific family and a relatable surface for the memories of others—a placeholder where one can project their own faded, idealized, or troubled visions of relatives posing, eating, and gathering across generations.
In the current moment, the threshold between private and public identity is blurrier than ever and our relationship to the preservation and ownership of our own images is constantly being contested. If social media platforms capitalize on our archival impulses and our use of image-making for the construction of social identities, then it is a precarious contract between the needs of the user and those of the corporations who manage, distribute, and ultimately control their circulation. In A Family Affair, McCoy has taken up the task of rerouting the power dynamic of this situation and has taken the act of photographic remembrance and identification into her own hands. What she has unearthed is a map for finding our way back to ourselves.
Shaina McCoy (b. 1993, Minneapolis, MN) began painting while studying at the Perpich Center for Arts Education (Golden Valley, MN) in 2012. She attended Normandale Community College from 2013-2014, and graduated with an Associate of Arts from Minneapolis Community and Technical College in 2018. Her work has been included in group exhibitions at Ever Gold [Projects] (San Francisco, CA), Gildar Gallery (Denver, CO), Art4Shelter (Minneapolis, MN), PLOT (Minneapolis, MN), and City Wide Artists Gallery (Minneapolis, MN). McCoy lives and works in Minneapolis, Minnesota.