Ralph Pugay: Expeditions


Ralph Pugay: Expeditions

November 2017 - March 2018

On display are works on paper that I recently made to try out some new art supplies that I purchased this summer. As an artist, I really enjoy painting scenarios that respond to the different stimuli that I absorb on a day to day basis. I like thinking about my work as capturing moments from an alternate world that is filled with things and situations that we might recognize from the world we actually live in, but jumbled up, as if the environments, the people, the animals, the plants, and objects in the picture are all self-aware and have decided to orchestrate an experience, so that whoever looks might stop and think about the whats and the whys of what belongs and what doesn’t.

I have a list of ideas that I look at whenever I don’t know what to paint. But for these works, I decided that I would start them without any idea of the picture that would result. The experience of making these is very much like wandering around a place you haven’t been to-- time acts weird, you don’t know what you’re going to encounter, it can feel uncomfortable or aimless at times, you try things out with mixed feelings of courage and hesitation, and you gain a new perspective about the world that you might not have had otherwise. I really like the idea that making art can parallel the experience and emotions of traveling without going anywhere too far. Thinking about it this way, you can pretty much go to new and interesting places everyday.

The panoramas next to the work in the cases were based on a workshop that I did with MLK Jr School students. I showed the students Breughel the Elder’s work because I like them, and because they exemplify the type of art that has so much going on, that it affords the viewer something new to encounter every time they look. His work also shows the different and strange ways that our individual impulses and motivations creates stories, which become part of the fabric of humanity’s larger story. During the workshop, I asked the students to imagine being on an island where they can do and encounter whatever they want. Students then drew what they imagined, after which they were asked to pass their drawing to another student so that they can add what they imagined. Each collaborative drawing made during the workshop was then scanned and pieced together to create these panoramas which together depict the different experiences that the students imagined to have on this island.

Imaginary Island scroll made with Mr. Caldwell’s (4th) and Ms. McCarthy’s (3rd/4th) students: Naomi, Keoni, Felicia, Pascual, Treja’ne, Jordyn, Ju’shae, Mark, Marie, Kimora, Joana, Roman, Yuliett, Andres, Ronald, Lewwii, Nori, Barry, Anthony, Zadie, Isaiah, Ana, Azariah, Emily, Kaloi, Ei’Tallee, Akeem, Solomon, Sofonias, Adam, Gioanny, Amani, Clo, Aniya, Aimee, Ame’lie, A’Shirah, Iztlalli, Antonia, Charles and Olivia.

Ralph Pugay holds an MFA in Contemporary Art Practice from Portland State University and is a residency graduate of the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine. Notable solo exhibitions were held at the Seattle Art Museum, Upfor, Vox Populi and FAB Gallery (Richmond, VA), among others. Group exhibitions featuring Pugay’s work include the Portland2014 Biennial, produced by Disjecta Contemporary Art Center; and the 2012 CoCA exhibition in Seattle. Formerly a visiting faculty member at Virginia Commonwealth University, he was recently appointed the James DePriest Visiting Professor of Art at Portland State University and is an instructor at the Conceptual Oregon Performance School. Pugay’s honors include a Betty Bowen Award from the Seattle Art Museum, an Oregon Arts Commission Fellowship and a Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters and Sculptors Award.

EXHIBITION OPENING OF Ralph Pugay: Expeditions