Works of Art

Henry Collection

Jeffry Mitchell (U.S. b. 1958)
Hydrangea 1989
Engraving with chine collé and watercolor
22 5/8 x 14 7/8 in. sheet size
Photo: Richard Nicol
Henry Art Gallery, gift of JPMorgan Chase, 2009.11

Floral motifs recur in Jeffry Mitchell’s work, and are further explored in these chine collé prints.  In a chine collé print, an image is printed on a delicate material that is adhered to a more substantial surface during the printing process.  The delicate material, such as thin Japanese paper, is able to pull very fine detail from the printing plate, while also providing variation in color and texture between the print and backing sheet.  In these etchings the rough edges of the ochre paper spill slightly over the borders of the printed area, revealing the layered construction of the work.

Merith Bennett, Senior Curatorial Associate

 

Jeffry Mitchell (U.S. b. 1958)
Lotus Pod 1989
Engraving with chine collé and watercolor
22 3/4 x 14 7/8 in. sheet size
Photo: Richard Nicol
Henry Art Gallery, gift of JPMorgan Chase, 2009.10

Floral motifs recur in Jeffry Mitchell’s work, and are further explored in these chine collé prints.  In a chine collé print, an image is printed on a delicate material that is adhered to a more substantial surface during the printing process.  The delicate material, such as thin Japanese paper, is able to pull very fine detail from the printing plate, while also providing variation in color and texture between the print and backing sheet.  In these etchings the rough edges of the ochre paper spill slightly over the borders of the printed area, revealing the layered construction of the work.

Merith Bennett, Senior Curatorial Associate

 

Jeffry Mitchell (U.S. b. 1958)
Tulips 1989
Engraving with chine collé and watercolor
22 5/8 x 15 in. sheet size
Photo: Richard Nicol
Henry Art Gallery, gift of JPMorgan Chase, 2009.12

Floral motifs recur in Jeffry Mitchell’s work, and are further explored in these chine collé prints.  In a chine collé print, an image is printed on a delicate material that is adhered to a more substantial surface during the printing process.  The delicate material, such as thin Japanese paper, is able to pull very fine detail from the printing plate, while also providing variation in color and texture between the print and backing sheet.  In these etchings the rough edges of the ochre paper spill slightly over the borders of the printed area, revealing the layered construction of the work.

Merith Bennett, Senior Curatorial Associate

 

Jeffry Mitchell and Tivon Rice (U.S. b. 1958 and U.S. b. 1978)
Panda 2005
Single-channel video
59:00 min
Henry Art Gallery, purchased with Funds from Clint Willour, 2009.1

What started as an exploration of Jeffry’s material sensibilities and my work in experimental video became Panda, an hour-long progression of suggestive forms and motions. Created by slowly dripping shaving-cream atop an illuminated light-box, and mirroring the resulting video, the accumulation and cadence of falling material form a strange evolution of creatures and environments. Much like Rorschach inkblot tests, Panda allows the viewer to draw their own conclusions about a series of subjective images.

Tivon Rice, Artist

 

Other

Jeffry Mitchell (U.S. b. 1958)
Within a Motherfucking Budding Grove 1993
Cast plastic on Plexiglas
Photo: R.J. Sànchez
Copyright credit: Courtesy of the artist

In his 1994 Art in America article, art critic Matthew Kangas wrote, “Mitchell’s work, populated by animals associated with fecundity (rabbits, monkeys, bulls), piles figure upon figure and tree upon tree in an outward-thrusting cast-plastic relief that leans casually against the wall. It encases a complete world of memory, desire and regret for lost prepubertal innocence. Mitchell transforms his low-culture sources into a sculpture of high finish and jolting complexity. Like Proust’s book, it masks erotic undertones with labyrinthine formal syntax, challenging the “reader” to become immersed in the narrative flow. The artist’s daisies, bunnies and pregnant “bulb” shapes are joined by a sinister menagerie and, hidden deep in the middle, by a standing, ejaculating monkey. For Mitchell, as for Proust, the erotic is best treated between the lines or, in this case, beneath the milky, cloudy surface of hard plastic.”

Jeffry Mitchell (U.S. b. 1958)
Mr. Unknown 1985
Etching on paper
24 x 18 in.
Photo: Richard Nicol
Copyright credit: Courtesy of the artist

Jeffry Mitchell (U.S. b. 1958)
Peace on Earth 1994
Glazed earthenware and wood-burned pine
98 x 72 x 18 in.
Photo: R.J. Sànchez
Courtesy of the Seattle Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs, Seattle City Light 1% for Art Portable Works Collection

Jeffry Mitchell (U.S. b. 1958)
Counterpane 1994
Earthenware, paper, and lightbulbs
41 x 38 x 46 inches
Photo: Mark Woods
Collection of Kent Matthews and Brian Riney

The Artist

Identifying himself as a “gay folk artist,” Jeffry Mitchell creates work that deals largely with dualities. Using a variety of materials and methods, including ceramics, printmaking, and drawing, Mitchell manages to juxtapose seemingly disparate ideas into beautiful, fragile, and startling works. Using sweet, furry animals and soft, pastel colors, Mitchell transforms kitsch subject matter into a study of complex human experiences, including death, sex, religion, and loss. His work, at times appearing clumsy and hand-wrought, remains approachable and innocent, engaging viewers with his child-like curiosity and ungainly re-creations of recognized subjects. While highly sophisticated in his technique, Mitchell chooses to display vulnerability in his work, allowing both himself and his viewers to negotiate frightening realities by couching them in the comfort of the familiar and a faith in innocence. His work is suffused with a desire to welcome, accept, and even love the disconcerting and flawed aspects of ourselves and others.

Biography

Jeffry Mitchell was born in 1958, the fourth of nine children of working-class parents. After experiencing a largely itinerant childhood owing to his father’s career, Mitchell continued this nomadic lifestyle in his young adulthood. Although his family eventually established a somewhat permanent residency in Seattle, he decided to attend the University of Dallas in Irving, Texas, and spent a semester in Rome, an experience that had a profound effect on his work. After graduating with a BA in painting, Mitchell moved to Japan to teach English and landed an apprenticeship with a production potter in Seto (known as one of the “Six Old Kilns” in traditional Japanese pottery). Impressed and changed by his experiences abroad, Mitchell returned to Seattle in 1984 and enrolled in a printmaking class at the Cornish College of the Arts. This spurred his decision to pursue an MFA in printmaking at the Tyler School of Art, Temple University in Philadelphia. During his studies he returned to Rome, setting up a studio in the basement classrooms at Villa Caproni. Notable solo exhibitions of Mitchell’s work include: Like a Valentine: The Art of Jeffry Mitchell, 2012-2013, Henry Art Gallery; Some Things and Their Shadows, 2009, Kittredge Gallery, University of Puget Sound, Tacoma, WA; Shiny Happy Pretty (with Tina Hoggatt), 2008, Missoula Art Museum; Hanabuki, 2001, Henry Art Gallery; My Spirit, 1992, New Museum of Contemporary Art, NY; and Documents Northwest: The Poncho Series, 1990, Seattle Art Museum.