Wendy Wagner embraces youthful innocence and creates a distinctive make-believe world using painting, drawing, ceramic, soft sculpture and animation. Working in series, she has themes inspired by childhood, pets, family, and fantasy. Images made of pencil, colored pencil, tinted gesso, acrylic paint, oil paint are transformed to create an intimate and surreal vocabulary infused with personal nostalgia and dreaminess.
Wagner has focused on her art making while making great strides in healing from her surgeries earlier this summer. This current body of work shows the emergence of a bubble shape frame, like a “pow” in a cartoon panel. This shape represents a portal or vignette for portraits, other dimensions, or childhood memories. With a crisp, decorative edge, it pays homage to Wagner’s graphic design background and interest in children’s cartoons. These works explore individual personalities and reference endearing and funny moments from family photographs as well. Wagner poetically combines a balance of unflinching realism, abstraction, and humor. With bold bright patterns and by sewing and installing soft sculpture interpretations of certain elements in her paintings, ceramics and animations, she creates an entire “Wendy World.”
Wagner was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor, Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM) in May of this year, right before her 45th birthday. She has had five brain surgeries since then and is currently undergoing a clinical trial treatment at MD Anderson. She has suffered a complete left sight deficit due to the removal of the tumor. As a result of the removal of the tumor, she has lost peripheral vision on the left side of both eyes, thus the show’s title, “Look to the Left.” She began working on the show in early 2012, unaware that she had a tumor. After the surgeries, her work increasingly reflected this void.
“I have this black hole in my brain where I lose things… art supplies, etc.,” she jokingly states. “Yet the challenges have been beneficial to my therapy and my artistic language. Even though I have lost my peripheral vision, I haven’t lost my artistic vision. I’ve been bursting with ideas – It is a new version of my work.” The show at W&TW will be an intimate portrayal into her experience and the first public viewing of her work since her diagnosis.
Also at the opening, Wagner will be debut two new soft sculptures of her design from her Qwerkys collection, the much anticipated “Tootie” and “Flying Snouts.” Designed by Wagner, hand-sewn and made with microfiber and felt, these actual “characters” originated in her paintings. Along with other Qwerkys in the current collection (“Miss Pretty” in green and pink, “Froggee” and “Mr. Look at Me”) the limited edition soft sculptures will be available for sale as will “Fun Face” a limited edition print. Wagner will be available at the opening reception to sign purchased items.
Special Thanks for assisting. Go Team Wendy: ACCESS to Learning, Inc., Diane Barber, Tara Conley, Finch Creative, Juice Consulting, Terri Thomas and Randi Potts, TYart LLC, Museum Quality Art Services and Qwerkys.