A pocket watch, a palette knife, a matchbox; oil painter Michael McSorley brings together the unexpected, the ordinary, and the unassuming through carefully constructed three-dimensional assemblages in “Collections of Perceptions” on view at The Art League gallery, June 6—July 1, 2018.
McSorley merges fine art with carpentry through his masterfully painted and expertly crafted assemblages. McSorley first paints a collection of individual still lifes, favoring curiously humble objects with reflective surfaces, such as glass, ceramic, and metal. McSorley explores the relationships between his chosen items, grouping them aesthetically and conceptually. Once attached together with dowel rods and corner brackets, the resulting assemblages evoke the idea of a curio cabinet—some offering assorted trinkets, others portraying faces and places.
McSorley hopes to challenge the way viewers value and categorize everyday items, places, and familiar faces. Therefore, the meaning behind the object groupings or the connections between them, might not be immediately apparent. After all, “What does a sweet potato have to do with a sauce pan?” McSorley remarked, referencing the bemusing composition of In the Kitchen. Viewers will discover that In the Kitchenwas inspired by a poem, and another assemblage, Possessions, by a painting: one which describes a recipe for sweet potato pie, and another that tells the story of a traveling salesman.
He expects some viewers to be perplexed at his choice to commit such ordinary objects to oil and canvas, wryly remarking that viewers might say, “Why would he decide to paint that?” By shining the spotlight on objects that normally disappear into the background, McSorley has instilled his assemblages with sly humor, hoping to make his viewers smile. Brought to center stage, the subjects of his still lifes adopt unique personalities. In Possessions, a mousetrap seems coy; a tambourine, jittery.
McSorley hopes viewers will appreciate the subtle elegance of the unpretentious, yet ingeniously functional items he portrays. Through his paintings, McSorley reminds us that even the most commonplace of objects have been thoughtfully designed, from the squat belly of a teapot to the woven bowl of a corn cob pipe—both of which are among the many curiosities to be discovered in “Collections of Perceptions.”
Pennsylvania native Michael McSorley received his BA in Fine Art from the University of Pennsylvania in 1979. Since then, his work has been showcased in numerous group and solo exhibits, including shows at the Westmoreland Museum of American Art and the Gallery on 43rd Street, both in Pennsylvania. His awards and accolades are many, including first place awards at both the Paint Berlin! and Falls Church Plein Air Festivals. His work was recently acquired for the Washingtonia Collection by the DC Commission of Arts and Humanities. Currently, McSorley lives and works in Washington, DC.
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