Sarah Sleeping

Steven Walls | Transient States
Exhibition Dates: July 19 – August 31, 2014
Reception: Thursday, August 14 • 6-8pm • Artist Talk with Steven Walls at 7pm

North Carolina-based artist Steven Walls explores the collective unconscious in his solo exhibition Transient States. His large-scale figurative paintings depict the states between visual perception, memory, waking life and dreams, while simultaneously describing them for the viewer. Walls was selected by jurors Cory Oberndorfer and Mark Cameron Boyd as the winner of our annual Open Exhibition competition. A catalog will accompany this exhibition.

Artist Statement

Dreams are vivid, sensorimotor hallucinations with a narrative structure. We experience them consciously within contradictory environments often impossible to define. The most effective way to remember a dream is to immediately recall it upon waking and write it down or describe it to another person. Only then does its content become encoded in memory. With my work I examine the transient states between visual perception, memory, waking life and dream and attempt to describe them for the viewer.

Jung noted certain dream symbols that possess a universal meaning for all men and women. He termed this phenomenon the collective unconscious. These universals, or archetypes, are believed to occur in subtle variations in every culture throughout history. In my paintings I seek personal archetypes: re-occurring characters, inherited ideas, patterns of thought and imagery.  My work represents an attempt to access and depict the corollary images found in the collective unconscious.

I position myself deliberately, and not in the spirit of a contrived revolt, in the history of art. I mine the history seeking manifestations of transcendence in the desire to communicate the full range of human emotion and experience. I search for resonance in the themes and imagery of contemporary culture.

These parallels create a feedback loop, a chain of cause and effect. I strive to create an experience with the uncanny; the paradox where something can be intimate and obscure, known and inaccessible to knowledge.

My images are at once both mineral pigment and apparition in the intermediate zone between presence and absence. I explore notions of form and formlessness and real and hypothetical space. The interiors in my images shift and slide from isometric to two-point perspective, like a reconstructed memory of a childhood home, simultaneously familiar and unfamiliar, comforting and disconcerting. My paintings are inquiries into the transient states of consciousness made visible.

Artist Bio

Steven Walls was born and raised in California. Some of his earliest memories involve drawing and crafting “inventions”. A bookshelf full of art books fueled his interest in visual art and his involvement in southern California’s surfing, skateboarding and indie-rock culture lead him further into pursuing creative expression and aesthetic experiences. He received a BA in studio art from San Diego State University in 1996 and an MFA in painting from Yale University in 1999. His work has been exhibited in solo and group shows internationally.

Juror Bios

Cory Oberndorfer is a painter living and working in Washington, D.C. Focusing on confections and nostalgia, his work is designed to reach the broadest audience possible. Oberndorfer received his MFA from American University in Washington, D.C. and BFA from Weber State University in Ogden, Utah. His work has been exhibited at Grand Central Art Center in Santa Ana, CA, Redux Contemporary Art Center in Charleston, SC, Flashpoint Gallery and G Fine Art in Washington, D.C

Mark Cameron Boyd has taught at the Corcoran College of Art and Design since 2004 and the University of Maryland since 1999. He has also taught courses for the Monterey Museum of Art in California, Montgomery College in Rockville, Md. and The Art League in Alexandria, Va. In 2007, Boyd was a Janet and Walter Sondheim Prize semifinalist and exhibited at Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore. His work has been on view at American University’s Katzen Arts Center, the Center for the Arts Gallery at Towson University, University of Maryland’s Stamp Gallery, Catholic University of America, the Hamiltonian Gallery, and elsewhere in Washington, D.C.


Target Gallery is the contemporary national and international exhibition space for the Torpedo Factory Art Center. The gallery hosts nine exhibitions annually–some juried, some curated–featuring a variety of themes, artists and media.


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