Ellen Tanner earned a BFA in Graphic Design at the University of North Texas in 1998 and worked as an illustrator and graphic designer at Fossil Watch Company for 5 years. She moved to Austin in 2003 where she earned a degree in Art Education from the University of Texas. It was during a mandatory studio art class that she fell in love with oil painting.
Since that class, Ellen has devoted as much time as possible to working in the studio and teaching herself to paint. Inspired by the fine detail and luminous colors of the Flemish masters, she has sought out information on their techniques and has cobbled together a personal approach to painting with thin glazes of color over a grisaille. She applies these skills with a microscopic focus that makes each painting a tiny yet fully realized world, rich with detail and color.
This exhibition features a selection of work from The John Gaston Fairey Collection of Mexican Folk Art, donated by John Gaston Fairey to the Art Museum of Southeast Texas in spring 2017, in memory of his parents, Philip and Isabel Fairey. Professor John Fairey retired from the College of Architecture and Environmental Design at Texas A&M University and is the creator of Peckerwood Gardens. Professor Fairey’s collection of over 450 pieces of Mexican Folk Art, including textiles, baskets and ceramics were primarily sourced over approximately 30 years while on plant hunting expeditions in the interior of Mexico. The majority of the work is from Oaxaca and from families of artists and artisans. There are many works by unknown artists, and many pieces acquired after multiple visits to an artist’s home in remote and hard to find sites. The collection also contains examples of works by several recognized and published artists, including Carlomagno Pedro Martínez and Angélica Vasquez Cruz. Formerly housed in a gallery adjacent to Professor Fairey’s home on the grounds of Peckerwood Gardens, in Hempstead, Texas, the collection is now part of AMSET’s permanent collection. This exhibition serves as an introduction to The John Gaston Fairey Collection of Mexican Folk Art, and features works hand selected by Professor Fairey as key focal points of the donation.
Born in Nederland, Texas, in 1986, Sirena LaBurn received her MFA in Painting from the New York Studio School (2014), and her BS in Arts Administration from Wagner College, New York (2009), where she occasionally spends time as a guest artist. Before beginning her MFA, LaBurn worked as Collections Catalogue Assistant at the Stark Museum of Art, Orange, Texas, and is a former studio resident at The Art Studio, Inc., Beaumont, Texas. In 2014, 2015, and 2017 she assisted Graham Nickson in his internationally recognized Drawing Marathon. She currently lives and works in Cologne, Germany.