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Melissa Herrington


Solo Show


Chicago Art Source, Chicago, Illinois

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“IRELAND”, will feature nearly 26 new abstract paintings inspired by her International Artist in Residency fellowship, at the Cill Rialaig Project in a remote Irish village. Herrington’s new pieces beautifully combine her painterly work with aspects of her life and process. This exhibition marks Melissa Herrington’s third solo gallery exhibition at Chicago Art Source.

Consisting of 15 large scale canvas paintings, and 12 works on paper, this abstract series is largely influenced by the dramatic setting of Cill Rialaig.  Located in a restored pre-famine village in Ballinskelligs on Bolus Head, County Kerry - Ballinskelligs from Irish: Baile an Sceilg, meaning "homestead of the rocks" is a Gaeltacht village in the south-west of the Iveragh peninsula in County Kerry, Ireland. The residency’s eight stone cottages sit perched above a sheer cliff.    The setting is dramatic, with spectacular views of swirling ocean on one side and expansive, wind-swept hills on the other. The village was built in 1790 and the fishing and farming community survived the Great Famine until the place was finally abandoned in the 1950’s. There were plans to demolish the ruined houses, until former publisher Noelle Campbell- Sharp in 1991, formed the community project of Cill Rialaig, a retreat for artists, poets, writers and composers. To date, over 3,000 artists of Irish and International repute have been invited.


Herrington’s exhibition draws largely from the expansiveness of this environment, as well as the distinct visual landscape. The color palette of this series is limited to only the colors seen outside the artist’s workspace, inspired mainly by the varying shades of the Irish sea and sky, from deep azure blue to pale aquamarine. Standing before a singular canvas, one is immediately drawn in by a strong presence, with soft painterly veils and swathes of solid color that are paused mid flow. As you move through each piece, a visual “horizon” begins to emerge. Objects and images are not explicit. There is an unmistakable sense of the artist’s relationship to this particular environment and its complexity; the expansiveness of ocean and sky in contrast to the isolation of this remote setting as well as a sense of the mystery and magic of the landscape and its timeworn stone structures.


Herrington explores spontaneous, gestural marks and subtle forms through this abstraction. She attempts to show the steps of picture making. Layers are integral to her imagery and process; she employs under- painting, graphite lines, and subtractive techniques to infuse a work with multiple surfaces. These pieces are about process, one mark leads to the next— however influenced by the world. The works are largely representative of Herrington’s path, which is inspired by travel and adventure, and is unmistakable in her relationships between color and form.

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