E.Swearengin at Sadie Halie Projects / Minneapolis


To hold ‘em or fold ‘em

October 13 – November 18, 2018

Sadie Halie Projects
3653 25th Ave. South
Minneapolis, MN 55406

Sadie Halie Projects is truly pleased to present “To hold ‘em or fold ‘em,” an exhibition of new paintings and sculpture by Minneapolis based artist E.Swearengin (FKA Emma Courtney Cook). Most recently comprised of gestural and textural figuration, these new paintings mark a shift in her work. Her color palette has been stripped back, trading in visceral greens for black oil directly applied to dark cotton ground.  E. has also veered toward the opaque but evocative symbolism and pattern, a departure from her previous imagery that felt like figures in transition or coming into soft focus.

Polarized with tone and graphic historical cross-section, E.Swearengin’s paintings, depict the “quick print” of assumption in gender and class.  Written like bad dreams and comprised of domestic characters, E.Swearengin illustrates the bed frame as a horned beast, the candle as a bald serpent, the grandmother as a ghost.  A nod to the underlying misassumption of strength, power and persuasion as applied to everyday objects and personalities as well as more generally the second sex. 

Better left unwritten or unworded.
A frame tilted.


Clean up. 

E.’s work creates an environment where things can shape shift. A dustpan grows to become a bed frame in dynamic perspective. We are torn between use and interpretation. Surrounded by small relics embedded like sarcophagi. Characters guarding the perimeter and forcing its action around the corner instead of out of frame. E.’s paintings go somewhere else. When we see them we see a snapshot in each, a small story, as though we are mining microfiche to find the headline. 

Their characters are not of this world and not of what we know. We see what may be ghosts or objects or simply marks drifting through frame.

A tilted frame appears in the center of one painting. The Narrative feels like a page out of a Halloween coloring book with a tiny cat climbing a fence to observe a scarecrow and an old tree. An empty basket sits nearby. In three corners of the same painting are blank characters lying prostrate and overtaken. The cat stared at the scarecrow, a false representation of life with a singular purpose – to ward off invasive interests.

The ordinary is oppressive. 

In their evocation of domesticity, change repetition, truth, fallacy, and forms of life. E.’s paintings challenge us to consider a lifetime and being alive. How do our belief systems inform our decisions and vice versa? Are we assigned to a certain purpose and what does it mean to complete the assignment? 

 ‘To Hold ‘Em or Fold ‘Em’ is open by appointment through November 18th.