PATTERNED BLUE WALLPAPER defines the room. Standing in profile in front of a mirrored vanity table, an expectant mother turns her head toward the viewer. She smiles and proudly rests her hand on her growing belly. Documenting the moment, the mirror reflects her image.

Other works depict a little girl standing mischievously in a bathroom sink; a father and daughter crouched down posing on a wood dock; a little girl combing the hair of a white Cabbage Patch doll; and a woman in a loose red top and plum skirt laying elegantly on a bed.

On view at Thierry Goldberg Gallery in New York, the works on paper are featured in “Sydney Vernon: When We See Us,” the first solo exhibition of Sydney Vernon (b. 1995). Blending painting, drawing, and printing techniques, Vernon creates layered images based on family photographs.

Fully aware of the camera, each of her relatives is looking directly at the viewer, except a woman playing the violin in the kitchen in a work titled “Kitchen Lessons” (2019). Her eyes are cast down toward the instrument. She’s transported.

Exploring identity and family history, Vernon approaches familiar terrain with an entirely unique visual style.


SYDNEY VERNON, “All the things you could be by now,” 2018 (ink, charcoal, oil paint, oil pastel, and screenprint on paper, 80 x 52 inches). | © Sydney Vernon, Courtesy Thierry Goldberg Gallery

 

The sentimental portraits are by turns moving, precious, joyous, and alluring. The photographs that inspired them span 40 years, dating back to more than a decade before the artist was born. Exploring identity and family history, Vernon approaches familiar terrain with an entirely unique visual style.

She casts her protagonists in spaces rendered in a fashion that evokes interior design schematics. The use of black-and-white for some elements and color for others, adds to the perspective and dimensionality of the scenes. They also benefit from a layered effect achieved with screen printing, which she collages into the works, introducing prints and patterns in the form of wallpaper and other elements.

Born in Prince George’s County Maryland, a suburb of Washington, D.C., Vernon lives and works in New York City, where she is pursuing a BFA at The Cooper Union. In May, Vernon was one of five student artists selected by the Brooklyn Museum for its #YourPortrait2020 online art show, a collaboration with Instagram.

Speaking about her work last November, Vernon told Art of Choice: “I’m really interested in sharing histories through a personal lens rather than reinforcing ‘textbook histories’ that generalize and skip over the specifics of everyday life. I often sift through my family photos, and consider the larger climate of the world in those moments. The photos have the ability to directly capture a specific moment as it relates to my family and indirectly reference the a world condition that surrounded it’s making.” CT

 

TOP IMAGE: SYDNEY VERNON, “My Fair Lady,” 2020 (gouache, pastel, and silkscreen on paper , 48 x 73 inches). | © Sydney Vernon, Courtesy Thierry Goldberg Gallery

 

Originally slated to be on view March 8-May 22, 2020, “Sydney Vernon: When They See Us” at Thierry Goldberg Gallery in New York City, will remain on display through July 2. Currently open by appointment only, the gallery plans to open to the public June 10.

EXPLORE the exhibition in 3-D

 
 


SYDNEY VERNON, “When We See Us,” 2019 (acetone Transfer, charcoal, silkscreen, magazine clipping, acrylic paint, and pastel on paper, 49 x 61 inches). | © Sydney Vernon, Courtesy Thierry Goldberg Gallery

 


SYDNEY VERNON, “The Warmth of Other Suns,” 2019 (charcoal and pastel on paper, 79 x 52 inches). | © Sydney Vernon, Courtesy Thierry Goldberg Gallery

 


SYDNEY VERNON, “Untitled,” 2019 (silkscreen, rubber stamp, charcoal, vellum, ink and pastel on paper, 52 x 89 inches). | © Sydney Vernon, Courtesy Thierry Goldberg Gallery

 


SYDNEY VERNON, “For Sam and Al,” 2019 (oil, charcoal and pastel on paper , 75 x 50 inches). | © Sydney Vernon, Courtesy Thierry Goldberg Gallery

 


SYDNEY VERNON, “Untitled,” 2020 (oil, pastel and colored pencil on paper, 58 x 42 inches). | © Sydney Vernon, Courtesy Thierry Goldberg Gallery

 

SUPPORT CULTURE TYPE
Do you enjoy and value Culture Type? Please consider supporting its ongoing production by making a donation. Culture Type is a solo editorial project that requires countless hours and expense to research, report, write, and produce. To help sustain it, make a one-time donation or sign up for a recurring monthly contribution. It only takes a minute. Many Thanks for Your Support.