Meaning-Making features new bodies of work by Esteban Patino, Shannon Davis, Erin Dixon & Susan Lenz. As humans, our most fundamental motivation is to make sense of the world around us. Every day we consciously & unconsciously assign meaning to the symbols, objects, & events that we experience.

Meaning-making is the process of how we construe, understand, or make sense of life events, relationships & ourselves. If our primary motivation is to discover meaning in life, then is Art the ultimate sign? Esteban Patino’s latest series Riddle explores the functions & structures of language, & the production & communication of meaning. Shannon Davis’ Controlled Burn conceptual photographs challenge what it means to be a “True Southerner.” Erin Dixon’s Souvenir studies our evolution of systems of meaning through memory, while Susan Lenz’s Found Object Mandalas shows us that meaning can be created under all circumstances. We hope to see you in the gallery! All Artists will be in attendance!

About the artists

Colombian-born, Atlanta-based artist Esteban Patino creates paintings, collages, & sculptures that explore the multitudes of language creation & perception. Over a decade ago, Esteban created a collection of forms that represented a new language, a sort of universal symbology. These forms have evolved into a toolset used to create abstractions, not as a language itself, but as a representation of language, exploring how humans create meaning by instinct & repetition. Featured in his upcoming show Riddle is a large-scale painting inspired by the kid's joke about newspapers - “What is black & white & red (read) all over?” The painting references what our mind’s eye sees when we hear homophones such as red & read.

Also, Riddle includes a selection of collages made during Esteban’s recent residency in Berlin. The collages are portraits that are made from Berlin’s street posters & advertisements that are replaced every week. Esteban’s collages are an archeological mash-up of the vibration & rhythm of the city. “I feel my ‘new language’ pieces directly relate to these collage characters who are made from the language of the streets,” says Esteban. Esteban studied at the Instituto de Bellas Artes & Universidad Nacional in Medellín, Colombia. His work is in the collections of the High Museum of Art, Fulton County Arts & Culture Center, and Microsoft Corporate Collection, among others.

Born in Buffalo, New York, Atlanta-based photographer Shannon Davis has lived in the South longer than anywhere else. She often asks locals, “How long must I live in the South before I'm considered a Southerner?” Their answer is always the same, “NEVER!” Controlled Burn is a conceptual photography series that explores the smoldering act of assimilation & the pursuit of finding a home. To illustrate narrative experiences, Shannon combines familiar objects into uncommon assemblages.

The wit & juxtaposition of the Art-directed still lifes conveys the mood of navigating a new place while offering a reframing of the region from an "outsider" perspective, inviting the viewer to question what is being represented & how it resonates with their idea of the South. With decades of design & motion-directing experience, Shannon Davis chose photography as her medium for making Art. She holds a BFA in Design from Rochester Institute of Technology & shares her creative passions as a professor at the Savannah College of Art & Design.

Based in Carrollton, Georgia, Erin Dixon is a mixed-media artist whose work bridges Realism & Surrealism. The subject matter in her most recent body of work Souvenir is deeply personal, conveying at once a sense of loss, wonder, nostalgia, confusion, humor & melancholy. She considers her practice an act of marking time spent, both in her physical space & a metaphorical space. “Drawing what I see is a way to ground myself & truly remember—an object, a place, a person,” says Erin. “There are days when most of us look at the mediated realities of phone, computer, & television screens for more hours than the actual, concrete world. These different ‘realities’ creep into each other & bleed into dreams & memories.”

Rooted in observational & experimental drawing practices, her maximalist paintings are formed from drawing fragments, which parallel the way memories are accessed & change over time. While the pieces may be called paintings, Dixon considers them to be more representative of the fundamental properties of drawing, that is to say, composed of a tornado of linear marks, & never finished. Her work is often heavily layered, preserved & obscured in acrylic, then re-interpreted as a unified composition in chalk pastels. Her practice involves documenting from direct observation her surroundings, collections of objects, people encountered & sometimes fantastical imaginings.

Erin received her MFA in Drawing & Painting from Georgia State University & her BFA from Savannah College of Art & Design. She is a Senior Lecturer of Drawing & Painting at the University of West Georgia in Carrollton, Georgia.

Based in Columbia, South Carolina, Susan Lenz uses needle & thread for self-expression. Her ongoing series "Found Object Mandalas" speaks to the universal desire for a place of belonging & a sense of home. Working in partnership with her materials, Susan strives to articulate the accumulated memory inherent in discarded things. Her work speaks to morality & the desire for a lasting legacy. She uses multiple of seemingly mundane items to put into perspective the abundance of life & the capacity to keep things as if for a “rainy day.”

Paper clips, keys, bottle caps, buttons, nails, plastic spoons, & old clock parts are combined with dominoes, film reels, old toys, & holiday decorations. These & so many other, often vintage items, are repetitively hand-stitched into meditative patterns on sections of old quilts, bringing an extraordinary new life to otherwise everyday things. Susan has a BA in Medieval & Renaissance Studies from Ohio State University.