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Home / Exhibits / Family Album: Our Stories (August 22, 2023- October 29, 2023)

Family Album: Our Stories (August 22, 2023- October 29, 2023)

From the artist:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 


"Family is the most profound example of a universal primordial experience. It’s a mixed bag, for sure, a marker of time, that which grounds us or disables us in ways that can follow us the whole of our lives. Everything about family continually changes, but memories linger. A curiosity arose about these notions of memory and generational transition with the juxtaposition of simultaneously raising my own children and caring for my mother and my aunt through aging and illness. Their deaths, a month apart, were preceded by the bestowal of the family albums. It was important for both of them to also pass down the details of names, places and stories behind each picture. I did not write them down, although in hindsight I wish I had as I have realized that time and distance mute the memory of those conversations.


This exploration inspired a broadening of focus beyond my own family. I was on the hunt for vintage photographs discarded at thrift shops and my yearly pilgrimage to the Hartville Flea Market. How was it that these photos were not carefully passed down from one generation to the next. These dusty, abandoned piles of pictures begged the question, “What becomes of us when there is no one to remember?” My efforts to animate, to embellish these strangers speak to our own longing to be remembered in some form or fashion.


As I collected more and more of these candid photos I was drawn to the women in these photos and the implied narratives revealed in a stance, a look, a hint of a difficult relationship. I was raised in a three generation household so there was something so familiar about these women. The paintings look behind the veil of their daily contributions, an implied narrative of the complexities, ambiguities and messiness of their vital role. Historically, women are the source of the stream from which we all flow. These paintings serve as a vehicle of remembrance, gratitude, redemption and closure.


It is natural that this series continues to unfold and expand. Embedded deeply in my practice and work as a visual artist is a belief that art in it most fundamental form is a personal expression and ultimately finds its rightful place through the engagement of the viewer in particular and the community at large. It is within this wider context that art is in its most powerful role. It not only reflects societal norms and transitions, but can assist in bringing vital change as well. It is time to invite others to join this exploration of the most common of experiences. As a part of the Family Album: Our Stories exhibition at the Canton Museum of Art I intend to make a large scale multiple panel painting and a digital installation using photos from the community as inspiration. These references will be inclusive of race and gender, to reflect the whole of the Stark County. My purpose as an artist is driven by the belief that art should be accessible to all. My hope is that this particular exhibition, draws in individuals and families in underserved communities and provides an experience through observation, programming and education which inspires deeper understanding and appreciation of those whose shoulders we stand upon, an exposure to a visual language expressing the complex navigation of human relationships." 



the lingering aftermath of a life lived;
the remnant of the treasured family photo,
a story oft repeated,
an idealized memory.
As time passes,
 the story is invariably reframed and retold..
The person becomes the story,
passed on from generation to another.
We hold onto the visual artifacts left behind,
see ourselves in the crook of a smile,
gesture of a hand,
compare our children's first photograph,
to those who have come before.
We look carefully to see what has been handed down
and what is ours to keep.

- Amy Pleasant




Amy Pleasant is a Seattle figurative painter, born and raised in Ohio. Her work examines the most common of experiences; family, life transitions and generational change. Amy's early figurative paintings integrated shape and pattern and were rooted in vintage photographic images. More recent work incorporates less structured figures in the tradition of abstract expressionism, allowing the viewer freedom of interpretation. Her paintings provide a visual language, hinting at the complex navigation of human relationships. Embedded deeply in her practice and work as a visual artist is a belief that art in its most fundamental form is a personal expression and ultimately finds its rightful place through the engagement of the viewer.


In this CMA original exhibition, Family Album: Our Stories, Amy Pleasant reflects the nostalgia of family moments, matriarchs, spaces and neighborhoods.



Amy Pleasant has participated in national exhibitions in Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York as well as solo exhibitions in Seattle and Amsterdam. In 2012 she was one of twelve artists featured nationally by the Woman’s Caucus for the Arts and was a recipient of the Artist Trust Gap grant in 2016. In 2019 she attended the Blue Mountain Center, NY Artist and Writers Social Activism Residency and was accepted into the 2021 Chateau d’Orquevaux International Residency, France (rescheduled for 2022).


In addition to painting, Amy is a freelance writer and features reflecting the intersection of Art and Social Justice issues can be found at Huff Post and Bust Magazine.


Artist Instagram


Join us for these related programs presented by Amy Pleasant:

Open to the public, pre-registration is required.

9/1/23, First Friday, 6:00-7:00 pm – “Artist Talk & Poetry Reading” with Amy Pleasant

9/5/23, 6:00-8:00 pm – “The Stories We Tell” FREE Adult Writing Workshop with Amy Pleasant

9/7/23, 6:00-8:00 pm – “Family Photos Collage and Pattern Printmaking” FREE Adult Workshop with Amy Pleasant


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