Providence painter Kirstin Lamb’s early paintings were mushrooming accumulations of appropriated images referencing the history of domestic décor, portraiture and still life. Rendered in a style of artless caricature that masked her superior drafting skill, the encyclopedic scope of her imagery always suggested richer undercurrents.
Lamb’s early paintings and drawings reflected the vanitas tradition of Dutch Master still life. She tossed in every kind of object or image that might grace a home or studio’s walls, complicating these collections with her own striped and dotted abstract designs and adding repetitive textilepatterns and floral displays copied from collected ephemera, historical compilations of home décor and references to domestic and feminine-identified crafts. These led to burgeoning 3D installations in the studio of individual works and groupings copied from her walls. Some hung salon-style, others stacked against the wall or spilled onto the floor. Her installations of pictures of pictures of pictures in the studio projecting into three dimensions induced the nausea of an infinite regress. (I curated one such installation in an exhibition studying women artists’ critique of the domestic sphere at the Art Complex Museum at Duxbury in 2017.)
Curious about Lamb’s upcoming solo exhibition at the Jennifer Terzian Gallery in Litchfield, Connecticut, I sought her out to catch up on her latest work. I was hardly prepared for the grand scale of flower-filled paintings that nearly tumbled out the door of her Pawtucket loft. The new Floral Remix paintings are four-, five- and six-foot mishmashes of blown-up, Warhol-like floral displays composed of intricately patterned surfaces. Lamb constructs blooming medallions and nosegays from the dots and pixels of tapestry and embroidery, some of them derived from antique patterns, others she has herself designed.