Alabama’s Amy Pleasant uses a type of body language in her minimal and monochromatic drawings, paintings and ceramic sculptures.
The artist: A native of Birmingham, Pleasant earned a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and an MFA from the Tyler School of Art at Temple University in 1999. After graduate school, Pleasant moved back to her hometown.
In the beginning: As a child, Pleasant was surrounded by art and artists. She watched her artist-father at work in his studio and often attended his art show openings.
Pleasant’s family, including an uncle who was a photographer, went to museums and collected art books. In first grade, she started art lessons and had no other goal than to be an artist when she grew up.
The studio: Pleasant has lived in Birmingham neighborhood of Avondale for 26 years, and works out of her home studio with artist-husband Pete Schulte.
She also had an off-site studio in downtown Birmingham for more than 20 years, but moved last year to a co-working space (MAKEbhm) in Avondale. When making her ceramics, Pleasant works at MAKEbhm, walkable from her home.
The goods & materials: Drawings in ink and gouache on paper ($1,000 to $3,000). Also oil paintings on canvas ($1,200 to $11,000) and ceramic sculpture $2,500 to $3,500).
Inspiration/influences: All modes of writing, calligraphy, cuneiform, rock paintings, petroglyphs and hieroglyphics.
Also artifacts of early figurative sculpture, Greek vases, Fante flags and the Japanese artist Hiroshige, known for his woodblock prints.
Fun or unusual request: Install one of her wall drawings in a collector’s bathroom. The work played off the mirrors and the idea of reflection so she repeated images of someone looking into a handheld mirror.
Big break: A visit by Jeff Bailey to her studio in Birmingham around 2003. The visit led to Pleasant’s first solo show in New York City and a 14-year relationship with Jeff Bailey Gallery.
Awards/honors: Many including:
– Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Award (2018).
– Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters and Sculptors Award (2015).
– South Arts Prize (2018).
By the book: Pleasant collaborated with graphic designer Michael Aberman on “The Messenger’s Mouth Was Heavy,” which was released in late 2019.
Co-published by Institute 193 and Frank, the book includes more than 200 pages of Pleasant’s works with essays contributed by Katie Geha and Daniel Fuller.
“One of the unique things about the book is the text,” said Pleasant. “Michael created a typeface using my drawings, and used it throughout the book.”
- A three-person exhibition May 1-June 5 at whitespace gallery in Atlanta (whitespace814.com). Her book will be for sale at the gallery for $45.
- A solo show with Geary Contemporary at its Millerton, NY, gallery in August.
Get social at:
- Facebook: amy.pleasant.5
- Instagram: amy a pleasant