Laura Craig McNellis: Out of the Closet

12 April - 12 May 2012
Press release

Ricco/Maresca Gallery is pleased to present “Out of the Closet,” an exhibition of life-size paper and paint cut-outs of clothing by Laura Craig McNellis. McNellis’s record of everyday life, whether it focuses on clothes, tables of food and drink, buildings, or events, invites us to admire the significant beauty of a day’s details. Looking at McNellis’s work, we allow ourselves to take pleasure in daily events often ignored, and recognize each day’s minutiae as ritual, rather than rote. Her paintings are intimate, revealing with joy the role these objects play in composing our lives.

McNellis’s use of color is intense and uplifting, as are her thick, flowing lines, and the bold shapes they create. Recently, she has concentrated on clothing: she paints a garment in tempera and then cuts it out, working according to the size of the original subject. Her attention to the detail in these garments is creative and accurate: even in two dimensions she communicates a sense of space by reproducing, for example, the logos and tags along the inside of T-shirt necklines, or the rivets and stitches on a pair of jeans.


Born in 1957, McNellis grew up in Nashville, Tennessee. She is autistic, and attends Studio XI, which provides space to work, as well as supplies, tools, equipment, and special technical assistance; their motto is to facilitate, rather than direct the creativity of their artists. While only her father, mother, and three sisters can understand her spoken language, her works on paper eloquently communicate her experiences, interests, and life.


McNellis has been represented by Ricco/Maresca Gallery since 1992; in 2001 her solo show coincided with the publication of a full-color catalogue. McNellis’s paintings have been exhibited at the Newark Museum, in Newark, NJ, the Arts Center of Henderson County, Hendersonville, NC, 2002, at The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art, “Inside Out: 1970-2003,” in Chicago, IL, 2004. She has had solo shows at the John F. Kennedy Center in Nashville, TN, in 1997, and at the Karsten Greve Galerie in Cologne, Germany, in 1993, as well as at the Ricco/Maresca Gallery. Her work was included in Exhibit #4 at the Museum of Everything, presented at Selfridges in London in the fall of 2011; during this time her clothing works were also displayed as a solo show at Ricco/Maresca at INTUIT Chicago.

Installation Views