OZ Arts Nashville Announces Visual Art Exhibit “Proscenium” Featuring Works from Prominent Artists Thomas Wharton and Emily Weiner

Curated by local gallery director Ashley Layendecker, “Proscenium” features imaginative and theatrical visual artworks and is open June 16 through Labor Day weekend.

Nashville, Tenn. – June 15, 2022 – Contemporary arts center OZ Arts Nashville today announced an exhibition of artwork by artists Thomas Wharton and Emily Weiner, curated by Red Arrow’s gallery director Ashley Layendecker, to open in June through Labor Day weekend. An opening night reception for Proscenium will be held in the OZ Arts warehouse on Thursday, June 16 from 6-8pm.

The exhibition’s featured works explore how the two artists approach the edge of painted shapes and use the architecture of the theatre to transport an audience from the flatness of the picture plane into the depths of light and space. Thomas Wharton, an award-winning representational artist, suspends the viewer in contemplation of what is actual and what is manipulated. Repeated and rearranged images of light bulbs and switches allows Wharton to explore composition and manipulate the image by flipping, turning and reflecting similar objects. Drop shadow creates an optical illusion that extends the painting into a physical space.

Works from Nashville artist Emily Weiner create sharp and soft edges that convey space within the picture plane. She hugs each of the paintings in wood, clay, and plaster frames, and a light source is provided by a moon with a ray of light found in most of her paintings. This work nods directly to theatre, performance and stories, all which connect to the exhibition’s title, Proscenium, or the projecting strip of the stage in front of the curtain and the imaginative world that takes place behind it.

In a statement about the new exhibition, Layendecker said:

Peering through red velvet curtains, Emily Weiner’s paintings are stages for the imagination, transformation, narrative and drama. Meanwhile, Thomas Wharton’s images of luminaires convey a time of day, mood and the dramatic passage of time. This exhibition explores how paintings can walk the line between physical structures and optical illusions. Both artists use the proscenium as a literal framework, a symbolic structure, and a device to extend the two-dimensional picture plane into a three-dimensional space.

“Thomas and Emily’s striking visual artworks not only pique curiosity, but they highlight the fascinating and unpredictable nature of the stage in every piece,” said Mark Murphy, Executive and Artistic Director at OZ Arts. “We are delighted to showcase their work in our gallery space this summer and to be working with Ashley Layendecker to bring this inspiring exhibition to life.”

The opening night reception on Thursday, June 16 is free to attend. In-person appointments to view the work can be scheduled by emailing Manager of Artistic Programming Daniel Jones at daniel@ozartsnashville.org. The exhibit will remain open through Labor Day weekend, September 6, 2022.

About the Artists

Emily Weiner is a painter living and working in Nashville, TN. Combining ceramics and oil painting, her works configure icons, geometries, and material motifs which reappear throughout the history of artmaking. She is interested in the ways in which symbols move between the collective unconscious and individual perception. Weiner received her BA from Barnard College, Columbia University (2003) and her MFA in Fine Arts at the School of Visual Arts (2011). Past exhibitions of her paintings include: Whitespace Gallery (Atlanta, GA); Brackett Creek Exhibitions (New York, NY); David Lusk Gallery (Nashville, TN); Gerdarsafn Museum (Kopavogur, Iceland); LeRoy Neiman Gallery, Columbia University (New York); CULT (San Francisco); Soloway (Brooklyn), and Grizzly Grizzly (Philadelphia). She has been a Visiting Artist at the American Academy in Rome (2015); residency co-leader at Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts, Newcastle, Maine (2018); Artist Teacher-Resident at The Cooper Union, New York, NY (2014); artist-in-residence at The Banff Centre, Canada (2012); and resident at Camac Art Center in France (2011). She is represented by Red Arrow Gallery in Nashville, TN. 

Thomas Wharton received his BFA from Savannah College of Art and Design in 2011 and his MFA in Painting and Drawing from the University of Tennessee Knoxville in 2015. He has been the subject of several solo exhibitions in galleries throughout the South and Midwest. His work is included in the permanent collections of institutions including the University of Tennessee Knoxville; Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA; and the Savannah College of Art and Design. Wharton has been exhibited nationally in group exhibitions at First Street Gallery in New York; GCADD in Granite City, Illinois; and Satellite Contemporary in Las Vegas, NV among others. He has been published in New American Paintings, Burnaway Magazine, and Numbers Inc. Thomas received numerous awards including a full fellowship as an artist in residence at the Vermont Studio Center as well as the Sylvia Smith ’73 Artist in Residence program at Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA. The artist currently lives in Omaha, Nebraska where he works as a visual artist and adjunct professor at Midland University and Metropolitan Community College


About the Curator

Ashley Layendecker is a painter, writer and independent curator working in Nashville Tennessee. She received her BFA in Studio Art, 2D concentration in 2016 and her MS in Teacher Education in 2017 at the University of Tennessee. Ashley formally worked at Fluorescent Gallery in Knoxville, where she held the position Assistant to the Director. She moved to Nashville March 2018 where she is actively involved with the growing art scene in the city. She is currently the Gallery Manager at Red Arrow Gallery in East Nashville and works for Locate Arts as a contributor to The Focus.

About OZ Arts Nashville

Founded in 2013 by the Ozgener family, OZ Arts Nashville has quickly established itself as one of the Southeast's most influential and respected producers and presenters focused on the creation and presentation of significant performing and visual artworks by diverse cultural visionaries who are making vital contributions to the evolution of contemporary culture. Through performances, exhibitions, and community events, OZ Arts focuses on producing and presenting the work of local and visiting artists who reflect our diverse society, utilize new artistic forms and technology in creative ways, and provide opportunities for meaningful engagement with audiences, students and cultural and civic leaders. OZ Arts' unique creative warehouse has developed a reputation as a major national and regional laboratory for experimentation and a home for contemporary dance and performance. More than 50,000 audience members have been introduced to adventurous artists from around the world since the organization opened, and hundreds of local and regional artists have used OZs 10,000 square-foot warehouse theater to develop new works. For more information, please visit ozartsnashville.org.