Ground Floor Gallery is proud to present "Green Rose," a solo exhibition of new works culled from painter Erika Ranee's rich trove of abstract, mixed-media drawings informed by nature. Largely known for her layered, larger-than-life paintings informed by the sights, sounds and havoc characteristic of an urban existence, Ranee recently shifted her lens to an internal, more domestic focus with these smaller, works on paper produced from her home in the past 1-2 years. Influenced by natural forms and the inner circuitry of the body, these sumptuous drawings are significantly smaller than her robust abstract paintings but remain rife with the color, movement, layers and zest of those larger works.
Our current exhibition, "Green Rose," is the artist's first exhibition devoted exclusively to these drawings. The exhibition title - a considered choice like all of the artist's evocative titles - references the abolitionist Quakers in Maryland who reportedly planted and/or wore green roses as beacons of safety for slaves along the Underground Railroad.
While making these new works certain ideas kept resurfacing: paths, tracks, connections—nature as a guide and beacon. I was thinking about circuits, synapses, heartbeats, rhythms, water and minerals.
I recently came across some information about 19th century abolitionist Quakers in Baltimore, Maryland who planted green roses in their yards, or wore them as a signal to slaves escaping through the Underground Railroad. These roses are an unusual species, because they don’t produce colorful petals, only the green sepals. Roses are revered and coveted for their colorful petals and green roses in all their green sepal glory are less desired.
Where most saw the petal-free flower as a mutation, others embraced its unusual quality as profoundly useful. Its rich history of guiding slaves elevates it beyond a pleasing aesthetic indulgence. These were treacherous paths taken by black slaves as they made their way to freedom from nefarious white slave owners in relentless pursuit. I think about their breathing, the fear and the adrenaline pumping at high levels while navigating through uncharted territories often at night.
I’m interested in the connections between the body and nature and its fluctuations. The work in this show doesn’t specifically chart the history of the Green Rose, but I want to honor its legacy; it encapsulates a specific confluence of nature and the human spirit, and the residual effects of hope and strife.