Kaylyn Webster Lightshow
Kaylyn Webster, Light Show in July, 2023; Oil on canvas; Courtesy of the artist

Mallory and Wurtzburger Galleries

Kaylyn Webster: Commune (verb)

Oct 8, 2023 - Jan 7, 2024

Memphis artist Kaylyn Webster’s paintings feel at once familiar and otherworldly; traditional and completely of the moment. She draws upon both memories and current experiences among her tight-knit family and circle of friends as inspiration for her work, which at once celebrates and upends conventions of painting. While studying art history at Washington University in Saint Louis, Webster found herself puzzled and frustrated by the lack of representation of Black men and women in Western art courses. In response, she began painting images of the people from her own community in a format and style that hitherto had been reserved for saints and royalty. The result is a body of paintings that project a sacred intimacy, a feeling that the viewer is in the presence of someone they know very well, but also someone so noble that they command respect.

Webster titled her show Commune [verb] to be clear that her work is often about the many ways people come together. While sometimes, the notion is celebratory—a neighborhood gathering to celebrate a holiday—other times, she emphasizes the importance of community in the healing process after illness or trauma. In either instance, Webster sees, processes, and captures with quiet honesty the divine aspects of communing with those we love.