Exploring Layers

Friends and artists Suze Ford and Jenny Meyer-McCall show their evolution in a new exhibition at Leedy-Voulkos Art Center.

Artists Suze Ford and Jenny Meyer-McCall set out to push their boundaries with their new exhibition at Leedy-Voulkos Art Center. What they didn’t anticipate was the last minute push that came from a flood in Ford’s basement studio last week.

Ford dubbed it the “Great Flood of 2016.” Fortunately all her work for the exhibition, titled “Exploring Boundaries: A Layered Conversation,” was safe, a stroke of luck given Ford says it’s the biggest show of her life so far.

“This is the vision that you have for years and it finally comes to fruition,” she says. “It’s better than I could have ever dreamed.”

Opening today and running through August, “Exploring Boundaries” was Ford and Meyer-McCall’s way of pushing themselves to get outside their comfort zones and explore their own evolution.

Surround Me in Peace, oil on canvas, by Suze Ford.

The idea grew out of the artists’ friendship. High school classmates, the pair reconnected at the Plaza Art Fair and quickly realized their lives’ many parallels: Both women have two young children, work from home studios and create personal work that reflects who they are and how they feel.

“We came together to do the show because we wanted to both really push ourselves,” Ford explains. Meyer-McCall adds, “It was so great for both of us to just create work we wanted to create and not focus so much on marketing or sales.”

The exhibition landing at Leedy-Voulkos encouraged them to produce larger-than-usual pieces as well as move in new directions. Ford’s works mark a transition into the fully abstract, while Meyer-McCall’s mixed-media work shifted to become narrative.

“A lot of mine is about who I am and where I’m going and where I’m trying to find myself, and so much of that is being a mother,” she says. “I’m taking childhood nostalgia items and putting them into it.”

Hello My Name Is by Jenny Meyer-McCall

Motherhood is a thread in both the artists’ work directly (Ford’s daughters painted on one piece she started almost a year ago) and indirectly. Both women consider their children sources of inspiration and create when they have pockets of time—one of Meyer-McCall’s pieces is even titled “Stolen Moments.” Feedback was exchanged via texts, “which is great for busy moms who can’t drive across the city to see each other,” Ford laughs.

Still, after months of sending photos of work, the two weren’t expecting how they reacted to finally seeing their work put together in person: goosebumps.

“We did something that we wanted to really do and we believed in and we dreamed of doing, and we made it happen,” Ford says. “I think of what that can translate to other girls: Just that you become a mom doesn’t mean you can’t have your dream.”

See the exhibition tonight 6-9 p.m. during its First Friday opening.