At Your Convenience
Based in Memphis, Tennessee for the past eleven years but originating from Mississippi, Frances Berry started her artistic career as a photographer. Midway through her masters degree at the Memphis College of Art, she discarded her cameras and slowly metamorphosed into the painter presented to you today. Her work is bold and bright, a physical representation of her personality.
“My work is just pure energy moving through me,” Berry said in an interview for the Nashville Scene.
Stacy Kiehl, originally from Los Angeles, now lives and shares a studio space with Berry in Memphis, Tennessee. Her work is brightly colored and high-contrast; her previous work as a tattoo artist has clearly guided her current form. Having grown up in southern California, her work is heavily influenced by the unique culture she was immersed in. Her memories of California are inked in Old English Script and smell like vintage car exhaust.
Though Frances Berry and Stacy Kiehl have vastly different artistic styles (Stacy having a more graphic style, Frances, more painterly), they share a bold and vibrant color palette. They have described their collaborative process as being comparable to tag-team wrestling or pen pal correspondence, as they pass work back and forth until they achieve a satisfying result.
Convenience is a concept that frequents the minds of Americans and we often take it for granted. Convenience stores give us easy access to consumer products that are seldom found elsewhere. The concept of convenience also often manipulates our relationships with one another. Women have historically been inclined to make themselves more “convenient” for men- staying home to take on domestic roles as men continue to build their careers, a comely convenient fiction of what it means to be a woman has dominated the feminine storyline. Here, Berry and Kiehl have drawn a parallel between these two concepts to illuminate the absurdity of a ready-made female mold. Stacy’s trademark skull face can be interpreted as a stand-in for the male gaze, flanking either side of portraits of powerful women.
While Frances has previously created collaborative art with her past studio-mate, Captain, who now lives on the west coast, she has never collaborated with another female artist before. This is Stacy’s first artistic collaboration. In an interview conducted by Emily Zachry for Choose 901, Stacy noted, “I’ve never collaborated with anybody before, so it’s all like a new thing. I never thought I would be able to, because I’m so particular about how I want things. But, our collaboration, it just seems like supernatural…Also being female, you know? I feel like women are competitive with certain things, and we don’t have that at all.”
“You know, it’s a lot of clapping for each other. It’s really rad to watch Stacy succeed, and to see the space coming together. I had no clue how much space Stacy was going to fill up in my life, but it’s all happened with such ease. It’s like the happiest place on earth,” -Frances Berry