It's a Fine Line Press Release

by Lauren Kennedy

It’s a Fine Line

Stephanie Howard // Khara Woods

A new exhibition from Sheet Cake Gallery

MEMPHIS, TN, June 11, 2024 – Sheet Cake Gallery presents a new exhibition, It’s a Fine Line, of work from Stephanie Howard (Greenville, SC) and Khara Woods (Memphis, TN). In their work, Howards and Woods reflect on the passage of time, where repetition and meticulous linework become meditations on their anxieties about mortality and personal experiences. 

Howard is inspired by work from self-taught artists, rich traditions of Southern storytelling and folklore, and her own experiences navigating patriarchal systems and bureaucracies. Her work has a decidedly Southern Gothic sensibility, with touches of the mythical and wild throughout. Her pen on paper pieces primarily feature images of children and women that represent a desire to maintain an innocent curiosity in moving through the world, and claiming power both for herself and the women in her life. The intricate patterns and lines in her work come from an introspective practice of compulsive drawing, allowing her the opportunity to slow down and ruminate on the human experience. By immersing herself in her creative process, she finds refuge from the existential dread that often accompanies thoughts of impermanence. These drawings suspend a moment in time for Howard, but she intentionally leaves her narratives open-ended allowing the viewer ample room to understand the work in their own ways. 

Woods continues her exploration of geometric forms, a long family history of making, and a deep love for architecture. Clean lines, saturated color, and precise shapes dominate her sculpture and painting practice. Like Howard, she is also contemplating time’s unimpeded march forward and a fear of the future in this new body of work. The life cycles of stars captured Woods’ imagination appearing as the abstracted shape of a star reaching out in four directions, reminiscent of a supernova’s impending colossal explosion. We use these celestial bodies to create a sense of order, marking time and measuring unimaginable distances. And yet, they are completely beyond our reach and full comprehension. Through her use of these images in the context of her fastidious studio practice, Woods attempts to exert her own tenuous control and honor the complexities of the universe in which we exist. In these works, Woods is also expanding her color palette, adding new facets and hues of colors that she is consistently drawn to using.

Stephanie Howard was born in the Appalachian region of South Carolina and still resides in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Howard received her BFA in painting from Savannah College of Art and Design, and later her Masters of Library and Information Science from the University of South Carolina. Her work has been exhibited widely in the Southeastern United States. Howard is inspired and influenced by outsider and folk art, vintage photography and illustration, as well as embroidery and quilting. When working, she often thinks of her materials as fabric and thread instead of pen and paper. 

Khara Woods is a multidisciplinary artist and graphic designer who lives and works in Memphis, TN. Her studio practice includes abstract geometric paintings, wood assemblage and public art, including murals and community engagement projects. Her work has been exhibited recently at Hillard Museum at the University of Louisiana in Lafayette, LA, Beverly + Sam Ross Gallery at Christian Brothers University in Memphis, TN and Crosstown Arts in Memphis, TN. She has designed and installed murals and public art projects for various organizations since 2015, including the Memphis Public Library’s Cornelia Crenshaw branch (2017) and the City of Memphis’ Office of Comprehensive Planning (2023). She was commissioned by Mural Arts Philadelphia in 2019 to design a large-scale data-visualization mural for the Uptown Memphis neighborhood as a part of their Arts & Environment Initiative. Woods was awarded the New Public Artists Fellowship in 2021 by UrbanArt Commission. In 2023, she is working on a number of asphalt art designs for several institutions including the Memphis Medical District Collaborative, Smart Growth America and the City of Memphis’ Office of Comprehensive Planning.