October 9 — November 13, 2021

Indeterminate Conversations 1990 – 2006

Annette Lawrence



Conduit Gallery is honored to announce the solo exhibition, Indeterminate Conversations 1990 - 2006, a survey of artworks by Annette Lawrence.

Encompassing both gallery spaces of Conduit Gallery, Indeterminate Conversations 1990 – 2006 offers a look at four bodies of Annette Lawrence’s work and the transitional pieces between them. The works in the show present a rare gathering of early large-scale pieces with bold patterning, systems of repetition, and multiple parts. Looking at these works now is akin to seeing them come of age. They are full of life and well suited for the disruptive moment we are currently experiencing.

The works in Indeterminate Conversations mirror the process of Annette Lawrence’s studio practice. The exhibition charts Lawrence’s work beginning with the monumental work on paper, Wallpaper, which Lawrence created for her MFA Thesis exhibition in 1990 and presents various bodies of works through 2006. While Wallpaper is a play on space and form through alternating views of shadows cast by a vase of flowers, it laid the foundation for a close look at text as image. After a few years of using words, symbols, and numbers in myriad ways Lawrence made The Ancestors and the Womb (1995), a series of ten works on panel that use quilt patterns as signifiers for the relationship between text and code. A silhouette portrait of Lawrence’s grandmother, who was a quilter, is joined with a tight spiral of dates marking the activity of the artist’s womb in menstrual cycles. The title comes from a line in Julie Dash’s film Daughters of the Dust “the ancestors and the womb, they are the same”. Part of this series was exhibited in the 1997 Whitney Biennial. Five key pieces from the series will be included in this exhibition.

Now well known for the practice of counting within her works, the powerful Phoenix (1996) painting on brown paper saw Lawrence directly address the torrent of small Black churches that were burned in 1996. In each of the 12 individual works that make up the whole, a simple church structure is formed through the negative space of an opaque black ground. Sixty hash marks cut through the structure, each counting a church that burned. Lawrence stopped counting at 75 while officials debated whether the attacks were a coordinated effort. Speaking about Phoenix, Lawrence states, “...as these churches were burning, the communities around the churches were rebuilding them and coming out to help each other. It just proved that the church itself is not the building. The “church” was not damaged by the buildings being destroyed. It was actually strengthened because of the crisis. That’s why I called the work Phoenix.”

In subsequent years, Lawrence worked in tandem mining information and creating ways to represent that information visually. In 2001, she began creating a series of works on paper that visually represented music, specifically in the Theory drawings (2001) by systematizing her childhood music theory notebooks. States Lawrence, “I wanted to make a visual experience that feels like music sounds. My goal was for it to feel like there’s some kind of motion going on, with a lot of space and air.” That exploration of movement and a timely conversation with a mathematician led to the creation of a smaller body of work, including the multipart work Indigo Ellipse (2004), included in the exhibition. In the Ellipse works, Lawrence combined the music lesson notes from the Theory drawings with an elliptical form, then isolated the ellipse and “tipped it in space”, further pushing permutations of the patterns.

Throughout her thirty-year career, Lawrence has employed a thoughtful and measured approach to addressing topics in her artwork that range from the mundane stuff of everyday life to the unrelenting challenges that make up our shared experiences.

As seen in the artworks that make up Indeterminate Conversations, Lawrence affirms that through the beauty of geometry and music, the assurances of mathematics and the long gaze of history, we may be destined to reach deeper levels of meaning and thereby, understanding.

Lawrence’s work has been widely exhibited and is held in museums, and private collections including The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, The Dallas Museum of Art, The Rachofsky Collection, ArtPace Center for Contemporary Art, Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art, American Airlines and the Art Collection of the Dallas Cowboys. She received a 2018 MacDowell Fellowship, the 2015 Moss/Chumley Award from the Meadows Museum, and the 2009 Otis and Velma Davis Dozier Travel Award from the Dallas Museum of Art. Her work was included in the 1997 Biennial Exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY. She is an alumnus of the Core Program at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and Skowhegan. She earned a BFA from The Hartford Art School and an MFA from The Maryland Institute College of Art. She was a Professor of Studio Art at the University of North Texas until 2020, and is currently Visiting Faculty at Bennington College in Vermont.

Artists in this Exhibition

Artist Video