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Emily Pettigrew & Ryan Steadman

Wilder, in collaboration with Mothflower present a duo exhibition by Emily Pettigrew and Ryan Steadman.

Balm brings together new work by painters Ryan Steadman and Emily Pettigrew. The two artists live together in the Catskills, a rural location they moved to from New York City in 2020 in an attempt to disentwine themselves from the human and environmental sickness inherent in the culture of the city. Both artists’ work is deeply tied to a sense of place and to a shared search for a restorative, simpler way of life.

Working primarily in acrylic on wood, Emily Pettigrew uses a pared-back tonal palette to depict moments or places imbued with emotional meaning. Historical references are mixed with contemporary details, creating an ambiguity around time and place, leaving viewers unable to precisely place the depicted events in terms of period or location. The artist credits her puritanical aesthetic as coming from her background growing up in Maine, as well as her lifelong interest in historic groups such as the Shakers and Amish communities.

Pettigrew is also showing a collection of smaller works from her series of quilt paintings, which borrow from the geometric and stylised aesthetics of the handmade quilts produced by the women of many historic American communities. Pettigrew is living with a genetic condition which makes many intricate handcrafts impossible for her; through painting, she finds a way of engaging and experimenting with those crafts and their heritage, often in unexpected or novel ways. The restrained format of the quilt paintings, leaning towards a flatter abstraction influenced by Steadman’s practice, paradoxically gives Pettigrew more freedom to explore a wider range of emotions, events, and flights of the imagination than her more naturalistic, figurative works.

Ryan Steadman credits some of the most recent developments in his practice to his knowledge of Pettigrew’s work. The couple’s move to the Catskills coincided with a transition for Steadman from a more abstract and sculptural practice into figurative paintings depicting human subjects. Many of his paintings depict quiet or deeply personal moments that have both a universality and an individualism, often working with scenes of everyday life or pointing to instances of connection between human and animal subjects.

Both Steadman and Pettigrew have produced a series of paintings that suggest a sense of simultaneous intimacy and distance, offering a window into a radical self-aware simplicity. Living such intertwined lives, the two artists often work from the same reference points, landscapes, and models, but these motifs emerge in their work in different ways. While Steadman repeatedly portrays his loved ones, including Emily Pettigrew and his daughters, his works maintain a fundamental preoccupation with harmonic shape, colour, and composition. For Pettigrew, on the other hand, the emphasis is on distilling a timeless moment from a meaningful set of circumstances or memories.

Together, Steadman and Pettigrew’s works suggest a search for healing in both physical and psychical terms. There is a sense of returning to the land as a treatment for the toxicity of late-stage capitalism, not as a form of escapism but rather as an exploration of an alternative way of life. Taken as a whole, Balm constitutes an attempt at restoration, breaking away from the sinister direction of the world not through a hermit-like retreat, but through a reengagement with human, animal, and landscape.


2 - 26 November 2022


Emily Pettigrew is a representational painter, whose work is distinguished by a sparseness, subtlety, and timelessness, and emanates a quiet reverence for both history and nature. The aesthetics of her narrative acrylic paintings, which often depict single figures and landscapes, were defined by formative years in Maine and refined by study in the New York art scene.

“My love for the starkness of the landscape of my childhood, is reflected in a spartanism in my work. My foundational principle of painting, is the removal of excess parts—a paring down to an image’s most beautiful elements.”

Pettigrew graduated from Pratt Institute with a B.F.A in Communications Design and a minor in Art History. Her work has received awards and recognition from both American Illustration and the Society of Illustrators including the 2013 Nancy Lee Rhodes Roberts

Select Exhibitions Include:
2022 - Balm, two-person show at Wilder Gallery, London, UK 2022 - Half Gallery, office, New York, New York
2022 - The Beauty of Solitude, solo show at Adah Rose Gallery, Kensington, Maryland
2021, Too Pure for this World, solo show funded by New York State Council on the Arts grant, Historic Hunting Tavern Museum Andes, New York
2021 Odd Hours, two-person show at Monya Rowe Gallery, New York, New York
2021 Salut 6 at Nucleus Portland, Oregon
2020 - present at Gallery B, Castine, Maine
2020 - 2021 at Hawk and Hive, Andes, New York
2020, These Days at Bo Lee Gallery, London, England 2020 Virtual Group Show, Shrine, New York, New York 2020 8x8 Show at Flatfile Gallery, online
2020 ANTIVIRUS by Tincal Lab, Porto, Portugal
2020 Creative Distancing at the Art Museum of South Texas 2020 Salut 5 at Nucleus Portland, Oregon

Ryan Steadman’s new body of work is a return to the figurative leanings of his youth after a long foray into a range of formal art concerns. After a series of upheavals—which included a divorce, health scares, and a move out of New York City to an isolated, pastoral setting—Steadman began making a series of intimate scenes that primarily depict his close circle of loved ones, animals, and natural surroundings. Carefully built with harmonious sections of colour, these artworks stand as monuments to life’s most crucial elements in a world of rapid change and endless frivolity. Steadman graduated with an M.F.A. in Painting from Pratt Institute. He lives and works in Delhi, NY.

Select Exhibitions Include:
2022 - Balm, two-person show at Wilder Gallery, London, UK 2020- Group show with Hilary Pecis, James English Leary, Johannes VanDerBeek, and Milena Musquiz at Halsey
McKay Gallery, East Hampton, NY
2019- Ryan Steadman / August Ventimiglia, Drive-By Projects, Boston, MA
2018- Necromancer (Solo), Halsey McKay, East Hampton, NY 2017- Anna Schachte / Ryan Steadman, SAFE Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
2015- Pictorial Pastimes (solo), Pablo’s Birthday, New York, NY
2014- Still Life With Woodpecker, Halsey McKay Gallery, East Hampton, NY
2012- The Painted Word (solo), Karma, organized by Bob Nickas, New York, NY

Emily Pettigrew & Ryan Steadman
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