Press Release

Autumn Wallace

How to Hug Yourself: 10 Steps (with Pictures)

May 14 - June 28, 2021

Gaa Gallery Provincetown


Gaa Gallery is pleased to present How to Hug Yourself: 10 Steps (with Pictures), a solo exhibition of paintings and sculptures by Autumn Wallace. Opening Friday, May 14, the exhibition will run through June 28 at Gaa Gallery located at 494 Commercial Street Provincetown, MA.


Based on a Wikihow article, How to Hug Yourself: 10 Steps (with Pictures), is an exhibition of paintings, sculptures, and a limited-edition artist book. Wallace’s exhibition walks the viewer through a non-linear hybrid of a how-to-manual, existential guide, and a visual narrative. Through exploring motifs including rebirth, baptism, fortune-telling, penmanship, sadism, and altruism, Wallace’s exhibition examines human sexuality, gender, kinship, and caregiving.


Combining image-making and conceptual rigor, Wallace’s work foregrounds figurative painting but encompasses a range of media, including sculpture, drawing, and installation. Striving towards a philosophical and semiotic aesthetic of the Black femme experience, Wallace’s work often creates narratives set in an alternate reality, where imaginary friends, mythic figures, animal-hybrids, plant life, and objects are portrayed in landscapes, domestic interiors, or as standalone portraits. Addressing the whole of the history of painting - landscape, still life, portraiture, Wallace’s interrogation of the western historical canon is an activity of reality-building and recontextualizes art history to include themes and depictions that have been historically omitted.


Meticulously rendered in oil, acrylic, and pastel with accents of gold leaf and rhinestones, Wallace’s paintings are animated by a rich tonal range, texture, and an acute sense of color, surface, and materiality. Influenced by early 90’s cartoons, Byzantine aesthetics, Baroque Style, Neoclassicist paintings, and what Wallace describes as “low-quality adult materials,” Wallace creates complex and maximal images that range in scale from the monumental to the miniature. Figures depicted across the pictorial plane defy spatial, social, physical, emotional, and psychological boundaries. Rendered in movement, recurring characters with distinct personalities are wrapped, entwined, and pressed against each other. Around them, corporeal and incorporeal beings are omnipresent. Objects become animate, plant life closes in, and architecture becomes a presence of containment, protection, and obstacle.


In How to Hug Yourself: 10 Steps (with Pictures), ancient and modern mythologies are interwoven, employing new and extant characters in Wallace’s expansive lexicon. Inspired by personal history, as well as what Wallace has interpreted as recurring elements of Western culture and psyche, they offer new perspectives of narrative and provide a contemporary lens to view archetypal stories within the art historical canon. In looking at established mythologies and viewing the hug through the lens of art historical representations of the seven spiritual and corporal works of mercy, Wallace reveals a fluid and forward-looking perspective that asks essential questions about self-care, consent, and free will.


Autumn Wallace (b. 1996, Philadelphia, PA) is a visual artist and a recent graduate of the Tyler School of Art at Temple University. Recent solo exhibitions include #THECONTAINTERSTORE, Fine Arts Work Center, Provincetown, MA, USA; #MAJORSEXUALCHEESEFETISH, Portside Art Parlor, Philadelphia, PA, USA; How Could I Say No To You?, HOUSE Gallery, Philadelphia, PA, USA; and #SingleWithPets, Stella Elkins Gallery, Philadelphia, PA, USA. Wallace is the recipient of numerous fellowships, including residencies at the Fine Arts Work Center, Provincetown, MA; Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA), North Adams, MA, USA; the Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, VT, USA; and Yaddo Saratoga Springs, NY, USA.