Friday, May 20th to Saturday, July 2nd, 2011

Charlotte Street Foundation’s Urban Culture Project Space, 21 East 12th Street, presents Swailing, an exhibition of drawings and cut paper works by Iowa-based artist Lee Emma Running, opening with a free public reception on Third Friday, May 20, 6-9pm. The opening will be followed by an artist talk on Saturday, May 21 at noon. The exhibition runs through July 2, 2011.

Lee Emma Running’s work is attentive to the particularities of her landscape, inspired by both subtle changes that come with the change of season, and the intricacy of specimens gathered in the natural world. Using simple tools of projection, tracing, stenciling, and cutting, and a combination of close handwork and digital manipulation, her work investigates the beauty and complexity of natural phenomena and expands characteristics of biological ephemera. Transforming the scale of bits of nature, she seeks to reveal their intricate networks and to identify the universal nature inherent within them.

The work featured in Swailing, a term that refers to the prescribed burning of prairie or marshland, is specifically inspired by mystery and spectacle of the burning of grasses, and what is revealed in the wake of this process.

“Somewhere between sailing and wailing…That’s what I thought it would sound like to hear the blaze take all of the grass at once,” writes Running. “Instead I was surprised at how well fire behaved…a leisurely crackling flame blowing across acres of land. Different than the fierceness of wildfire I imagined, this line of fire crossed a huge expanse of landscape, and simply stopped, leaving a blackened field behind it.”

Walking through these fields the next day: “Each footstep I take sends up a plume of ash. Larger branches and felled trees hold clutches of embers below floating columns of blue smoke…the grasses lie in even charred piles. When I touch them they crumble in my hands, the root-end bright yellow against the charcoal shaft. In the ashes, I find half a canine mouth, a deer jaw, a singed snake. Branches leave stenciled prints against the ground.”

With this exhibition, Running creates an immersive environment, featuring intricate cut paper pieces and drawings hanging in space. In addition, she will create a cut vinyl drawing is attached to the street-level windows of the gallery, facing 12th Street.

Charlotte Street’s Urban Culture Project Space

21 East 12th Street KC MO 64105


Opening: May 20, 6-9pm

Artist talk: May 21, noon

Show runs May 20-July 2, 2011

Gallery hours: Wednesdays, Fridays & Saturdays, 12-5pm; Thursdays 11am-6pm

For photos of the event, check out our flickr.

Event Details

May 20th to July 2nd, 2011


Urban Culture Project Space (21 E 12th St, KCMO, 64105)

Artists Talk
Saturday, May 21st at Noon

About the Artist

Lee Emma Running is an Associate Professor of Art at Grinnell College. She received her BFA from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY in 1999, and her MFA from the University of Iowa, Iowa City, in 2005. Her work has been presented at venues across the country, including Bing Davis Gallery, Fayette, IA; Tacoma Contemporary, Tacoma, WA; 106 S. Division Gallery, Grand Rapids, MI; Urban Institute for Contemporary Art, Grand Rapids, MI; The American Museum of Papermaking, Atlanta GA; Des Moines Art Center, Des Moines, IA; and Faulconer Gallery, Grinnell, IA. Lee has completed residencies at Jentel Artists Residency Banner, WY and The Vermont Studio Center Johnson, VT, and was awarded a major site-specific commission at Grinnell Regional Medical Center. She is also a member of The Moving Crew Artist Collective. Visit for more information.

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