Marshall Blevins grew up listening to the blues (Robert Johnson is her favorite), and later devoured Southern authors such as Zora Neale Hurston, Flannery O’Connor and William Faulkner, resulting, she says, in a “gritty fictive world made in my imagination.” All these influences come to bear in her work, which combines colorful, energetic portrayals of the landscapes and animals she grew up around, with strong dashes of delta mythology and Southern Gothic symbolism.
Although various creatures abound in her compositions, an implacable white mule frequently occupies central stage — hence her Instagram handle, “@churchgoinmule.” Her Instagram feed is, as her 1,000-plus followers would attest, uncommonly good. So good, in fact, that it secured her first solo show, Church Goin’ Mule, at Smith & Lens Gallery in Bay St. Louis, Miss., in June 2016.
“Sandy and I are huge fans of Marshall’s,” says Ann Madden, who co-founded Smith & Lens with Sandy Maggio. “If memory serves, we found her on Instagram, and you know, her work is just delightful. But it’s more than that; it’s magnetic and engaging, and there’s always something else there. There’s always a little mystery in there, sometimes a bigger one. Her paintings are unpretentious, and I think they have a wide appeal without being boring. They’re like her: Marshall is completely approachable, but very, very interesting. And just lovely.”
Since relocating to Acadiana in 2014, Blevins, now 25, has steadily grown her presence around Lafayette, participating in exhibits at Bread & Circus Provisions, Gallery 333, Rêve Coffee Roasters, Warehouse 535, and currently, Tsunami’s Lounge Gallery.
The large, black cut paper installation and smaller cut paper pieces on display for her exhibition at Lounge are a departure for Blevins in terms of material, size and color. That the work succeeds is a testament to the versatility of her skill set, and the scalability of her signature style. — Wendy Raffel
Showing at Lounge Gallery through Saturday, May 13, 2017