by Joe Nolan
In a recent interview at Huffington Post with Nashville artist Kelly Kerrigan, she explained that her oddly touching paintings of villains from the Star Wars universe caressing cuddly forest creatures were informed by her love for her late husband, the artist Paul Kerrigan who died of cancer in 2010. Paul loved the rabbit from the film Harvey and he and Kelly bonded over George Lucas' original trilogy in college. (Could anybody fall in love watching the prequels?)
While Kerrigan's work has garnered national attention, her new show at Blackbird Tattoo and Gallery is so thoroughly satisfying because it perfectly matches those Star Wars pieces with an installation of her illuminated Tramp Lamps, which float and glow with bawdy buoyancy in the downstairs storefront gallery window.
Read more and check out the curves on Kerrigan's intimate installation after the jump.
On her website, Kerrigan claims to have made over 800 of her Tramp Lamps since she started creating with lacy lingerie in 2003. Her signature pieces are definitely unforgettable, and you have to visit Blackbird after sunset to see this bodacious display of teasing T & A in all of its fiery glory. Both goofy and sexy, the lamps are outrageously feminine and fun, and they display the same mix of heart and humor that comes together in the artist's unlikely acrylic panels.
Kerrigan's Star Wars paintings are silly and sweet, but the best among them are actually quite moving. The artist's "Distractions" series depicts the face of a Stormtrooper lit upon by a gorgeous, spotted Monarch butterfly. In successive oval panels, Kerrigan offers new points of view of the white helmet with the flat black eyes and the flitting, flirting creature flying all about it. In addition to displaying some of the best painting in the show, "Distractions" brings to mind the end of the Klaus Kinski documentary My Best Fiend, the actor beaming and laughing as a similar butterfly dances and dodges over his arms and around his face. Like Werner Herzog's film, Kerrigan's paintings remind us that even the worst bad guys aren't all bad. In fact, Darth and the boys would probably love Kerrigan's illuminated lingerie.