Recent Acquisitions: Jeffry Mitchell

Describing himself as a “gay folk artist,” Jeffry Mitchell (b. 1958, Seattle; lives and works in Olympia, Washington) rejects the irony and elitism often associated with the art world. Instead, he works from a philosophy of acceptance and constructs his art in vulnerable, deeply human terms. Mitchell is primarily a ceramicist, but drawings and other works on paper are foundational to his artistic practice.

Recalling childhood craft projects that use folded paper to form intricate, symmetrical designs, Snowflake Drawing #5 (Double Lotus Pod) exhibits the artist’s highly personal visual language. Situated alongside bears, bunnies, and “elefants” (the artist’s spelling) that often serve as self-portraits, the flowers that frequently appear across Mitchell’s work contribute to his unique aesthetic of exuberant decorative flourishes. He attributes his long-term interest in flowers to their global appeal as a “ubiquitous, time-honored motif used in many cultures.” The bulbous lotus pods in this work straddle the complex binaries—beauty and the grotesque, ephemerality and immortality, sex and death—characteristic of his creations.

Recent Acquisitions is a biannual series highlighting works that have been gifted to or purchased for the Frye Art Museum’s permanent collection.