Tyler Peffley delivers Diction at Blue House Gallery

Photo: Tyler Peffley’s ‘Censors,’ part of the Diction series on display at Blue House Gallery through June 30

By Morgan Laurens

Remember your first-ever gig ticket? How about the flier from your friend’s art show that you taped, crooked and unframed, to your bedroom wall? Or the X-ray the doctor gave you when you broke your wrist as a kid?

Tyler Peffley does. The printmaker turned watercolorist is a hoarder at heart, stockpiling the detritus that accumulates over the course of a human life: old calendars, photographs from the ’70s, pictures of sports stars in action. Instead of allowing it to collect dust somewhere in a shoebox, Peffley uses his potpourri of random ephemera to gain insight into what he calls the “vocabulary of images.”

“Painting [from a photo] actually loads it with more meaning, because it’s already a processed image of something, and now you’re processing it again,” says Peffley, whose Diction series is up at Blue House Gallery through June 30. “It’s like when you run an image through a photocopier a bunch of times until it becomes something entirely different.”

The work in Diction, some 50 to 60 pieces hung edge to edge and totaling an estimated 90 feet, moves from quick sketches to fluid watercolors and back again with the ease of an artist whose studio practice frequently jumps among media.

As a practicing printmaker, what led to your decision to focus on drawings and watercolors in Diction?

Tyler Peffley: I love making prints, but this show really reflects my own studio practice. Prints show the process, [they’re] tedious, often times labor intensive—a drawing that has to be processed. One thing I’ve always loved about my drawing style, and something that has kept me going with drawing in particular, is that fluidity and showing of the artist’s hand. And in printmaking oftentimes that gets lost because of the process. The initial marks that you make oftentimes get covered up and processed, which sometimes is good and bad…but I still love the fluidity of a sketch. Watercolor tends to have the same spontaneity.

How does the process of printmaking inspire your sketches and watercolors?

TP: I’m inspired by anything that expresses a visual quality that’s extreme in one way or another. Any picture that might utilize something, whether it’s digital or analogue…  Sometimes you’ll see photos from the ’70s that have one quality, or photos from today that have another, or maybe photos from an X-ray machine that would have another way of showing images. I like to explore those kinds of things. I like to explore the vocabulary of what an image can be.

Can you give me an example of this vocabulary?

TP: A great example is the pixels and the digital look of something or a flare from the sun on the camera lens—something that doesn’t happen when you’re painting out in the open, and it doesn’t happen when you look at the sun. That’s an image, and it has its own quality. For me to paint it, it takes on a whole new life.

So, these images are self-referential?

TP: I think so…many of these are self-reflective in that they are inspired somewhat from themselves, like how an artist is inspired by his own image and paints a self-portrait. The vocabulary of images exists. I’ve been surfing Google Images addictively for years. I’ll find the strangest image out of a group. I have a collection of clippings. Before we used computers for everything, I tore pages out of everything, and I still, to this day, have piles and piles.

What sort images can viewers expect to see in Diction?

TP: I have everything from sports and competition and authority mentioned lightly throughout, because I get to utilize things like visual stimuli, like repetition, or bright colors, or movement. I’m often using the parts of it that make it a good image rather than the specific sport. I have a lot of people running in my pictures. I think [running] is loaded with a lot more context, especially when seen in a gallery.

What’s the appeal of an image that depicts running?

TP: I love people running because it’s a celebration of the human form, and you’ve got repetition of people and limbs, but also there’s a subconscious thought about an ocean of people running, and where you might be in that ocean, or where your thoughts might be.

Your work contains a lot of imagery like that—crowds of people without any discernible facial features or personality traits.

TP: I don’t get intimate with the human condition when it comes to the things in my work. I like to take a step back, have a macro view. It sort of reminds me of a debate one of my colleagues and I used to have about American and European art, in that Americans can sometimes divulge too much…I’ve always seen my place in a more academic way, where, instead of being inspired by myself, I look to be inspired by the art that I’m seeing and the images that I live around.

Diction is on display through June 30 at Blue House Gallery, 3325 Catalpa Dr. in Dayton. The show is free. For more information, please visit Instagram.com/TylerPeffley or TheBlueHouseArts.com.


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Reach DCP freelance writer Morgan Laurens at MorganLaurens@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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