Childress Courtney

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Artist Statement

There is no trash can in my studio, I rarely let anything go to waste. I develop systems for filtering the scraps of life into some alternate form: bits of crayons melted into carpets, leftover paint turned into buckets, and every scrap of paper becomes part of a landscape or is sewn into a notebook.

My inclination to collect comes from growing up in a home that was packed to the gills with unnecessary clutter. The material for my work comes from things that most people would discard upon receipt. Ideally, I use all “the parts of the animal.”

The sedimentary crayons are made from sorting and melting down crayons leftover from my time teaching elementary school. These rock crayons serve two functions: operating as a sculptural object for display and as a tool for mark-making on paper or carpet. They will eventually disappear after years of erosion (use).

Paint built up in layers from a bucket originally used for my apartment walls, becomes a mold for a vessel made from paint. The outside layer or inside layer are tinted with subtle blues, greens, pinks or yellow. These are simple and direct. An object itself made from countless layers; replacing the original receptacle.

Paper maché landscape is built up like sediment. Bits of paper gathered over years fondled into a mound with great care, making my history of a specific time illegible and hidden in the depths of bedrock, never again understood as individual pages. Everything in this particular stack an unseen narrative lived by me, in the form of paper accumulated since 2014 – press releases from friend’s shows, cards from my mother, IKEA instruction books, an entire spiral notebook, an outdated farmer’s almanac, bills, checklists, paper from Amazon packaging, letters from boyfriends, catalogs, postcards from friends, etc. Laminated together randomly with Elmer’s glue, it’s completed as a whole, “written” and then broken down into four volumes.

Carpet carries its own history of use. There’s no denying this past – it is inherently gross and impossible to clean. The work aims to stir up an individual’s memories of making a mess on carpet. I rely on the viewer’s ability to read texture and surface with their eyes. Most people can recall the feeling of carpet underfoot, that knowledge and an understanding of the tactility of paint transcend the normal experience of viewing a painting.

My work mines my own specific history, complex and unique as the next person’s, with an aim of pointing at shared experience. I hesitate to let things and people go easily from my life, and this compulsion is allowed in my studio practice in a way that is not otherwise socially acceptable in day to day life. The result is work that is fun and sometimes dark and messy, but always with a bit of humor.


Born 1982
Lives and works in New York, NY.

Masters of Fine Arts, State University of New York at Purchase College, Purchase, NY (2012)
Post Baccalaureate in Studio Art, School of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, MA (2010)
Bachelors of Fine Arts in Painting, University of Alabama,Tuscaloosa, AL (2008)

SPRING/BREAK Black Mirror, curated by Kristen Racaniello, New York, NY (2017)
Summer Anagram, Nurture Art, Brooklyn NY (2016)Bomb Pop-Up, Brooklyn, NY (2016)
Line Up, Ess Ef Eff, Brooklyn, NY (2016)Colors, Louis B. James, New York, NY (2015)
Mingled Bodies, curated by Jovanna Stokic, Vanity Projects, New York, NY (2015)
Mingled Bodies, curated by Jovanna Stokic, Vanity Projects, Miami, FL (2015)
This Dog Needs a Name, curated by Kerry Cox, Good Work Gallery, Brooklyn, NY (2015)
Art Basel Muwkonago, curated by Sean J. Patrick Carney at Bahamas Biennnale Gallery, Muwkonago, WI (2014)
Kerri Oldham and Courtney Childress, Field Projects, New York, NY (2014)
New/Old Trash, Private Residence, New York, NY (2013) [solo] Four Lives, curated by Keri Oldham, Field Projects, New York, NY (2013)
You Are My Sunshine, Associated Gallery, Brooklyn, NY (2013)
Funny, curated by Jen Hitchings, Weeknights, Brooklyn, NY (2013)
8 DEGREES, Lu Magnus Gallery, New York, NY (2012)
Make The Road By Walking, Curated by Stamatina Gregory, The Passage Gallery,   Purchase, NY (2011)
Kinsey Institute Juried Show, Jurors: Christopher Bedford, Garry Milius, and Betsy   Stirratt. Bloomington, IN (2011)
And I Have a Bridge to Sell You, Passage Gallery, Purchase, NY (2011) [catalog] Soon Yee Purchase, 206 Rivington, New York, NY (2011)
Inside Out, Grossman Gallery, Boston, MA (2010)
Post Baccalaureate Fall Exhibition, SMFA Atrium Gallery, Boston, MA (2010)
TITLED, Student Gallery 1013, Purchase College SUNY, Purchase, NY (2010)
From a Pattern, ONO Gallery, Tuscaloosa, AL (2008)
ART BAZAAR, ONO Gallery, Tuscaloosa, AL (2008)
New Tease – BFA Thesis Exhibition, Woods Hall Gallery, Tuscaloosa, AL (2008) [solo] Platform 10, L&N Station, Tuscaloosa, AL (2008)

American Songbook, curated by RJ Supa, Louis B. James Gallery, New York, NY, 2015
Ma-Me-Mn-Mo-Mt, Courtney Childress and Aaron Krach, New York, NY, 2013

60 Minutes, Vanity Projects, New York, NY (2015)
60 Minutes, Vanity Projects, Miami, FL (2015)
No Name, co-curated with Aaron Krach, On Stellar Rays, New York, NY (2013)