Josephine Halvorson  Ground Register: Spiral, 2019  Gouache and site material on panel  106.7 x 81.3 cm / 42 x 32 in

Press Release

Josephine Halvorson

Five Grounds

July 2 - August 2, 2021

Gaa Gallery Provincetown


Gaa Gallery is pleased to announce Five Grounds, an exhibition of paintings by Josephine Halvorson. The exhibition will be on view July 2 through August 2, 2021, at Gaa Gallery located at 494 Commercial Street, Provincetown, MA. An opening reception will be held on Friday, July 2, from 6 to 8 pm. A reception with the artist will take place at the gallery on Friday, July 30.


In Five Grounds, Halvorson presents paintings made in relation to specific sites: coastal Maine, the Mojave desert, and Western Massachusetts, where the artist lives. Halvorson is known for employing the tradition of plein air painting to foreground experience, time, and place. These pieces are selected from a series made between 2018 to 2020 and incorporate painting, found materials, and printmaking to describe encounters with specific patches of the ground.


Characterized by a topographical view from above, these are landscapes without horizons. Expanse is exchanged for a groundward gaze, drawing our attention to worlds underfoot. Focusing our eyes on what is typically blurred along the periphery, Halvorson shifts the margins to the center, asking us to consider what we tend to overlook. Describing pebbles, rubble, soil, leaves, human markings, and discarded things, Halvorson’s paintings show a multitude of timescales and histories. Simultaneously vibrant and still, the paintings in Five Grounds navigate across the geological timescales of the earth and humans’ claims upon it.


As an artist, Halvorson bears witness to places and things and describes what she sees in real time. Brushing on watery color, which dries within seconds, she transforms painting into a time-based medium where each stroke is registered and recorded. This way of working finds its roots in fresco painting, where pigment soaks into the ground and becomes instantly unretractable. The paintings’ frames, reminiscent of photographic formats, such as a 35mm slide holder or a polaroid image, offer further evidence of firsthand experience. Meticulously prepared to incorporate materials found on site, such as rocks, clay, glass, iron, and plastic, these surrounds are surroundings, embedding the sites’ geological and industrial pasts.


Several of Halvorson’s works include a printed instrument of calibration or informational notation, such as a date stamp, ruler, compass, or color swatches. These visual markers function as a legend or key, translating the interior painting to the exterior worlds of its making and viewing. Halvorson registers experience by painting what she sees. The surrounding frame registers the painting in place and time. Together, they offer subjective and objective accounts of reality, expressing a fuller truth.


Josephine Halvorson (b. 1981, Brewster, Massachusetts) holds a BFA from The Cooper Union (2003) and an MFA from Columbia University (2007). Halvorson is the recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship (2021), a fellowship at the French Academy in Rome (2014-15), a Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Grant (2009), and was a Fulbright Fellow to Vienna (2003-4). Her work has been featured in many solo and group exhibitions throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia. Selected exhibitions include SECCA (2015), Storm King Art Center (2016), the ICA Boston Foster Prize Exhibition (2019-20), and Ríos Intermitentes, a group exhibition curated by Magdalena Campos-Pons as part of the Havana Bienale (2019). In 2021 she will have a solo exhibition at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, NM, where she was an artist in residence. Halvorson’s work and practice have been written about extensively and she is a subject of Art21’s documentary series New York Close Up. Halvorson has taught at The Cooper Union, Princeton University, the University of Tennessee Knoxville Columbia University, and Yale University. In 2016 Halvorson joined Boston University as Professor of Art and Chair of Graduate Studies in Painting. She lives and works in Western Massachusetts.