When artist Frances Berry graduated from the University of Alabama in 2008 with a degree in Digital Media, she moved forward as a photographer not knowing that one day, other mediums would fill her art card. Frances manipulates images in a way that leaves you feeling like you are looking at a painting. She uses mostly vintage photos in her work, distorting the way we view the image. These digital media photos are reserved mostly for her website. However, you can catch the other side of Frances on her Instagram, as she works in bright, vivid colors on paintings that jump out at you and get you excited to see what she will do next.
Working from her home studio in downtown Memphis, TN, Frances has an energy that is unmatched by most, as seen in her workspace with a backdrop of bold black and white hand painted panels lining the walls, filled with vibrant pieces of artwork. “I keep the first floor clear so that I can roller skate inside,” Frances tells us. “My studio is a constantly evolving organism which shares a symbiotic relationship with me. Stacks of paper ephemera piled on shelves, a hodgepodge of mismatched, discarded furniture, walls that look like scrapbook pages, stacks of books and other things I’ve collected and, of course, my roller skates. I like to think of my studio [as] a laboratory and all the things in it as specimens to study and be surrounded with.” Hearing her say that, it makes sense that there wasn’t a tuning point to painting — a moment that made her decide to pick up the brush. Instead she’s just working in several art forms, moving in a parallel direction with one another.
Jumping from paintings to collages to photography to digital media, Frances is a self-described “picture maker,” often selling her work directly from her street-level studio. “I wanted a space that I could work in without the space working against me, and I knew I wanted a lot of space and to be downtown. This is one of the only places that offers both.” See how Frances works in this 2,600-square-foot live-in workspace that she shares with her dog — along with the results of her artistic laboratory of specimens and experiments. —Erin
Photography by Erin Austen Abbott
Image above: Frances, in her studio, creating a mixed media painting.