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Champy: An installation by Emilia Edwards

August 20 – November 15, 2008


Champy is the first solo, large-scale painted installation by emerging artist Emilia Edwards.  Edwards’ influences come from an eclectic mix of street graphics and posters encountered during her travels; the works of underground comic artists R. Crumb and Robert Williams, and collage artist Jess Collins; as well as favorite 1990s animated television shows such as He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Batman, and John Kricfalusi’s Ren and Stimpy.  Edwards uses primarily brush and ink to create fluid lines and dense narratives, and in constructing her work, she utilizes found images and her own photography, observations, and invented images. 

For the Richard F. Brush Art Gallery, Edwards has chosen to depict regional sensation “Champy,” the alleged monster that resides in Lake Champlain, located mainly along the border of New York and Vermont.  Champy rose to popular attention after the sighting of a giant water serpent by Sheriff Nathan Mooney in the late 19th century and became so popular that P. T. Barnum put up a $50,000 reward for its carcass to include it in his epic Traveling World’s Fair.  Since then, over 300 sightings of the cryptid have been reported.

In this installation, Edwards’ panorama, another 19th-century phenomenon and perhaps the IMAX of its day, conflates the legend of Champy with the current and very real infestation of the Lake Champlain Basin by the lamprey eel.  Here, her stark and monstrous Champy writhes across the Gallery walls in a killing orgy, the waters of Lake Champlain portrayed as an inky blackness. 

Edwards was born in Los Angeles in 1986 and recently graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. 

Special thanks to Christopher Sperandio.