Ten years ago, Sara McCorriston and Jason Chen weren’t exactly sure what the Paradigm Gallery and Studio would eventually become.
Over time, the little art gallery at 4th and Fitzwater streets in Queen Village has emerged as a friendly showcase for large and local talent, and as a beacon for newer artists attempting to catch a break.
At the young, but established age of 10, Paradigm has become many things to many people.
“We started it 10 years ago without any definite plan in mind,” McCorriston said. “We just knew a lot of talented people, and their artwork deserves to be seen. It came from that place of just loving their artwork and being excited about it. And I’m still excited about it.”
Paradigm is celebrating its milestone with a comprehensive group exhibition, which features the work of more than 125 artists who have contributed artwork to the gallery during the last decade.
Appropriately called “TEN”, the new exhibition coincides with the anniversary, and spans across several mediums, including painting, drawing, sculpture, fibers, craft and mixed media.
The exhibition opened on Feb. 28 and will continue through March 21 on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from noon to 6 p.m.
TEN will also preview the work of several solo exhibitions coming up in the 2020 season at Paradigm. Collingswood resident Jedediah Morfit’s solo exhibition is right around the corner, beginning in April. The talented sculptor’s strong feelings on disorientation and contradiction are a theme in his upcoming show.
“This show reflects push-pull anxiety,” Morfit said. “The future’s amazing. (Stuff) happens so fast. Amazon packages show up on my doorstep, and I love my Apple Watch. But at the same time, getting everything delivered is manifestly bad. You know the flip side of everything happening and you have no idea how to feel.”
This will be Morfit’s second show at Paradigm.
“I really like the transparency of Paradigm,” he said. “The art world is full of nebulous bull. And Paradigm seems to find a way to transcend that. They like what they like and they’re not trying to spin it in a way where there’s any bad faith involved. The reason I ended up there was because all my favorite artists were there already.”
Media resident Kelly Kozma gave similar praise for Paradigm as her fifth solo show approaches in May.
“I love the accessibility,” Kozma said. “They don’t always go for what’s hot or trendy. They’re always trying to explore different mediums. And Sara and Jason are some of the most down-to-earth, hard-working people that I know. They’re loyal and loving and it feels like a family to be there.”
Kozma said she sold about 90 percent of her work at her last show and she’s looking forward to returning in a few months. The show uses many recycled materials, telling an abstract story of having something burn down and rebuilding from a foundation.
“It’s definitely layered,” Kozma said. “People say my work is very happy and very optimistic. But at the same time, it’s about the masks we wear and the facades we put up to get through traumatic times.”
Katherine Fraser’s fourth solo show will arrive in September. Originally from Maine, Fraser was displaying an oil on canvas painting called “The Illusion” during a recent celebration event for the Paradigm. She said her past events at the gallery have been profitable and helped her find her successful path in art.
“Sara and Jason are unlike any other gallery owners I’ve ever met,” Fraser said. “They hustle so hard, and from the minute we agreed to start working together, they were on my team and started promoting me. I’m selling so much art with them that I’m able to be more of a full-time artist than I ever have before. We’re all rising together.”
Paradigm has been on the rise for 10 years and it has no intentions of slowing down. The gallery has increased by four times in size since its opening.
“We started off tiny,” McCorriston said. “In a way, there still aren’t too many people behind the curtain, but we’re projecting a lot bigger than we did 10 years ago.”
The TEN exhibition pays homage to some of the original artists from the first year of business including Brad Haubrich and Noségo. It also features an exquisite corpse, which brings together a group of artists in collaborative play, to create a single work of art. In this case, 30 artists took part as a visual reminder of Paradigm’s ever-growing community. It’s a microcosm in a way of the gallery’s goals for the next 10 years.
“We want to push our artists to the next level, have more museum collections and also increase our program to work more with hotels,” McCorriston said. “We put artwork in over 1,000 hotel rooms.”
And they won’t stop there.
“We’re traveling and working with local artists and curating different programs,” McCorriston said. “I’m excited for Paradigm to be known more around the world as we continue to travel and bring it elsewhere.”