Across No Tears for the Sun at Stems Gallery in Paris, Shaina McCoy beckons out to all who are in search of a little piece of home. Prompted by a move to Los Angeles almost one year ago, the artist’s third solo exhibition at Stems dauntlessly approaches the sentiments of homesickness–loneliness and nostalgia, grief and anxiety, comfort and yearning. Within these 17 works, all newly created within her home and studio in LA, McCoy memorializes the people, places and bodies of water that push and pull us toward home.

In her signature style of impasto defined faces, McCoy eschews distinct facial features, allowing her subjects to stand in for the familiar faces we are all looking for in a crowd. Continuing her practice of pulling subject matter from her family’s photo albums, McCoy reminisces on the impressions of her homelife back in Minnesota that twinkle within her mind’s eye. In Aunty Love, a small boy wraps his arms tightly around the neck and body of a pink sweatered woman. It’s the kind of lingering hug that embodies the promise of an imminent goodbye. In Chris and Bre, a man looks longingly at the face of a child, clad in a big white bow and the doilies of her Sunday best. It’s the kind of look that is analyzing for the passing of time through a youthful and aging face. 

McCoy has set her intentions on an exploration of the outdoors, with a new nostalgic appreciation for the changing of seasons and inclement weather far from the sunshine of Los Angeles. In Grandma B a woman lies soundly on a blue cushion, her solitude protected by a row of hedges, her gaze directed to the buttery lemon sky of Summer. The works are imbued with muted pastels, impressionistic in nature, and reminiscent of melancholic memories and hazy daydreams. In Water for You a gorgeous lake scene encompasses the relaxed shoulders of a teenage boy, who prominently faces the viewer, seeking for you to join him. Water is a key interest in this series, as in all of its different forms, it is a sacred experience to the ebb and flow of lifetimes, to which McCoy invites you to join her. Smaller in size than her typical works, the series demands more intimate attention from its viewers.

In No Tears for the Sun McCoy is inspired by the poem of Minnesotan Danez Smith, I’m Going Back to Minnesota where Sadness Makes Sense. With the changing of seasons, we can mark the passing of time. With rain we are inspired to warm a cup of tea and stare longingly out the window. With Winter we can watch the old fall away, knowing with Spring that life has a chance to be new. No Tears for the Sun is McCoy’s metaphorical umbrella from the California rays–knowing home is a place that will never blind you with its light. – Shaquille Heath