I'm very honoured to have been selected as the inaugural artist of the Terrain-HATCH Public Art Residency in collaboration with Terrain Exhibitions and the Chicago Artist Coalition. I have been working closely with curator Kate Pollasch, the Terrain-HATCH Public Art Curatorial Resident, to conceive this project, and will be presenting the work on Sunday, February 5, 2017, from 2:00–5:00 p.m. at Terrain Exhibitions, located at 705 Highland Avenue, Oak Park, IL. For more details about the work and the Public Art Residency, please see the attached press release.
Tell Me You Love Me was exhibited at A-B Projects from November 15–December 1, 2016. On November 21, the above piece, titled "Neither Cruel Nor Unusual" was ordered to be removed.
Statement from the Curator:
A-B Projects is an alternative gallery that I created to augment my position as a bridge between Claremont Graduate University and Scripps College in the role of Lincoln Visiting Artist in Ceramics (2015-2018). A project space is inherently a venue for risk-taking and experimentation. A-B Projects (A-Bprojects.com) is a space for new modes of collaboration, experimental installations, and projects that reach beyond gallery walls into the public realm. It is a venue for building community and possibilities—an accessible, flexible and responsive space that capitalizes upon and creates new developments, particularly in the field of ceramics. Each semester I curate four solo exhibitions by local and national artists who concurrently lecture on their practice in my classes at Scripps College.
On November 14th Kate Hampel lectured at Scripps about the aesthetics of fear and her exhibition Tell Me You Love Me. Mere days after the election, with many of us feeling shocked and seeking ways forward, it felt incredibly important to hear Kate speak about her work. Kate is an artist who manages to gracefully illuminate some of the most difficult and even sinister topics that society offers. In the context of her work, it becomes possible to collectively question and to discuss deeply uncomfortable ideas. The use of both beauty and repulsion are part of the necessary tactics that bring us to this place.
Two of the materials in this installation, soil and rubber, gave off unexpected odors. Although the odor was, at first, contained in the project space, it came to my attention that a smell was permeating other parts of the art building. Together with staff and faculty at CGU, after two days of testing, we determined that the culprit was the soil. To address this problem, I added fans to adjust airflow, removed all traces of dirt and reinstalled Kate’s work in A-B Projects. The CGU Assistant Vice President for Risk Management deemed the matter resolved and said that the residual smell of rubber, contained only in A-B Projects itself, was not a health concern. Regardless, I was ordered by the CGU Art Department to deinstall Kate’s work before the start of business on November 21. Never before in my career as an artist or curator have I been required to remove a work of art from an exhibition and it is my hope that as a community of artists and educators, we can capitalize upon this moment to discuss issues of professional practice, institutional limitations, and the history of other works–from David Wojnarowicz's video at the National Portrait Gallery to Ai Wei Wei's Sunflower Seeds at the Tate Modern–that have faced a similar fate.
Statement from the Artist:
To be alive and alert means confronting difficult topics. It is the prerogative of artists to facilitate such confrontations through work that is challenging, affective, and even sometimes, yes, uncomfortable. We, as a society, are indebted to the bravery of such facilitators, from Karen Finley to Dread Scott, and to those who helped them to make and share their work for a wider public. We should be careful not to allow discomfort to be confused with danger.
“Neither Cruel Nor Unusual” addresses (among other things), the frailty of the human body and the aestheticization of capital punishment in the United States today. Not so coincidentally, on November 8 the state of California voted on California Propositions 62 and 66, ballot initiatives to, respectively, repeal the state’s death penalty and limit the ability of those on death row to appeal their sentences. The death penalty was maintained by a vote of 53.5% to 46.45% while prisoners’ ability to legally contest their sentences was limited by a vote of 51.9% to 49.1%. In other words, the state of California will continue to execute prisoners, and it will do so more quickly than before. The intense attention shown to the topic, and the relatively slim margin of victory, highlight both the urgency and divisiveness of the matter.
It saddens me that this work was removed based on an imagined threat to those who encountered it. These are times when nothing has become more normal than the forced silencing of those with whom we disagree, and under such silencing the potential for discussion, for empathy, and for critical questioning is deeply diminished. The discussion I would have hoped to foster has been preemptively shut down, but together with the curator, I strongly encourage the CGU community to seize the new opportunity presented: to question and critique the status quo, to challenge and allow oneself to be challenged, to be uncomfortable and to ask why this is so. Anything less does us all a disservice.
A couple of shots from the exhibition install and opening at A-B Projects... work with mirrors makes for many selfies.
Finally seeing the results of many days of mural printing!
September sends some of us back to school and some of us elsewhere... this morning I packed up my backpack and started my month as Artist in Residence at LATITUDE! I'm getting tech-y with the wide-format printers, colour-testing new fabrics, and printing by the bolt for two shows coming up this fall.
I'll be there varying days throughout the week, Fridays and Saturdays all day. Stop by and say hello!
Occasionally life and practice intersect in ways that seem almost too tidy. On a recent trip home I was digging through boxes of my grandmother's things, still unsorted as no one knows what to do with them. My dad wanted to give me some cross stitching she'd done, as he didn't know what else to do with them and giving things to me is the standard response to that (in the best of ways).
The cross stitchings were large; they were clearly cushion covers that my grandmother had never finished. Out of some sense of both obligation and delight I decided to take them home and finish them for her, fifty or sixty years later. As I sewed the zippers and piping I thought about that half-century divide between her labour and mine, and what it could mean to both of us as a strange, blind, collaborative effort--neither of us alive when the other completed their share of the work.
As part of the programming for the exhibition, we met with students from Mechtild Widrich's Beauty and Ugliness graduate seminar at SAIC and discussed the exhibition, their readings, and material that we had shared. I was excited to send out a chapter from Maggie Nelson's The Art of Cruelty: A Reckoning and talk about our thing-ness and, her words, our "situation of meat".
"If, at the very least, we are human, we must concede that humans evidence an ongoing interest in becoming, at certain times and in certain contexts, things, as much as in turning other people into things. The spectre of our eventual "becoming object"--of our (live) flesh one day turning into (dead) meat--is a shadow that accompanies us throughout our lives."
On July 20, 2015 the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled in favour of the Canadian government's suit to deny voting rights to Canadians who have lived abroad for more than 5 years. A Supreme Court case has been submitted to restore voting rights to all citizens, as this ruling is in opposition to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, but in the mean time the election is happening without the voices of 1.4 million Canadian citizens residing abroad. The Special Ballot Project is a protest, and a rebuttal to supporters of the law who have said we don't have skin in the game, aren't really part of the country anymore, and shouldn't get a vote if we don't pay taxes.
I recently had work in two shows that I wasn't able to make it to: Who's Afraid of Feminism? at A.I.R. Gallery in Brooklyn, and a show at the Textile Arts Factory in Thessaloniki, Greece.
Who's Afraid of Feminism? was curated by Catherine Morris, curator at the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, and she had great things to say about what it is to be part of a show like this (featuring work by self-identified women) in 2015:
"As we experience a profound shift in our understanding of the fluidity of gender identity, which is one of the defining features of this historical moment, feminism endures as a vital social, political and economic necessity. Artists included in Who's Afraid of Feminism address many of the most pressing social and cultural issues of our day--the mutability of gender constructions, marriage equality, body shaming, domestic violence, and culturally specific approaches to and priorities of feminism."
The Neon Dreams 2015 Paddle8 auction is live and I am loving the company my work is in! Image File Press has curated some of my faves together - online for now but soon to be united in pod form at the Threewalls benefit gala!
Bid now, bid often, you can't lose! ... Or you can, but then you can save your money for something else. Either way, check out the auction now and on May 29 at Moonlight Studios.