2017 National Juried Art Exhibition
Histories & Memories
Exhibition Dates: January 23 - March 3, 2017
Reception and Juror's Lecture: January 26, 2017, 4-6 p.m., Tom Thomas Gallery
“For every image of the past that is not recognized by the present as one of its own concerns threatens to disappear irretrievably.”
–Walter Benjamin, “Theses on the Philosophy of History”
To quote Walter Benjamin’s seminal essay, Theses on the Philosophy of History, “to articulate the past historically does not mean to recognize it ‘the way it really was’ (Ranke). It means to seize hold of a memory as it flashes up at a moment of danger.” In this era of heightened domestic and global tensions, perhaps it is important for us to think about our past, present, and future as individuals as well as a collective unit in a holistic, and yet diversified manner. For this exhibition, artists were invited to submit works in which personal experiences and memories are points of departure and/or inspiration for the work as well as those works that address the concepts of collective history and/or memory, no matter how controversial.
Over 500 works were submitted for inclusion from 40 states and the District of Columbia, from which 36 works were chosen by this year’s juror, Josh Hagler.
Ann B. Kim
Assistant Professor of Fine Arts
Indiana University East
Based in Los Angeles, Joshua Hagler’s work has followed a natural evolution from an intense interest in religious thought and its history, Westward Expansion, notions of progress and exploration, and ideas in theoretical physics. With a focus in painting, Hagler’s ideas and interests expand into installation, video, animation, book-making and other projects. Feelings alternately of amnesia, redemptive yearning, and the freezing or collapsing of time weave through various projects and media.
Since 2006, Hagler has exhibited with galleries and museums throughout North America, Europe, and Australia, including many solo exhibitions. He has participated in residencies in Norway, Italy, and in California, and was included in last year’s debut of Torrance Art Museum’s studio program in the Los Angeles area. His most recent solo exhibition, “The Adopted” traveled from La Sierra University in Riverside, California to JAUS Gallery in Los Angeles in late 2015 and early 2016. Recent features and reviews include the New York Times, Vogue (Italy), Art Ltd., Juxtapoz, Beautiful//Decay, Fabrik Magazine, and the San Francisco Chronicle.
2017 will debut two of Hagler’s most ambitious projects to date at the Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami and the Brand Library Art Center in Los Angeles. The exhibitions will include sculpture, video, sound installation, and new experiments in his painting practice.
In addition to making art, Hagler writes a monthly column for Venison Magazine entitled “How To Give a Shit,” chronicling adventures in the Los Angeles art scene in alternately funny and deeply felt, though altogether unadvisable ways.
Jurying an exhibition by perusing 500 or so jpegs of work by artists I’ve never met, whose studios I’ve never entered, and whose private stages of evolution I could not have traced, is an overwhelming exercise in both imposing judgment and then questioning it. How aware am I of my inherent bias? Why do I like what I like? John Cage famously said, "The first question I ask myself when something doesn't seem to be beautiful is why do I think it's not beautiful. And very shortly you discover that there is no reason.” Since there is no reason that something is not beautiful, what can I describe to you, the reader, in this small space provided, which would give you at least a somewhat accurate account of what emerged in these 500 jpegs?
I found patterns of shared concerns, obsessions, and histories among artists who had never met each other. I found domestic artifacts—embroidery, chairs, dresses, crocheted photo frames—suggesting a paradox of safety and trauma in the omitted histories of everyday life. I found there to be power in work that whispered, private memories disquieted with the distance that time provides, in which untold stories, often women’s, wait to be excavated by the artist.
The visual repetition of circles, whether photography, video, painting, or sculpture, seemed more intentional than they possibly could have been among all these disparate works. Nevertheless, I wanted to trust that the artists had their reasons and that the viewer might find a connection to the very sensation of history and memory in them, if for no other reason than that they evoke, in general terms, things like cycles, wombs, eyes, the sun, the moon, and passageways.
I found so many little teeth and toothlike objects. Lead teeth, the teeth of coyote skulls, the words “my teeth my teeth my teeth” ominously quilted into tapestry, eucalyptus pods and seashells that themselves looked like teeth and looked as if they had teeth, utilized to form a rough veneer on handmade vessels. I thought of teeth that fall out with age. Teeth that crumble in dreams. Teeth examined by traders of animals and of slaves. Teeth pulled out after death to be traded again.
I found depictions of water eroding surfaces and in receding, revealing what the landscape hides. I found books that kept records—intentional records, accidental records. I found family photos and home videos hiding truths in plain sight. I found fog. I found soot. I found empty buildings.
Perhaps most importantly, what I found in most of the work I saw was a sincere regard for nooks and crannies in time and space, that in day-to-day life many of us would prefer not to regard, then, given new life. History, I found the best of these works to demonstrate, is hidden right here in the present, and it will be confronted.
Art is inherently investigative. It empowers us to critically examine our world, our culture, and above all ourselves. In 2012 I began researching domestic violence in Missouri and was astonished by the lack of data. The police and media treated both abuse and murder as isolated events without addressing any larger issue of violence against women.
In response I sought to create empathic memorials for women which could also serve as legitimate data sets. These works have included antique cross-stitches, re-embroidered with dates of murder in a given year, as well as interactive displays which allow women to share their own stories of abuse in a safe and empowering manner. Combining domestic craft traditions with contemporary technologies enables this work to tread simultaneously into public policy, collective memory, social engagement, and outreach. As an artist, I am incredibly excited about the potential for new tools and technologies to address a continued culture of indifference.
In 2003, shortly after moving back to the Philadelphia area, I brought a group of my photography students from Mercer Community College to the Eastern State Penitentiary on a field trip. It was a great photographic site. The reports I had heard about the architecture of the facility were definitely true, and the light and feeling of abandonment really gave off a sense that the Penitentiary might still be inhabited by ghosts or spirits. But there are a lot of abandoned spaces like that, so my first trip to the site would probably have been my last if I didn't return to Philadelphia on a completely different class trip a few weeks later - this time, as a student.
The Warden's entries brought the Penitentiary to life for me. Through his words, the space now felt inhabited and connected to deep emotions - infused with new meaning. The logs include details about prisoners' families, whether they could read or write, whether they felt guilty about their crimes, whether they were penitent.
While I paint with urgency, it also is something I consider at a distance, as a practice, with a clear voice and a place in the contemporary painting conversation.
I engage only the intuition of my eyes and hand, intent only to tell a story. It is partly always the story of myself, and because of the way I palimpsestically reuse and repurpose previous canvases, it is also the story of each painting's own making.
I think of my works as memories, built-up over time, compressed and comingled, their preciousness waxing and waning, inscrutable and elusive until called forth at unexpected moments, transformed by later events in unanticipated ways. I paint ambiguous accretions of accumulated emotions about, and arising from, the sparks and shadows of the human mind.
An empathetic rhythm moves the brush and shapes my titles, which feed each other. That poetic interaction invites you to reconcile the title and image, and find resonance -personal and universal - with the melody.
News media and politicians require us to answer who and what are we fighting for? Who are we against? Who is with and like "us"? What defines "them"? Prejudice, bigotry and stereotyping have always been part of American society but new "others" have emerged.
Definitions of the nation-state and patriotism, the consumption and influence of mainstream media images and the consequences of effortlessly compartmentalizing and stereotyping groups in contemporary culture are some of the main themes driving my current work.
I create sculptural landscapes that evoke a tradition based in the bucolic and infuse it with contemporary fears and anxieties - genetically modified foods, immigration, pollution, climate change, Ebola, war, ISIS, and technology.
By depopulating the landscape I create a void, a space where only the activity is occurring or has occurred - a storm or tornado, a raft on the ocean, a bomb blast crater, a smoke stack. The viewer can populate it with the latest bogeyman.
Hand stitching isn't fast work. It's a quiet skill that feels tenuous, lost in a contemporary context, slipping away like childhood, like domesticity, like safety beneath the weight of something handmade. I sew because I don't know what it is to not sew, despite the connotation of "minor art" or "women's work" and it's this expectation of what the hand-sewn form is - protective, warm, decorative ... the definition of the domestic role - that compels me to push against it. I use the traditional, beautiful handwork I was taught as a girl, then later as a professional seamstress and couch it within the painful, uncomfortable or frightening. My intent is to create thoughtful, arresting work, reliant on layers of narrative within the pieces themselves and within the history each viewer brings.
This is time-based work, using old skills. An act of cutting apart, then piecing oneself back together.
I am the photography instructor at Earlham College. I was born in Lakeland, Florida, in 1950, and attended Emory University in Atlanta on a National Merit Scholarship, where I majored in English literature.
I went to law school at Boston University and practiced corporate finance law for 25 years -- first on Wall Street, then in Dallas and Houston, where I was twice voted a "Texas Super Lawyer."
In 2001, I entered graduate school at the University of Houston, received my Master of Fine Arts degree in 2004, and joined the Earlham faculty later that year.
My photography deals often with how humanity deals with the inescapable fact of death through religion, monuments and other memorials.
My photographs are in approximately 300 public, corporate and private collections, including the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, the Richmond Art Museum, the Center for Photography at Woodstock, Indiana University East, Ivy Tech Community College, The Wayne County Foundation and Reid Memorial Hospital.
Glenn Richardson is a sculptor living in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. He primarily reduces large pieces of native wood with chainsaws to achieve the desired effect. He uses redneck technology for progressive purposes. His background in landscape architecture and horticture focuses his work on politics as building the palimpsest of the landscape we borrow for our brief moment.
In the past 12 months he has carved over 200 live portraits with a chainsaw in his guise of Ziggy Sawdust and the Chainsawsecond from Mars, appearing from Miami to Washington DC, Darlington, Maryland and Burning Man, Black Rock City, Nevada.
As Ziggy he challenges the traditional role of artist and audience with the final portrait as an artifact of the shared group experience.
My "Mountain's Memory" series investigates the ways that the landscape of the American West has been surveyed and altered. During the middle 19th Century extensive geological surveys were conducted by the newly formed USGS. The vast new western territories were mapped and combed for mineral resources. Topographic maps were created from these surveys, which are still referenced today. Google Earth uses this topographic data to drape their aerial photography of the surface of the earth.
In the years since the original surveys, the surface of the earth has been altered by accumulative and reductive human activity, changing the landforms. The 10,000 ft peaks near Cripple Creek, CO are one of many sites of change- where the Google image data and the USGS topographic data do not align. The result is my current site of investigation: a mysterious terraced crater draped over the ghost mass of former mountains. The landscape is surreal, and can be navigated in street view.
Physical and cultural impermanence are themes that are central to my work. Drawing upon the dimly illuminated past, material culture, and literature, shades of original context are echoed within the pieces through an array of visual clues. Through three dimensional work and collage, the pieces manifest an emotional tactility of the ephemeral, mysterious nature of the material world and reality.
Themes of transformation, unease, and illusion within the written work of Robert Walser, Gogol, and Kafka are emotional and aesthetic touch-points that generate my responses to materials and visual interpretation. My family's history of displacement: relocation from Russia, Germany and finally to America is referenced throughout the work.
The collage/assemblages are pieces tenuously held together with tape, clothespins, and cord, serving dual purposes in content and construction. Family photographic images, ephemera, and resurrected detritus evoke vanished time, place, and domestic culture.
As a child, my Father and I would regularly walk the nearby railroad tracks. Collecting animal skulls and railroad spikes to take home and put in a box.
Railroad tracks are interesting places. Desolate, dangerous and exposed to the elements. The Skulls possess beauty and aesthetic qualities, but are primarily a reminder of mans impermanence.