Spiritual Awakenings: Langdon Graves’ “Month’s Mind” at Victori+Mo

In Henrik Ibsen’s “Ghosts,” the story’s protagonist, Mrs. Alving, is a woman driven nearly mad by the profligities of a husband since deceased. Her suspicions, agonies and fears manifest into lingering presences that she summarily labels as ‘ghosts’. “I am inclined to believe that we are all ghosts,” she mutters to a family confidant. While for Ibsen these ‘ghosts’ allude to one man’s sins, ghosts have remained a frequent reference point in literature throughout the centuries, as ghosts and hauntings have persistently crept into society’s consciousness. Every culture has held onto their own form of ghost stories. Yet, can ghosts remain congruent to our present reality in which data and security camera leave little room for subjectivity and conjecture?

“Month’s Mind” solo exhibit of works by Langdon Graves; installation view at Victori+Mo (toward the rear of space)

One artist who is convinced they can is artist Langdon Graves, whose formidable solo show “Month’s Mind” remains on view at Victori+Mo through January 18, 2020. The subtlety of this curious exhibit lingers in the mind long after a visitor encounters Graves’ work. The exhibit features seemingly everyday objects often with a peculiar twist: pencils bend around tables, while maggots crawl through lifelike apples and flowers. These works appear in suprising configurations and cavalcades, locked in a frozen procession – a funereal march across a pastel-tinged space. Rooted in a carefully meted blend of autobiography and research-based practice, “Month’s Mind” marks an exhibit that hints at the delicate relationship between macabre and memorial, grief and the occult. The title itself refers to an old English practice of marking the memory of someone one month since deceased, and the contrast between soothing and morbid – a ‘finger’ hangs suspended from six feet below a spray of daisies on one wall of the exhibit – shifts its weight carefully throughout the expanse of space.

Another carefully balanced juxtaposition held firmly in place by Graves’ sure hand is the dissonance separating empricism and the supernatural. While data can indicate correlations, it cannot always explain: Graves knows as much from life experience. Raised with a strong memory of her grandmother, who recalled the artist’s great-grandfather’s mortician vocation and the religious experience of boarding school life at Georgetown Visitation Monastery, the artist recalls her grandmother’s tales of gruesome hauntings. Her earliest memory of her grandmother sharing a haunting occurred at a young age: as she recalls, her grandmother remembers that after a close relative passed on, she fell asleep only to awaken to gloves emerging from a nearby wardrobe. This mysterious tale became lodged firmly within the artist’s consciousness, spurring her onto a greater understanding of death: the attitudes toward it and how grief and trauma are processed.

If one seeks the very core of Graves’ practice, it rests rooted in the ideals we hold about the world around us. “All of my work starts out about belief, ” notes Graves, “I’ll study one subject and it leads into the next thing.” Here, the procession of research that Graves uncovered marches in step much like the ethereal arrangements spanning “Month’s Mind.” Spiritualism and women’s rights hold court alongside floriography, figures of speech and medical protocol. Most notable about the exhibit as a whole is not what is necessarily displayed physically, but how each work holds a palpable psychological presence that presages what is absent. Substance emerges from these objects, yes, but also from the shadows of meaning they cast.

 

“Month’s Mind”: a solo exhibit of works by Langdon Graves; installation view at Victori+Mo (rear of space)

Another masterstroke of Graves’ exhibition is the seamless connections between seemingly disparate aspects of the works on view: a custom-made, sculpted “pencil” bent around a table’s edge references the Spiritualist movement of the late 1800s and the mediums of Lily Dale, New York. A bar of soap reaching out from the wall toward the viewer in the next room portrays women’s rights icon Susan B. Anthony. These two seemingly disparate objects contain a shared reference point in Lily Dale, New York. The town just one hour south of Buffalo, NY, was a canonic site for Spiritualists of the late 19th century, and a generative, supportive site for the Women’s Suffrage Movement.  Susan B. Anthony herself had close friends and supporters based in Lily Dale: she spoke at the memorial service of a dear friend and fellow activist who passed away in the town in 1890. Graves forms tightly held associations that link together her artworks as surely as we are linked to those who maintain their presence in our lives, yet just as tenuously as we hold onto those connections that fade with time after the passing of the ones we love.

Detail image from “Month’s Mind” : a solo exhibit of works by Langdon Graves; installation view

“Month’s Mind” is on view at Victori+Mo through January 18, 2020; the gallery is open on Saturdays 10-6 pm and by appointment. This marks Langdon Graves’ second solo exhibition at the gallery. Graves is a visiting professor at Pratt and teaches at Parsons School of Design, and her studio is in Brooklyn, NY. For more information, please visit the gallery’s website.

Skin Deep: The Exhilarating “Body Politic” On View at NYU’s Kimmel Windows

In the immaculate words of feminist and activist Gloria Steinem, “Each individual woman’s body demands to be accepted on its own terms.” This admonishment pervades the transcendental exhibition currently on view through Nov 10 at NYU’s Kimmel Windows exhibit space, “Lilia Ziamou: body politic /bädē päl-tik/”. Featuring works by Lilia Ziamou and curated by Pamela Jean Tinnen, the presentation of this collection of works outwardly facing the various passersby on LaGuardia Place and W. 3rd mounts a powerful, visionary response to how we consider ourselves – and others. It can reflect the ways in which our self-perception can become distorted. Perhaps it ruminates on how society constantly projects women’s bodies as idealized forms in various ads throughout public spaces. The exhibition leaves room for speculation and space to absorb the images – true or distorted – which lie before us. Works from this series by Ziamou question how new technology mediates the way we see ourselves or how others anticipate and perceive our appearance. Perceptions of the body are stacked against the realities of the biological building blocks that determines who we are and how we appear. Ziamou bravely steps forward into an artistic inquiry of what makes us human, playing with preconceived ideas of how we establish our physical identities as a whole from the sum of our parts. “By reimagining and reconstructing body fragments, I am constantly exploring and intrigued by the ways we can challenge existing constraints of form, materials, and processes,” remarks Ziamou.

“1 am” (2018) artwork on view in body politic /bädē päl-tik/ at NYU Kimmel Windows

 

This exhibition at the Kimmel Windows is curated by NYU’s own Pamela Jean Tinnen. The curator notes that she was drawn initially to Ziamou’s examination and recreation of human bones, re-contextualizing them as artworks. In the art canon of portraiture, it can be argued that Ziamou’s hip-bone 3-D scan recreations are a continuation of a centuries-long tradition of figurative art. Tinnen also reflects on other areas where these works draw parallel lines to long-existing or contemporary traditions. “What’s very interesting about Lilia’s work is how it plays on the abject, but through her ability to refine the subject through various media-processes, she creates visual distance while maintaining conceptual resonance.” Tinnen continues, “I’ve always been intrigued by Julia Kristiva’s writings on Abjection which discusses human reactions to encountering, as a primary example, a corpse. These encounters elicit horror but also a certain fascination. A corpse, or in the case of Lilia’s work, the human bone, puts us in the presence of ‘signified death.’ Kristiva suggests our horror-reaction results from a threatened breakdown in meaning caused by the loss of the distinction between subject and object, or between self and other.” This breakdown that occurs when the body perceives another body, yet recognizes this fragment of bone also depicts an invisible portion of one’s own self, causes a ripple of self-awareness. It can be argued that this exhibit also sparks empathy for others and an intimate acceptance of our own appearance – an appearance that can shift over time due to factors such as time and environment.

The environment of the exhibition itself, facing outward from the Kimmel Center, has shifted over time as the ground zero for artists in bohemian Greenwich Village in the mid-20th century to a haven for NYU students today. This public-facing exhibit – which some students can pass several times a day, along with other members of the community – offers a repeating opportunity for reflection and deeper engagement with how we can intrinsically seek deeper meaning in the very things we take for granted: the architecture of our physical selves and the urban planning and architecture defining our immediate presence in a larger cityscape. By keeping the vestibules in which Ziamou’s transcendental works are exhibited stark, almost clinical, those encountering the work can focus their attention on the prints and sculptures facing them from the Kimmel. “The exhibit’s design, simple and starkly white, contributes to a certain visual sterilization, which works well to present the artwork,” notes Tinnen. This simple structuring can be seen as a skeleton in itself: supporting works on view and allowing for immediate access of each fragment of the perpendicular exhibition along LaGuardia and Third.

“The Bone as Body” (2019) artwork on view in body politic /bädē päl-tik/ in NYU Kimmel Windows

Ziamou here has considered not only the internal structure of the body, but also how we decorate and define ourselves as members of a society. Her bone sculpture informs the installation referencing a garment she has presented in this same exhibit: an installation that servse as a recreation of our bodies as presented through our fashion choices. Her work speaks a subtle message about the inner psychology that determines our outward appearances: we can knowingly or unknowingly select garments that flatter and project aspects of our anatomy that we take pride in. The artist considers and puts forth artistic hypotheses about how various aspects of our countenance can be mistaken or recreated, creating subtle provocations for the audience. What effect do photo filters on apps have on our psychology? How can our appearances be manipulated for those who consume them? When is the last time we considered that the majority of who we are is not visible to the naked eye? Ziamou deftly plays with these questions, and more, in this impactful solo exhibition.

Detail shot, “1 am” – body politic /bädē päl-tik/ in NYU Kimmel Windows

 

Curated by Pamela Jean Tinnen, don’t miss “Lilia Ziamou: body politic /bädē päl-tik/” – on view through Nov 10 at NYU’s Kimmel Windows exhibit space on LaGuardia Place and West Third at New York University. 

The Empowering Artistic Practice of Marguerite Elliot

There is much to uncover in the diverse and precise artistic practice of artist Marguerite Elliot. Her career spans decades of women’s art herstory along the faultlines of second-wave feminism on the West Coast. Elliot’s career incorporates a vibrant interdisciplinary practice as an artist, welder, author, curator and video producer. Previously based in LA, Elliot now lives and works in Marin County in the northern San Francisco Bay Area. She was a pivotal founding member of the renowned LA-based Woman’s Building, the premier center for Feminist art, that operated for 18 years beginning in 1973. Recently, the world-renowned Getty Research Institute was awarded funding to preserve archives related to the Building, and on April 22nd Elliot will be honored alongside other women pioneers at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles. In addition to her work teaching art at the LA Woman’s Building, she also taught at the Otis College of Art and Design. Her work has been included in exhibitions across the United States, including in a prestigious exhibition, Committed to Print, that dealt with about social issues – including feminism – at the renowned Museum of Modern Art in New York, NY.

 

“Saved for Eternity” Marguerite Elliot. Mixed media.

 

Elliot has been and continues to be a formidable artist spearheading developments in West Coast feminism while also serving as an incredible force for social critique and pioneering postmodern artworks created from metalworking and steel. Her vibrant presence as a Founding Member of the LA Woman’s Building informed the community’s incredible impact, exerting a presence that could be felt over the life and cultural scene in the greater Los Angeles area. A welder and sculptor, Elliot regularly creates large-scale artworks that require a precise and exacting skill set and complete mastery of metalworking methods. Working in steel from an early period of her practice, Elliot was a trailblazer not only for a cohort of women sculptors but she has also purposed her artwork into a means of addressing hot-button topics such as nuclear proliferation, environmental preservation and homelessness.

“Rift” Marguerite Elliot. Mixed media.
“Saraswati” Marguerite Elliot. Mixed media.

In addition to sustaining a demanding art studio practice, Elliot has steered feminist art history and theory with her incredibly thorough the comprehensive publication, “The Woman’s Building and Feminist Art Education, 1973-1991: A Pictorial Herstory.” Edited by Elliot and Maria Karras and published by the Otis College of Art & Design, provides an in-depth look into the remarkable influence the LA Woman’s Building sustained as a force for change as a part of the greater second-wave feminism movment. Outlining how the Woman’s Building steered the career trajectories of artists and changemakers such as Judy Chicago, Miriam Schapiro and many, many more, this tome holds a pivotal place in defining women’s impact in the Modern Art canon. Elliot’s position as a guest of honor at the Getty to honor her legacy as part of this group of powerful and unrelenting women on April 22nd is well-deserved and long overdue.

Elliot’s work is decisive and, frequently, physically demanding. With a carefully developed skill set that encompasses the punishing and technically precise requirements that welding requires, Elliot not only operates within a formally precise artistic lexicon, she applies her artistic acumen toward realizing socio-political change and working toward a common good.

 

“Where Did I Come From” Marguerite Elliot. Cast Bronze Rocks on Shelves.

 

Currently practicing across small and large-scale welded and mixed media sculpture, she exhibits a keenly psychological and insightful approach to her artworks. Elliot’s artwork titles, such as “Where Did I Come From” and “Saved for Eternity” also assume an autobiographical, yet ambiguous, approach. Continuing to pursue abstraction, Elliot continually digs deeper into her iconography to produce precisely rendered forms that resonate with viewers in an introspective and, often, personal significance. Viewers of Elliot’s work can ponder the meaning of eternity and the now within her practice: space and time seem to collapse under the significance of her keen and philosophical vision.

Elliot’s works have been shown in countless solo and group exhibits in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York City, and they are held in numerous public and private collections including New York’s MoMA. Elliot’s exhibitions have been reviewed in major art publications including the Los Angeles Times, the NY-based Village Voice, Art Week, and the Washington Post. She is a recipient of a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Elliot’s curatorial experience includes private, non-profit, and municipal galleries In Los Angeles and San Francisco and she is currently head of Elliot Art Productions, a company that works with artists to market their art and specializes in creative, promotional videos for artists. Upcoming exhibits include at North Bay Investment Partners in Berkeley, and the Sanchez Art Center in Pacifica, CA, and her studio in Fairfax welcomes visitors by appointment.

“Don’t Touch Me” Marguerite Elliot. Mixed media.

 

 

Feminist Perspectives: Impressions from Pulse Art Fair During Miami Art Week 2018

by Katie Hector

 

Slightly north of the beating heart of Miami Art Week, Pulse Art Fair – anchored at Indian Beach Park, as always – continues to keep art week feeling fresh! ANTE. toured Pulse to pick out the top presentations not-to-be-missed at the 2018 iteration of the fair, open through Dec 9.

NY FEM FACTORY image courtesy Jessica Yatrofsky

NY FEM FACTORY A Tree Grows at Pulse

What happens when a booth is really a tree? NY Fem Factory observed this alternative to a white cube space as an invitation for giving visitors a moment of rest and reflection along with a healthy dose of feminism with their project Pink Privacy. Neon signs created by artist Dana Caputo depict the venus symbol and hang like strange fruit from a sea grape tree. sprouting whimsically from the fair floor. The signs are visually striking and attract attention from across the South Tent, imploring viewers to come a little closer with enticingly soft pink light. Landline phones positioned on glass coffee tables at the base of the tree play pre-recorded voices reciting each individual’s experiences as women. When asked which came first, the tree or the installation, NY FEM FACTORY elaborated on the project. “Originally, we planned on receiving a space with walls where we could create an immersive installation,” observed NY FEM FACTORY artist Jessica Yatrofsky. Pink Privacy represents a cohesive collaboration featuring female-identifying artists who have created a safe space to connect, relate stories, and express creative impulses together as a community.

installation view of Mindy Solomon gallery courtesy the gallery

MINDY SOLOMON GALLERY Florida Vibes

Step into Gallerist Mindy Solomon’s bubbly and colorful world presentation (Booth N-102), which boasts a healthy collection of ceramics and paintings highlighting an innovative array of perspectives. Established in 2009, Mindy Solomon Gallery is palpably integrated into the fabric of the Florida art scene. Where some showings by NY-based galleries cram booths with gaudy saturated palettes, pop imagery, and shiny finishes, Solomon seems right at home on her own turf. As a practicing artist, educator, advocate and collector, Solomon views her gallery as an incubator for dynamic artists who are in the process of establishing their voices. Solomon’s genuine, trained eye seamlessly integrates male and female, national and international, emerging and even established artists all within one cohesive environment. Solomon deftly utilizes color as a unitifing factor as the great equalizer, incorporating a variety of perspectives and striking a balance between artwork, race, and gender. In a gallery world held increasingly more accountable for inclusion, striking a balance between artwork, race, and gender can be a contrived quota – not so at Solomon, who offers what I can only describe as pop sincerity and vibrant, celebratory diversity exuded through a balance of color and form.

Pulse PLAY installation view, courtesy Project for Empty Space

Pulse Play Project For Empty Space The Beauty of Violence

The Project for Empty Space (PES) activates their booth with Pulse Play, screening of video-based work showcasing the perspective five artists from various parts of the world who address the theme, “A Violence”. By relying upon an open call system, Project for Empty Space founders Jasmine Wahi and Rebecca Jampol democratize an artist’s chance at showing work during one of the highest profile art events of the year: Pulse Art Fair. By boldly representing video-based work within an art fair dominated by objects, PES upholds their mission to produce instances of social engagement, education, and dialogue through art in order to encourage systemic change and cultural tolerance.

This collection of videos include striking surreal images along with audio cues that reveal how universal the impact of violence is. “So much beauty is born from so much devastating pain. What was particularly important for us in this project was to exemplify a span of subjects that ranged from the personal to the public; it was significant to choose voices that engage in nuanced and complicated understandings of systemic violence and the fallout that comes with it,” noted PES co-directors Wahi and Jampol. Pulse Play offers viewers a moment of philosophical reflection through the storytelling of video and serves as an unexpected humanitarian respite from the fair frenzy.

Ann Lewis, One in Five image courtesy the artist

 

ANN LEWIS One in Five

From afar, Ann Lewis’s booth looks like a minimalist contemplation of space and light immediately conjuring references to the lineage artists such as Eva Hesse and Ruth Asawa. Get a little closer and the hanging garments reveal themselves to be underwear: twenty pieces of underwear, in total. A sharp pang of revulsion floods the body as one can’t help but notice a considerable number of the undergarments are soiled, stained, and ripped. This visceral reaction, a moment of disgust, is something Lewis employs in her work as a means of addressing the topic of rape culture in America. “I created this work during the Brock Turner hearings back in 2016,” Lewis explains. She goes on to explain that the title One in Five directly references a statistic published by the CDC that one in five women will experience sexual abuse in their lifetime. “I base many of my works on accessible data as to give the viewer unencumbered access to the facts of these issues through visual representations.” As a multi-disciplinary artist and activist, Lewis focuses on creating work in public spaces in order to address American identity, power structures, and social justice. Lewis’s work is visually and emotionally striking, yet pensive and refined standing as a powerful statement within the fast paced commercially driven environment.

Knot Expected: Elevating the Everyday with artist Windy Chien image courtesy Sunbrella

Knot Expected: Elevating the Every Day The Odd Couple

The pairing of artist Windy Chien and Sunbrella, an outdoor textile manufacturer, seems like a relatively unlikely duo to find  at Pulse. However this unexpected collaboration offered something that most highbrow commercial booths overlook: the importance of the human touch. For Chien, this is just the latest in a series of collaborative outlets that allow her to express her creative impulses. After stepping away from an executive position at Apple, Chien submerged herself in the ancient, nautical craft of knot making – learning a different knot each day for one year. Her  intense level of intrigue and dedication to a medium which is often only valued for its functionality caught the PR eye of Sunbrella. Large canvas bags containing small bundles of cords in neutral earth tones were positioned in the middle of the booth amidst an installation of various knot types the artist had created. “Would you like to tie a knot?” a Sunbrella representative asked, coaxing my curiosity with an invitation to touch. Within the setting of the art fair, a place that commercially epitomizes the artistic hand the intimacy of touch and the ability to encounter a material is a rare and meaningful experience. Chien’s desire to elevate the mundane knot and share the joy of textiles allowed for a less conceptual and more intimate moment of interaction and storytelling to take place in the most unlikeliest of settings.

Raise Your Voice: In Praise of Artist Shoshanna Weinberger

“If you deny people their own voice, you’ll have no idea who they were.” Alice Walker

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“Excluded Included” 2017-2018 Mixed Media on Panel (Shoshanna Weinberger)

“invisible fruit: stories of camouflage from the periphery”, Shoshanna Weinberger’s solo exhibition at Project for Empty Space in Newark, NJ, employs repetition to dizzying effect. Perhaps not dizzying: mesmerizing.

Women’s bodies are both seen and unseen, presented and contorted into unidentifiable abstractions. Feminine visages, their outlines incorporating distinctly African and Afro-Carribbean hairstyles, are obscured by abstracted nothingness: their identities crushed beneath the weight of visual white noise. Similar to the background choir figures throughout Childish Gambino’s visceral and poignant music video for “This is America”, the multi-dimensional figures presented throughout Weinberger’s exhibition literally outline the trenchant visual narrative of hiding in plain sight. Even in the era of the #metoo movement, women are often excluded: their voices negated in everything from polite conversation to exorbitant wait times for major retrospectives. However, women of color fight an uphill battle not only against patriarchal discrimination but sometimes, even, from their own female allies. Weinberger’s presentations of the female body, ethnic even in their abstracted and distilled outline, elevates the Afro-Carribbean experience even while commenting on the objectification keenly experienced by women of color, in the arts as well as in everyday life.

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“A Grove of Invisible Fruit”, Shoshanna Weinberger, 2018 Two Sided Mirrored Acrylic.

Weinberger’s installation “A Grove of Invisible Fruit”, situated at the front of the gallery space, provides a hyper-dimensional yet fragmented entry point firmly rooting the artist’s overall exhibition. The “grove” can be viewed as a reflective and dizzying moment of pause – a blinding distraction, yet an inviting and meditative moment of respite anchoring the multiple viewpoints orienting visitors throughout the exhibition. The figures interspersed through “A Grove of Invisible Fruit” are hybrid beings: neither distinctly human nor wholly “other”, creole-ized and hypersexualized figures in high heels supporting a mirrored superstructure. The dual presence and absence of these figures, the lack of distinctive identity, could conceivably be contrasted with the experiences of women migrating to America. How dizzying is the burden of bearing others’ prejudice and preconceived notions? Much like the entrenched stereotypes hearkening back to the age of Chiquita Banana, these conceptions have neither disappeared nor evaded us as we continue to evolve as a society. Weinberger adoitly places these figures within a networked construct: joined together yet alienated, the figures reflect back only what we cast at them. They present to us Plato’s shadows on the walls of the cave.

“The colonized is elevated above his jungle status in proportion to [his] adoption of the adoption of the mother country’s cultural standards.” Frantz Fanon’s words in Black Skin, White Masks permeate the pores, the very follicles present in Weinberger’s works. In the artist’s series, “Invisible Invisibility”, she presents monochrome women who are identified by their cosmetics or sexualized poses, often obscured by the backgrounds which seem to “fill” them. Weinberger is presenting women difficult to categorize by societal “norms”: their very outlines prevent them ascending to the reified realm of acceptable “cultural standards.”

Fanon’s words echo throughout the exhibit, where literal “masks” create an entry point for viewers to both engage with these portraits and be denied access to the personal qualities typically found in portraiture. Voices are silenced and features hidden, marking both the uniformity of lived experiences of women of color and a refusal to be sequestered into stereotyped ethnic categories. The artist, herself American, Jewish and Jamaican by heritage, has both denied and overcome identity from “the other” in her figurative works. The portraits themselves seem to emerge from an obfuscation they willingly present to the viewer: by placing a barrier between themselves and the casual observer Weinberger’s creations upend expectations and deny the ubiquitous male gaze.

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L–>R, “Rhiannon”, 2017-2018 Mixed Media on Panel and “Emerging from the Periphery Like Mona Lisa”, 2018 Mixed Media on Panel, both by Shoshanna Weinberger

Weinberger’s exhibition as a whole mines the loaded metrics of repetition and representation. Presenting different variations on repeated themes allows the viewer multiple angles of entry into the series of artworks on view. The series of images in grids, according to Weinberger, represents yearbook photos – indicating variations on the artist’s own American, Jewish and Jamaican identity. The artist is presenting these autobiographical two-dimensional works on paper, presented alongside more sculptural works, literally examine themes present in the artist’s work from multiple angles. The visceral yet limited color scheme creates heightened awareness of the forms in the artist’s compositions. The artworks are tightly framed, implicating the viewer in almost claustrophobic nearness to the figures in the works they encounter. This irony of silenced narratives is reinforced by the presence of one single feature on the faces of the women in the artist’s portrait series: their mouths. Eyes, ears, and noses are left absent: women are expected to observe in real life; here, they are liberated and confined. They can only speak. Evoking the powerful moment of applying lipstick, a visible acceptance of womanhood, these lips are not only ready and able to speak but they are empowered to do so with grace and beauty.

Weinberger tumbles and leaps through a perceptive circus ring of contradictions in “invisible fruit: stories of camouflage from the periphery”. She produces one of the best nuanced exhibitions of Pop-infused, graphic style imagery in recent memory. While Pop art can be inherently subversive, Weinberger has managed to tease out intricacies of race, ethnicity and identity that are so often overlooked in contemporary art. Her dedicated exploration of individuality and marginalization has shown its splendor in this solo show at Project for Empty Space.

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L–>R: “The Queen of Fruit Walks Hi-Heeled in the Concrete Jungle: Invisible to Some and Obvious to Others”, 2018, Ink on Paper; “Some Fruit Have Legs”, 2018, Ink on paper (far wall); “The Camouflage Gang: Girls, Sisters and Otherness Passing” 2017-2018 (grid) works from the series “Invisible Invisibility” by Shoshanna Weinberger

In a space in the rear of the gallery, the artist points to a sculpture bust, indicating that it is a self-portrait created through the process of 3-D printing. Curled tendrils of hair hug the figures’s face, a cluster of evocative lips the only evident feature. The porcelain-colored whiteness of the bust shimmered in the direct light, giving the visage a sensual luster. Weinberger deftly re-imagines her identity as a literal fabrication, not just of social norms, but of the replicating process inherent to 3-D printing. Her vision of the portrait serves not as an admission, but instead can be perceived as a denial. This playful figuration is a credit to her finely tuned artistic sensibility and a deeper revelation of the ever-evolving social constructs of gender and ethnic identity.

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“A Rapid Prototype of My Doppelgänger”, 2018 3D Print Polymer, Paint, Wood; Shoshanna Weinberger

 

“invisible fruit: stories of camouflage from the periphery” is currently on view at Project for Empty Space, 2 Gateway Center in Newark, NJ, through May 18th. Shoshanna Weinberger is a currently resident at Project for Empty Space.

Susie IRL Exhibition @HERE: In Conversation with Susie Mag Founder Olivia Huffman

IT is rare indeed to chance upon that hybrid artist/activist/community organizer: that gem of a person who not only successfully runs their own practice, developing thgeir work as a formidable artist, but also finds time to initiate and organize community meetings and projects on the side, supporting scores of other creative types on the up-and-up in the process. Olivia Huffman is a gem: one of this singular breed of dexterous creative folk.

An artist working across mixed media, performance and new media, Huffman has spearheaded efforts to increase visibility and opportunities for marginalized artists.  In this vein they have led the creation of artist community Art Folx Nation, an intersectional feminist collective engaging with non-binary / women-identifying artists. In addition, they are a co-founder of Susie Mag, presenting cutting-edge interdisciplinary artworks with an eye toward gender equality in the arts.

Susie Mag has partnered with HERE, an arts center in Lower Manhattan, for the exhibition Susie IRL featuring mixed media works created by participating artists from the Susie Mag family. The exhibition, which is free to the public, is on view Jan 25 – Mar 28 with a public opening/artist’s reception on Thursday, February 22nd from 5-7 pm.

We sat down with Huffman to discuss their process as an artist in-depth and to hear more about how their works come to fruition.

AM. Thanks for speaking with us today, Olivia. I’d like to start with themes latent throughout your practice. Your work often incorporates references to the body, though most of your practice isn’t figurative per se. Can you explain why your work incorporates what you refer to as “remains” of the body and mind vis-a-vis “found material” and how this feature is crucial to your practice as a whole?

OH. I collect debris from everyday life. These items share a story about daily rituals, preferences, and aesthetics. To me, referencing the body without figurative elements enables the viewer’s imagination, linking their memories with mine. I use found materials because everyone has a memory tied to a color, texture, or scent. These slight signals trigger subconscious imagery that can connect the viewer to my work on a more personal level. My work focuses on the mystery and varying paths of personal development and growth, not the outward appearance of a person. I have used the figure in the past, but it was always very minimal and abstract.

AM. The artwork you create has a potent sense of materiality tied specifically the lived history embedded within that material. Can you talk about how the lived histories of material are important within the context of individual artworks you create?

OH. In my current series, Domesticity, each piece represents a different facet of household duties.

“Mystic” references gardening and interior decorating. The materials used are embossed wallpaper, a plastic bag handle, and sliced bark adhered to drywall. I collected the wallpaper from my first roommate in New York and I found the bark with one of my dear friends when we went on a road trip to Mystic, Connecticut.

“Consent” references sexual duties of the household. There comes in an entitlement over a woman’s body once they are wed, it wasn’t that long ago that raping your wife was legal. The piece consists of fishnet stockings, silver tacks, and clear buttons on drywall. The buttons fill up the fishnet stockings creating sags and lumps to mimic flesh.

“Dedication” references office work and the surmounting to-do tasks in home/work life. Each post-it note consists of tasks that are coded with shorthand text that without context are nonsensical. This work includes a gratuitous amount of notes, a lock of hair, and faux wood contact paper on drywall.

“Dedication” 2016,  Mixed Media

 

AM. In this series [Domesticity], industrial objects and materials are used to create relatively small works. Can you talk about scale and size in relation to this series, and about how you approach a sense of balance when incorporating disparate elements (tree bark,fabric, fishnets, etc) juxtaposed within these works?

OH. I draw a lot from the minimal abstract movement is the 60’s— inspired greatly by Louise Bourgeois, Sol LeWitt, Eva Hesse, and Agnes Martin. All of these creatives had specific guidelines pertaining to their material uses and size. Agnes Martin worked in multiples of threes, as do I. In Domesticity I decided to work in small formats, on drywall, and only use three materials (outside of adhesive).

AM. You’ve lived and worked in New York, NY and Las Vegas, NV, where you are from originally. How have these different locations impacted your work? Has your work evolved or new concepts been introduced in your migration east?

OH. Las Vegas is one hell of a city. There is so much going on but you can easily slip into your own bubble (similar to NYC). There are so many great and valuable artists in my hometown who inspire me daily while out here in New York. I think when I lived in Las Vegas I was driven more by my emotions, the industry when I was out there was motivated purely by sexualizing women. Many of my jobs treated me very differently than cis men (wear skirts, make-up, act bubbly). In New York people are more raw: we all know what a pain in the ass it is to get from one place to another, do grocery shopping, or wash your clothes.

I think when I moved here I started working in a way that was more coded — smarter, if you will. My commute to work was roughly an hour each way for three years of my life, which is a lot of time. I used this to analyze my materials, my thoughts about constructing a piece, and deciphered ways to communicate angst, love, or habits in a non-literal form.

I still talk about gender constructs, but I’m less angry and transparent. My connection to feminism has evolved, I came out as Non-Binary while making this series which revealed Domesticity is about deconstructing the confinement of womanhood. I use materials from the home, sometimes my cat even helps me shred fabrics. Although the topics of each piece may not be peaceful, while I am making work it’s about building stability, safety, and love within myself. In Las Vegas, my work more stemmed from anger, resentment, and confusion. There was some love, but I was a very self-destructive being in my late teens and early twenties.

“Mystic” 2017, Mixed Media

 

AM. In addition to your 2- and 3-D works you’ve also created performance works, such as Subconscious: The Weapon of Choice. In what ways do you approach performance and sound works the same as your physical artworks and what conceptual overlap do you find between these practices?

OH. Being diagnosed bipolar at 13, I have always worked with psychological elements. There are so many ideas, motives, or actions that happen within ourselves that we aren’t readily privy too. “Subconscious: The Weapon of Choice” explored the three levels of the human psyche; The Physical Self (audience/voyeurs), The Subconscious (attendees who join the performance), and The Imagined Self (performed by me). The performance ended up being a banishment of the ill will that I held against myself and others. I worked in near silence, with little movement, as a helpless confused person that was led into the light of self-acceptance. Towards the end of the performance, a participant cleaned off my nude body and held me in their arms like a newborn. There were participants that whispered encouraging sentiments and really proved to me that I am worth love in a moment in time that I had felt the most unloved in my entire life. But until that performance and those moments, I had no idea that these things were happening inside of me.

In the sound piece, Bedwomb, that I constructed with my partner’s music project, warmcanopy, we wanted to highlight the ignored sounds of the bedroom. In it you’ll hear a cat purring, change being dropped in a piggy bank, coughing, the sound of putting things away. We set aside a time to record ourselves cleaning our room, another domestic task, and submitted it to Yasmina Chavez‘s project, The Helen Keller Experience.

All of my work is cathartic and relates to personal growth and experiences.

Consent
“Consent” 2015, Mixed Media

AM. As Founder of Susie Magazine you’ve put an emphasis on creating a platform for cis women, trans, and non-binary voices. What aspects of Susie do you find particularly exciting, and what does the zine have to share with the world that other mags or outlets just aren’t providing?

OH. Our zine formed in a secret Facebook group. We wanted to curate a platform to highlight and empower voices that aren’t regularly featured in mainstream outlets and turn the focus to the everyday person. Susie strives to be inclusive in print and at events. We are very conscious of curating with a balance of people from many different socio-economic backgrounds and creeds. Our first Issue themed P O W E R, was when Hillary Clinton was running and we were high off of having a non-cis man as a presidential candidate. There is a piece by Tanika Goudeau Hochhauser titled “Today I Vote”, that we placed as the first editorial piece because it pointedly and poetically outlines our country’s history of systemic oppression.  It was interesting to see how the context of the piece changed, as we finished the layout of before the election was finalized.

Our most recent issue, B U I L D, had a very different vibe. It was post-presidential election. It’s after many of us in marginalized communities cried out, some in disbelief and some affirmed of how racist and misogynistic our country still is. This issue is all about building yourself back up. There are stories of heartache, suicide, loving your mother, learning to love yourself, loss of a grandfather, and silly moments of “What are hands for?”

I personally think it is invaluable to have all of these voices and artworks featured under one binding! You giggle, cry, and get a cute playlist to dance around in front of the mirror to. Visitors can check us out at our online shop and on our Instagram.

AM. You’re also a Founder of Art Folx Nation. Can you speak a bit about the aims of that collective as a whole and your progress so far?

OH. Art Folx Nation began in 2014 and was originally titled Lady Art NYC. The group’s focus is to bring together a bunch of non-cis men creatives in an online space so we could share events, ask art questions, and support each other. The group itself is only for cis women, trans, and non-binary people, but our events are gender-expansive. I wanted to cultivate a space free of objectification that thrived on being supportive and safe. When I moved to New York I went to a lot of events thinking I would meet like-minded people, but every time I went to these events people had a buddy or weren’t necessarily open to making a new friend. I was in the big secret feminist Facebook group and realized that we were getting to know details about each other and building really dependable long-term bonds online without having met IRL. I figured that would work just as well in an art-focused space, and it has!

Currently, we have online chapters titled by region; Art Folx NYC, Art Folx Mid West, Art Folx South West,  Art Folx Pacific North West,  Art Folx LA, and Art Folx South East. The idea is that no matter where you move you can join one of these groups and have a supportive environment, know about events happening in your region, and (hopefully) make some friends!

-1 Below: A Look at Culture in the Outer Boros & NY Metro Area, Jan 29 to Feb 2, 2018

There are countless gallery guides exploring the cultural events happening throughout NYC, but how many can you find within walking distance or bus ride of your nest? How many events happen right down the street that you could swing by after a nice dinner with a friend? Why does every single blog profile seem to profile events happening in the art areas of Chelsea and the Lower East Side?

With these thoughts in mind, here at -1 Below we take a look at cultural events happening around New York City, minus one boro: Manhattan.

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Below we consider upcoming cultural highlights with five not-to-miss events from Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and the Bronx… with some cultural events to entice guests willing to venture farther afield.

Artwork by Katherine Toukhy, PES Grab back artist-in-residence
Artwork by Katherine Toukhy, PES Grab back artist-in-residence (Project for Empty Space, Newark, NJ)
  1. “Night Regulation” Radiator Gallery, 10-61 Jackson Ave, Long Island City feat. artists Loren Britton, Maria Dimanshtein, Nicholas Fraser, JF Lynch and Andrew Prayzner – curated by Patrick Neal. An exhibition touching on the fraught and complex relationship between conceptual and formal elements present in contemporary art. Opening: Feb 2nd from 6-9 pm  
  2. “Incision: Feminist in Residence” Project for Empty Space, 2 Gateway Center, Newark, NJ  (across from Penn station skybridge) feat. artists Chaya Babu, Christen Clifford, Camille Lee and Katherine Toukhy. Profoundly feminist, this exhibition explores the personal and political presence of being a woman artist in a complex, hierarchical art world pantheon.  Opening: Jan 31st from 6-8 pm.
  3. Know Your Mushrooms: Mycology 101” Earth Arts Center, 936 Madison Street, Brooklyn, NY for artists with a taste for the wilder side of nature, this class, led by expert agriculturalist and PDC practitioner Oliver Bolotin, covers key points outlined by Paul Stamets in the tome “Mycelium Running”. This class will cover wild mushrooms as well as growing your own fungi colony at home. Event takes place Sat, Feb 3rd: doors open at 8 pm with discussion beginning at 8:30. 
  4. “Reenactment” gallery talk, BRIC (The Stoop @ BRIC Arts) 647 Fulton Street, Brooklyn, NY. Coffee + Conversation discussing current BRIC exhibition “Reenactment” with curator Jenny Gerow and exhibiting artists Maria Hupfield and Farideh Sakhaeifer on how certain histories are privileged, stifled, and/or eventually re-examined. The exhibition features artworks by Ken Gonzalez-Day, Crystal Z. Campbell, Alicia Grullon (pictured in cover image), Hupfield, Sakhaeifer, and Marisa Williamson. Feb 3rd from 12-1 pm.  
  5. “Coming to America” Free Screening @Brooklyn Bazaar, 150 Greenpoint Ave, Brooklyn, NY. A light-hearted look at America (specifically, Jamaica Queens) through the eyes of a visitor from our current administration’s so-monikered “shithole countries”, come laugh off our current xenophobia with Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall’s devastatingly witty performance, with turns by the commanding James Earl Jones and Madge Sinclair in the classic 1988 film directed by John Landis.  No RSVP required, seating first come first serve. Jan 31st from 8-11 pm. 
mush
“Know Your Mushrooms: Mycology 101” Earth Arts Center