Every corner of the mammoth Icebox Gallery in the Crane Arts Center is activated with visual signs, symbols and sensory stimuli. Last January curator Amie Potsic sent a call for ideas to the Fellows of The Center for Emerging Visual Artists for the huge art space in Fishtown. Site specific works were encouraged, developed and confirmed by April and last week all the pieces fell into place and Construct, an invigorating, unique, studied look at contemporary art and how assemblage, construction and collage is integral to the new way of seeing. The photo above looks so Rauschenberg but it’s mash-up of two large installations, one a trippy multiple collage by Jennifer Williams applied directly on the walls and a large assemblage by Don Edler that sprawls across the concrete floor like a drift of entrancing debris.
Mami Kato in coming to the end of a long relationship with the special Japanese grass she uses to create the sinuous sculptures which take years to make to a new direction using resin for the bio-morphic sculpture in the foreground. Her work looks so beautiful in the Gray Area, tying up the space in a confounding knot of dense yet floaty tubules.
Laureen Griffin plays with styles, textures, composition and sexual role models – huh? DoN overheard a comment, “What’s that girl doing in the chair?” The girl is dressed quite masculine, like a business woman, reading a paper, a strong contemporary image of a black woman set against the grain of an antebellum manor. Intensely conflicting narratives zipped through DoN‘s neural network from stories embedded in the fabric, visual cues in the styling and strangely involving decor. Gorgeous!
Kimberly Witham was concerned for a moment that the photographs that are so huge in her studio would seem dwarfed by the scale of Icebox, but arrayed salon style, the still life photographs using dead animals, wallpaper and found objects read perfectly well. The beautifully rendered still life photographs are so bitter sweet, we get to look at beautiful creatures living on after death in a work of art, an exquisite corpse of a different kind. Witham’s photographs drew a crowd of people who stood and stared a long time; the mixture of repulsion and fascination, ugly and beautiful, cheery and morbid strums a tender nerve. And the concept that raw steak is not just the color of cabbage roses but can be sexually Dali-nian is genius.
Alison Stigora, Whirlwind, charred wood, site specific installation. Like a charcoal drawing in space, Whirlwind is a feat of imagination swirling up like a tornado; Stigora and a friend hand-charred the wood, pulling logs from the fire and dousing them with water to preserve the scarred luminous iridescence of the wood for the construction. Alison wants all DoNsters to know she is not a pyromaniac, having a healthy fear of fire and does not play with matches. The imposing sculpture continues Stigora’s investigation into the fractal like forms of the natural world, especially trees and all that art owes to them.
Alison Stigora, Whirlwind, detail.
Lewis Colburn was seated atop a 15 foot wooden tower where he typed War and Peace by Tolstoy during a performance at the opening reception; Colburn typed out part of the book relating to a theory about history and calculus, a repetitive process which spilled a long stream of paper into a puddle on the floor. The Center for Emerging Visual Artists - Construct @ Crane Arts Center.
Maggie Mills has five paintings included in the exhibit, each artwork representing a bit of the anxiety she feels about the political and ecological environment her young daughter is growing up in. Mills’ paintings incorporate compressed narratives, coupled with coming of age incidents and rituals. In each of the paintings, young people are involved in a manner of play that involves constructions like kites but in a dream state haunted by angst, danger and fear for the future.
Artists exhibiting are: Noah Addis, Arden Bendler Browning, Lewis Colburn, Don Edler, Laureen Griffin, Jordan Griska, Ana B. Hernandez, Mami Kato, Allison Kaufman, Daniel Kornrumpf, Maggie Mills, Tim Portlock, Alison Stigora, Jennifer Williams, Kimberly Witham, and Bohyun Yoon.
Construct is on view through June 29th, a short run for such a big show but exhilarating in it’s scope, direction and audacity.
Photos by DoN.