Introducing the 2015 Fall SOLOS Artists
By Terra Warren, Arlington Arts Center’s Curatorial & Exhibitions Intern
At AAC, one of our primary goals is to bring contemporary, mid-Atlantic artists to Arlington and give them the space (physically and artistically) to create new work or realize an idea or concept that they’ve been brewing. Half the time we ask them for work that fits into a specific theme.
This summer, many of you experienced Play: Tinker, Tech, & Toy, in which artists created pieces that ranged from reflections of their childhoods to interactive fantasy worlds to issues of immigration disguised as maps.
Yet what can artists show us when their parameters are merely the walls of a gallery? The other half of the time, we ask them an open-ended question. And each year a group of 14 artists answers it in our semiannual SOLOS exhibition.
Assistant Curator at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Melissa Ho, and Chicago-based artist Jefferson Pinder, helped us select seven artists to create a set of solo exhibitions. Each distinct show runs concurrently with the other six, presenting a distinct snapshot of the work being done by contemporary artists in our region today.
Although SOLOS artists aren’t asked to fit a theme, their work will often depict similar ideas or concepts. For instance, artists Katie Duffy, Austin Shull, and Sonya Lawyer all approach the notion of identity, but from different angles and with a variety of methods. These three artists ask different questions through varying media, but they all seem to invite us to ask themselves (and us), Who am I?
Katie Duffy dissects gender an d notions of femininity within her exhibition. Her sculptures and projections morph multicolored bodies into something unrecognizable, questioning our construction of identity.
Austin Shull’s work also explores the manipulation of imagery in search of identity in his exhibition. His ode to the inventor of the teleidoscope shatters images of pop culture spread out over the walls of the Tiffany gallery.
He asks the viewer to observe images which once were familiar but, with a change of light, take on an entirely new form.
Patterns by Sonya Lawyer asks us to reexamine our self-image in the face of advertisements and contemporary standards of beauty through the medium of quilts, fashion, and performance art.
Benjamin Zellmer Bellas, Nara Park, Dean Kessmann, and Rachel Guardiola all employ a manner of abstraction in their practices to create an unfamiliar experience using familiar objects or imagery.
Benjamin Zellmer Bellas’ subtle structures entice you to take a second, third, and fourth look. The objects’ interactions with each other and the space around them create an inevitability of structure and emotion. Combining emotion with reason, the pieces speak to themselves in a way that is simultaneously complex and inescapable.
Nara Park’s work transports us to a time where the places we hold dear are nothing more than ruins, a reminder of what once was – and yet, while Park leads us into a future where we do not exist, we can almost feel the memories of ourselves suspended in the air. Simply because we leave does not mean we have left.
Dean Kessmann’s Utilitarian Abstraction explores the relationship humans have with everyday consumer packaging, and strikingly confronts our preconceptions of what is art and who makes it while drawing our attention to commercial images that our eyes have learned to ignore.
He does this by presenting synthesized images (like cereal box barcodes) as fine art. The machine-generated images are deconstructed by human hands and rediscovered by our eyes.
By constructing a fictional archaeological history, Rachel Guardiola examines the educational materials that sculpt our understanding of the past. Her exhibition investigates what happens when the parameters of an image include and exclude information, and how this informs our understanding of our surroundings.
These artists have ensured that our 2015 Fall SOLOS exhibition will be both personal and abstract, familiar and innovative, topical and eternal. A common thread binding these works is that all of the exhibitions are something you have never experienced.