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Pebble Drinkers

February 20 – March 28, 2015
Opening Reception February 20, 7 – 10pm
Gallery Aferro, Main Gallery

As artists, we choose a voice that is not necessarily lingual but nonetheless navigates narrative terrain. We are both collectors of experiences and storytellers making compositions based on the reflection of those experiences. We are a community that supports one another in our pursuits as mythmakers, anecdote entrepreneurs, role players, biographers, documentarians, and myriad other roles.

Demosthenes, the Greek orator, was said to practice his enunciation with pebbles in his mouth. In order to fully narrate we, perhaps, must drink our pebbles. Given this theme, we propose an exhibition of narrative artists called “Pebble Drinkers.” Each artist playfully explores and reshapes traditional narrative, allowing for shifting perspectives and altered viewings. Pebble Drinkers is a group exhibition consisting of mixed media, painting, and sculpture.

Rachelle Beaudoin uses performance, video, and wearable objects to interweave narratives from icons of female sexuality, creating an uncertain and discomforting new space. She uses humor and sarcasm as an entry point into issues of gender, power, and class. Appropriating and subverting stereotypes gives her characters, who at first glance appear superficial, depth and space. She is currently investigating the conflation of “hotness” and empowerment through pieces that focus on physical fitness and beauty.

Brittany De Nigris builds ephemeral narratives through sculptures, video, and performance with what she refers to as an “immediate landscape.” In this space, place is not just a backdrop but rather inspiration, form, prop, and participant. Natural elements intervene to activate man made materials and it is this conversation that becomes a portal for the transmission of ideas. Her work often springs from minute observations that become focal points for larger meaning, emphasizing the impermanence and continuation of all things. Place is material.

Corwin Levi makes mixed media work that resembles maps, charts, or texts. There are recognizable moments interwoven throughout the pieces that imply a narrative scheme. As viewers look and read through these moments, though, they start to realize that the pieces do not explain in diagrammatic fashion but are Gordian knots, impossible to unravel. For the viewer, it’s a tight, concentrated, intense study. The eye never rests, looking, reading, looking, reading, in an endless cycle. There is no way out, only in, over, through, and back in again.

A.V. Ryan’s sculptures use the form and properties of rubber inner tubes to create sequences of abstract forms. Using varying degrees of inflation and deflation as well as folding, binding or propping, she explores the moods and postures of the form – the torus – within a single material manifestation – rubber. Lightness and heaviness, lift and fall, a play of folds suggest the fleeting presence of the body while her treatment of the surface brings out a range of reflective and tactile qualities that suggest skin. Narrative here is silent and implicit.

Piper Grosswendt makes artful, abstract compositions playing through a language of color, shape, and visual perception. The compositions are so striking that it is a secondary reaction to focus on the reality that the paintings are on second-hand linens rather than stretched canvases. The traditional myths surrounding abstraction are uprooted, as are our perception of the value of our discarded bed sheets, as we look at both the paintings and the narratives behind both art history and the history of the linens themselves.

Becca Kallem works with cloth and fabrics as well, drawing what appear to be beautiful fabric still lifes. The drawings, though, are not still lifes but rather draperies copied from old master narrative paintings–without the rest of the painting to provide context. In addition to cloth imagery, she excerpts and repositions other elements of masterworks to create new, personal narratives about identity, perception, and communication.

Jesse Harrod uses gaudy, industrial chintz fabric in her work. The materials she works with contain poorly rendered images such as flowers printed on cheap cloth. She thinks of the motifs as alive with a narrative history. She explores gender, home, colonialism, industry, insincerity, surface and the need to be something you are not through sexuality and growth. She asks: how do domestically designed, foreign produced fabrics relate to today’s industrial and post-colonial global diaspora? How might recurring enlarged images of childish flowers conjure messages related to sexuality and class? She finds answers in the layered history of cloth itself: a scrap of fabric produces a story of colonial, gendered, and class-based oppression. Simultaneously, she makes work investigating how a “hobbyist” or “bad taste” aesthetic may relate to queer identity, as well as to second and third wave feminist thought.

Greg Stewart finds inspiration from “out of place” things in the world because of their potential to create new possibilities and generate reflective thinking. He refers to these things as “acts of mobility,” a spark that drives our limitless imaginations. The presence of mobility in language is driven by our use of narrative to create imaginary circumstances and events. The impetus for Stewart’s projects stems from his interest in human geography: the study of how we situate or arrange ourselves in the world. His work imagines a reality constructed out of a necessity to move from place to place. Most recently, he built small mobile shelters equipped with portions of a library, a cooking station, vegetable gardens, fruit trees growing on roof tops, and an outhouse.

Stephanie Williams is a tinkerer and doodler whose work navigates autobiographical narratives related to memory and misconception derived from the many facets of identity. She tells this story by examining these facets individually over its whole. Through self-directed processes influenced by close examination and disassembly of sensorial fragments, she curates a context governed by our bodies’ amalgamated experience. Her work does not necessarily rely upon a catalogue to sort these pieces but instead examines a human need to identify. Through this “portraiture”, she improvises installations and characters that meld together sewn pieces that reference body topography, supported by precarious stilts, armature, and simple mechanisms that when reoriented, do not quite fit back together as neatly nor predictably. The work suggests an insular nature, providing context in which a collection of fragments parallels our understanding of the world.


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ACTIVATE: Market Street 5

February 20 – May 2, 2015
Opening Reception February 20, 7 – 10pm
Storefront Windows on Market Street

Sunil Garg A Comfortable Illusion of Order @ 75 Market Street

The installation was created for its location, a former furniture store display window in Newark, NJ. It evokes planar forms of pieces of furniture in a seemingly chaotic state illuminated at night by a program of lights.

Garg’s work uses accessible materials such as, paper, wire mesh, expandable foam, discarded plastic bags, and packaging, to create forms that interrogate and respond to the conditions of the environment they are placed in. His work is intended to adapt to its environment and change depending on environmental and visual points of view and also challenge viewers’ preconceptions and biases.

Robert Lach A Forest @ 77 Market street

Nesting is both a joyous time for birth, comfort and rest, and a fight for survival from the elements of the natural world. Nature provides beauty and tranquility but also potential danger and destruction. It can be a nightmare.

Lach builds nests and nest-like structures based on the architecture of birds, animals, and insects. Viscerally attracted by their nostalgia, ware, and uselessness, Robert mimics their design, form and structure patterns using locally gathered objects, trash, and recycled materials.

Josama @ 85 Market Street, Curated by Jo-El Lopez

Throughout Josama’s travels, he became largely influenced by Hip-Hop culture, primarily graffiti art and MCing. It was during the “die hard” era of New York’s graffiti scene where ten year-old Josama would lay his foundation as a visual artist. Within one year, Josama was keeping black books full of designs to be used for murals. Due to the near extinction of the graffiti train culture, Josama took a back seat to the declining art form and transcended his passion for the visual arts through oil painting. Josama immersed himself with his newfound love and began studying the works of various Renaissance masters, Mexican muralists and contemporary paintings.

The combination of Josama’s vagabond lifestyle, artistic upbringing and devotion for hip-hop culture, are the factors responsible for his unique artistic expression. Josama’s work can be defined as a living dreamscape that cross-pollinates historical moments with pop-culture iconography and everyday street life. Infusing elements of symbology, psychology and spirituality, Josama’s pieces are engaging and evoke a thought provoking analysis of the imagery conveyed.


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Heather Johnson

Selected works by Kayla Carucci and Evonne Davis

February 20th – May 23rd @ =Space
Maxblau Building, 89 Market Street, 4th Floor, Newark, NJ

Johnson grew up moving from place to place. Dramatic cultural transitions defined each move: Hawaii to suburban Chicago; Rio Grande du Sol, Brazil to Heber City, Utah; Woking, Surrey, England to Houston, Texas. This process, along with an entrenched fondness for motorcycles and long road trips, has inspired her investigation of rootlessness, of moving through space without connecting to it. Heather’s work examines spaces from the perspective of an outsider looking in, positioning the viewer to gaze intimately at things that are temporary, generally ignored, or distorted by memory.

Employing a range of media, Johnson’s work reenacts the act of searching, of hunting for clues from the past to build new connections to the present. Drawing on source material such as maps, engineering schematics, official documents, newspaper articles, internet ephemera, and the personal stories of friends and strangers, Heather often uses labor-intensive processes to render richly layered images of things often forgotten or taken for granted. Johnson looks for relationships between different types of experiences, searching for evidence in the landscape of patterns and cycles that reveal our own fragile natures, as humans, in relation to it. It is her hope that the work inspires questions about where we are, physically and psychologically, in relation to what surrounds us.

Born in 1969 in Wahiawa, Hawaii, Heather Johnson has shown her work in galleries, museums and in the public realm throughout the United States, in Europe, Japan and Mexico. In 2001, she earned a Master of Fine Arts degree from California College of the Arts in San Francisco, and has completed residencies at McColl Center for Visual Art in Charlotte, North Carolina, Winthrop University in South Carolina and BoxoHOUSE in Joshua Tree, CA. Johnson has curated several exhibitions and collaborative projects, including Cracks in the Pavement: Gifts in the Urban Landscape, involving artists from around the world, Love Letter, a collection of collaborative site-specific works presented in New York and Paris, and most recently, In Search of the Frightening and Beautiful, a project-in-progress of landscape interventions around the United States and Mexico. Johnson lives a nomadic life aboard her Yamaha 250XT.