Jo-El Lopez was born in Juncos, Puerto Rico and raised in Paterson, New Jersey. Lopez uses the visual storytelling of traditional realism to convey complex commentary on the intersection of faith and modernity, the strength of family, and the multidimensional contemporary urban experience. Gallery AFerro hosted Lopez’s first solo show, Speaking In Tongues, which focused on these top[ics in early 2016. The decades the artist spent under the Pentecostal doctrine, a bold color palette informed by both abstract painting as well as older traditions of icon-making, all meld to create Lopez’s kaleidoscopic worldview. The collection of artworks previously on view at Gallery Aferro from January 27 – March 12, 2016 reveal a restless, deeply engaged spirit closely observing not only his immediate environment, but the larger historic trajectory of national news.
Lopez asserts, “Originally, I studied business and fine arts at Kean University and at Montclair State University and was prepared for a life in the corporate arena. But my life’s journey has led me back to artmaking and my true passion. My work shows my voyage from that life choice to now.” In just four years since leaving the business world to focus on art, Lopez’s work has appeared regularly in tri-state area exhibtions at The Bronx Art Center, Gallery Aferro, The Center for Contemporary Art, New Jersey City State University Gallery, Rupert Raven Contemporary, and Jersey City’s City Hall.
Gallery Aferro’s 2nd Sustainable Arts Foundation Fellow
Caitlin Masley’s work focuses on built forms, ruins, monuments and topographies in their moments of change. This can be referred to as a “Topography Crux”, the point or moment where the installation, sculptures or wall drawings are embodied negotiations of geopolitical space. Each series of works are organized around an examination of materials from a specific place in a specific moment in history (such as cement and Brutalist architecture) and often a way for Masley to deconstruct a political situation, breach a physical boundary or conceptualize a topography. This examination of space and architectural situations stems from ideas of possibilities of forms suiting the needs of a changing landscape and its mobile population. Caitlin’s obsessive treatment of surface space hand-records all these landscapes, blocks, tunnels, passageways and uses the material textures that allows her to dig back into the organic matter of these topographies. This process often visually references Landsat imagery and historical satellite imagery with the use of cement and metallics deposits found in the earth and referencing the global economy. Inspiration also comes from a personal archive of images researched and culled from political media outlets, online archives and photos from abandoned cities and social structural projects around the world. The works collectively record the invisible history of where we go, where we live, how we create, erase and redraw borders and structures and where we call home.
Caitlin Masley holds a Masters of Fine Art from the University of Arizona and a Masters of Science in Design and Urban Ecology from Parsons/The New School. She is the recipient of several grants and fellowships, including an Emerging Artist Fellowship from the Socrates Sculpture Park, a Pollock-Krasner Fellowship, Barbara Deming Memorial Fund Grant, Puffin Foundation Grant and Foundation for Contemporary Art (emergency grant) and the LMCC Swing Space Grant and Residency among others. Masley has been an Artist-in-Residence in Austria, Germany, Quebec, Norway and Switzerland, as well as had work included in group exhibitions at MOMA/PS1, Center for Built Environment, Storefront for Art and Architecture and site-specific solo exhibitions and major projects include; Katonah Museum of Art, McColl Center for Contemporary Art, Islip Museum, Urban Institute of Contemporary Art, HVcc Foundation, Kingston Museum of Contemporary Art and the HDLU Museum in Zagreb, Croatia. Masley’s work is included in the Pfizer Corporate Collection, Benaki Museum Collection, Holt Renfrew Collection, Progressive Corporate Collection and many Private Collections. Masley’s work is featured in the book titled”The Artist as Culture Producer: Living and Sustaining a Creative Life,” edited by Sharon Louden to be published in 2017.
Alex Scott Cumming pursues intuitive imagery association to compose narratives of the subconscious. By accessing synchronicities, his work contains esoteric syntax; forms translated from space by the artist. These forms manifest within mnestic process, and develop into concepts of social evaluation and revolution. Finished pieces carry an accumulative resonance of process and concept. His medias include painting, collage, illustration, printmaking, photography, and various literary arts.
Alex Scott Cumming is exhibition designer and a working artist at Gallery Aferro. Beginning as a volunteer, his skills and background in installation and design were quickly trusted and utilized. Alex Scott studied interdisciplinary art at Montclair State. Shortly afterwards, he began working with Newark based, Oculus Art Collaborative, specializing in curation and project coordination. Their show in 2012’s Newark Open Doors, “Transformation” renovated the Kislak Building in Downtown Newark into multiple installation studios and a performance space. Alex’s practice includes painting, graphic design, photography, and writing. He has also worked in film production, printmaking, and music. Alex’s work focuses on psychological imagery, primitivism, and evolution.
Gallery Aferro’s 1st Sustainable Arts Fellow
Lisette Morel is the recipient of the Sustainable Arts Foundation Fellowship for Artists Who are Parents and is Gallery Aferro’s first official fellowship funded artist in residence.
The idea of repetition is a vehicle for creation and Lisette’s rhythmic gestural reiterations of motifs are utilized to open the viewer’s mind to oscillating states of consciousness, an invitation to encounter a gathering of clashing energies; blissful, ritualistic, and raw. With each marking and use of materials Lisette Morel tries to physically expose the complexities inherent in our (emotional) selves, our sense of identity and in the acceptance/awareness of the transience of life and moments.
Lisette Morel is a Dominican-American artist born in 1974 in Manhattan, NY. She is a recipient of the prestigious Joan Mitchell Foundation MFA Grant. Her work has been reviewed by The New York Times and The Star Ledger. Lisette has also exhibited at the Jersey City Museum and the African American Museum in Philadelphia, PA. Morel received her Masters in Fine Arts at the Tyler School of Art, Temple University and her Bachelor of Arts at Rutgers University.
Lizzy Storm’s artwork addresses space, light, and perception. Inspired by calculus and higher mathematics and how they are used in physics and other sciences, she delves into the mystery of the infinitely small and the infinitely large and comes to the surface with diagrammatic, illustrative works informed by the complexity of nature as well as minimal forms. She uses artistic conventions like atmospheric perspective, color theory, and tonal structure in combination with mathy visualizations like vector or streamline plots and three dimensional metric space to inspire visual thinking on abstract concepts.
Through her work, she can connect not only to experienced members of the science and technology communities, but to young thinkers who are also inspired by math and other STEM fields. Somewhere in the middle, countless thousands of “nonmath people” can still find a way to contemplate the beauty in the artwork.
Lizzy Storm is an emerging artist raised and currently residing in West Orange, NJ. A view of New York City’s skyline from the hills of her home town has left Lizzy with a constant reminder of the visual information involved in understanding deep space and spatial relationships. Studying illustration at Rhode Island School of Design, Lizzy honed her skills in visual communication. A well of inspiration was opened through her investigation of geometric perspective drawing in conjunction with landscape painting. The resulting work, both 2D and 3D, bridges a gap between the romanticism and realism of illustration and the abstract mathematics of geometry and physics. She has returned home to New Jersey to exhibit and work in the local arts community.
Wendy’s work stems initially from drawing and observation but ultimately she is in search of a narrative that is both personal and universal. Letven works in series that mark a preoccupation with the fusion of images from everyday life with the visualization of a more internal sense of the world. One medium suggests another, one image suggests the next. While this might imply a linear progression, themes recur, particularly those of a psychological, social nature. Our tenuous relationship to our environment and what it means to come of age at this particular point in time, are two themes that currently consume her.
Wendy Letven grew up in a family of artists in the Philadelphia area, so drawing and painting were second nature to her. Letven attended Washington University in St. Louis and Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia. After art school she moved to New York and received an MFA in painting from Hunter College. Letven lived there for over a decade before she moved to New Jersey in search of some trees and a slower-paced lifestyle in which she could devote more time to her work. In 2007 Letven began teaching art and design at Parsons, The New School of Design in New York. Through teaching she is able to share what she knows and to continue to evolve as a visual artist. Letven’s work involves a lot of experimentation with different mediums. She moves freely from painting and drawing to printmaking and collaging. Most Sunday mornings Letven collages directly into her sketchbook after reading the paper. In the last year Letven has begun to explore sequential narrative in the form of woodblock prints and rostoscope animation.
Emily Tumbleson is a New York-born photographer and a graduate of the Glasgow School of Art. Her home and family remains in the NYC/New Jersey area.
She came to the medium as a young adult after years of practicing and studying painting and drawing. Her interest in photography lies largely in its ability to interpret the artist’s situation and perspective within his or her immediate environment, and to act as an ambassador to the imaginative eye. It is filled with a curiosity in the act of looking around.
Outside the fine art realm, Emily was involved in documentation of preschool children around Newark, NJ, for the Head Start program, a project that she intends to adapt into a children’s book.
Emily’s photographic expertise has also extended toward commercial photography, with a background in school portraiture and, more currently, events and professional head shots.
Emily received her BFA in Fine Art Photography from Glasgow School of Art, Scotland, in 2013. She previously received a Bachelors of Arts in Studio Art Practice from Goucher College in Baltimore.
Sunil Garg apprenticed with established artists, sculptors and musicians from a young age. He is an experimental and experiential 3D, illumination and “new media” artist who lives and works in Summit, NJ. After earning a Ph.D., in Physical Chemistry, Sunil worked in industrial research developing new materials and fabrication processes for consumer, textile and electronic applications as well as in product development and marketing. He, subsequently, earned a J.D. in Law and practiced environmental, energy and natural resources law. He amalgamates his scientific and technical experiences, his involvement with political, environmental and waste management issues, and musical and art and performance experiences in his art work.
Sunil is a published author, and a recorded “avant-garde” jazz musician having performed with such musicians as Beaver Harris, Cecil McBee, Dave Burrell, Jimmy Garrison, Hammiett Blueitt, and others.
He has exhibited solo at Sridharani Gallery, New Delhi, India, and his numerous group exhibitions include, e.g., Sculpture Key West, Florida, Queens Museum, New York City, Grounds for Sculpture, Hamilton, NJ, the New Jersey Law Center, New Brunswick, NJ, Chelsea Highline Open Studios, NYC, National Academy Museum on Museum Mile in NYC, Art Factory, Paterson, NJ, Crossing Art Gallery, NYC, and the Akins Museum in Pawling, New York and solo installation of large scale “wire+light” 3D works on the grounds of Grand Summit Hotel, Summit, NJ
Writing and painting are close processes for me, coming in part from my background in writing, as well as an interest in the relationship between language and image. For over a decade, I have been making paintings and installation that synthesize an internal and external experience of place, connecting the topographical with the psychological.
Visually, the work pulls from conceptual art, comics, cartography and landscape painting and employs symbols of hard data- text, geologic forms, geographic borders, signs/markers, coastlines, tide schedules – to frame the soft data of the ephemeral, adapting a quantitative schema to the qualitative.
My interest in this type of work is personal: for three generations my family has moved from continent to continent due to political and religious persecution. This has fostered a deep curiosity into how story shapes a landscape, and its inverse, how landscape takes a mythic form in narrative.
Ms. Elsayed is the inaugural recipient of the 18-month Aferro Studio Residency for midcareer NJ-based artists. Her paintings, prints and artist books have been shown at galleries and art institutions throughout the United States and internationally, including exhibitions at the 12th Cairo Biennale, BravinLee Programs, Clementine Gallery and the Jersey City Museum. Her work is in the public collections of the US Department of State, Johnson & Johnson Corporation, The Jersey City Museum, Zimmerli Art Museum, Hunterdon Museum of Art, Noyes Museum of Art, Montclair Art Museum, Newark Public Library, New Jersey State Museum, and Morris Museum. A large number of her works were commissioned for the permanent collection of the Ritz Carlton Hotel in New York. Dahlia has received awards from the Edward Albee Foundation, Visual Studies Workshop, The Newark Museum, ArtsLink, The Dodge Foundation, Women’s Studio Workshop, Headlands Center for the Arts,The NJ State Council on the Arts and most recently a grant from The Joan Mitchell Foundation.
She received her MFA from Columbia University, and lives and works in New Jersey.
Poveda defines his style as “Experience Art”, in which he transforms gallery spaces into sensory environments. Infused with conceptual themes of his family’s adversities, being bicultural and his developmental experiences; his playful and imaginative nature serve as the foundation for his works. Poveda tackles contemporary psychosocial concepts. He deconstructs his subject matter and designs with aesthetic qualities that stimulate the senses. His creations are suggestive of the toys he once played with, however clearly demonstrating a preindustrial quality.
Luis Raul Poveda is a Latin American visual artist from New Jersey born on November 10, 1987. He received his B.F.A from Kean University where he studied Studio Art and Art History. Poveda’s works debuted during the National Arts Program Group Exhibition in 2012. His first solo exhibition was held at the Nancy Dryfoos Gallery on May 2014.
Adejoke Tugbiyele is a Nigerian-American sculptor and experimental video artist. She works in various mediums including wire, natural fibers, fabric, and wood. The themes in her work range from sexual identity and human rights to leadership and governance. Tugbiyele’s work has been exhibited and screened at reputable institutions both in the United States and internationally including the The Center for Contemporary Art in Lagos Nigeria, the Museum of Arts and Design, The Jewish Museum of New York, The Centre for Contemporary Art in Torun Poland, The Museum of Biblical Art, The James E. Lewis Museum of Art, The Reginald F. Lewis Museum, Spelman College Museum of Art and The United Nations Headquarters. She has also shown at Art Dubai 2014, the 6th Annual Joburg Art Fair in 2013, Johannesburg, South Africa and the 2014 video art fair, LOOP Barcelona, Spain and the Goethe Institute in Lagos, Nigeria. After studying and practicing as an architect, Tugbiyele went on to receive a Master of Fine Arts in Sculpture from Maryland Institute College of Art (2013). She is the recipient of several awards including the Fulbright U.S. Student Fellowship 2013-14, The Amalie Rothschild Award (2013) and the William M. Phillips Award for best figurative sculpture (2012) at Maryland Institute College of Art. She has appeared/published as an artist and queer activist on CNN international, The Feminist Wire and the Huffington Post. Her work has been featured in numerous publications including Metropolis M magazine in the Netherlands and Omenka Magazine in Lagos, Nigeria.
Tugbiyele is the recipient of several awards including the Fulbright U.S. Student Fellowship 2013-14, The Amalie Rothschild Award (2013) and the William M. Phillips Award for best figurative sculpture (2012) at Maryland Institute College of Art. She has appeared on CNN International as a queer artist/activist and has published in The Huffington Post, The Feminist Wire and Omenka Magazine. Tugbiyele received a Master of Fine Arts in Sculpture from Maryland Institute College of Art (2013) and is currently an Artist in Residence at Gallery Aferro. Her work, AFRIKEA (2009), has received mention by art critic Roberta Smith in the New York Times and now sits permanently in the contemporary African art collection of the Newark Museum.
Jermaine Clark is a photographer based in New Jersey. Building off momentum from an earlier, highly biographical project about Black masculinity, Clark plans to use his studio space to begin several new projects, one of which will consist of portraits of African-American women. The project will be presented as large scale prints with an accompanying musical compilation.
He writes: “Black women of all ages will be a part of this project. Many of these women will not be considered mainstream beauties.Their beauty is seen and appreciated by the community and the people that they have raised and nurtured. “
An additional project, RE-VIBE, mines imagery associated with Blaxplotation, the Black Panther Movement, Black Power, and the Age of Aquarius and will be output using an UV flocked poster style of printing. “With this collection I want to reconnect to the Black community’s revolutionary past…the images will feel larger than life and reflect my experience of history.”
My most recent body of work, After Kempf, is an exploration into lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender hate crimes. Using mixed media, such as ceramic, concrete, and found materials, I transform everyday objects that have been used as weapons in specific hate
crime cases. The project’s title references the psychiatrist who invented Gay Panic Defense as an explanation of this type of violence.
I studied over 50 LGBT hate crime cases from 1970 to 2010, and found that a link connecting this cross-section of cases is the weapon used. Similar to crimes of passion, these weapons are generally banal objects, such as a hammer, bat or can of tomatoes.
Rarely can these weapons be used at a distance, illustrating the intimacy of the act as blood and sweat merge in struggle.
I sculpt these artifacts, allowing scars from the making process to remain on their surface. Clay becomes skin as I press into the surface, leaving the trace of my hand and simultaneously representing the act of violence itself. Here the twisting, mutilation and ultimate undoing of the body is transferred to the objects. The disturbance of everyday objects calls into question the very system in which they exist.
Phoenix Lindsey-Hall is an international mixed media artist who earned a MFA in Photography from Parsons The New School of Design in 2012 and a BFA in Photography from Savannah College of Art in 2004. Lindsey-Hall has shown in various galleries in New York, NY, Philadelphia, PA, Louisville, KY, Savannah GA and in Pingyao, China. Her most recent body of work, After Kempf, is a photographic and sculptural exploration of violence, trauma and hate crimes based on regulating difference. In addition to being selected for the spring 2013 Gallery Aferro residency program, she has also been selected for the current Emerge Program with the Aljira Center for Contemporary Arts in Newark, NJ.
Planta will be creating multimedia works that begin with large –scale drawings range in size from 42 inches x 42 inches to 9 feet x 20 feet. She writes: “This mark making symbolizes both my visceral, emotive and aesthetic discoveries. I attempt to merge a traditionalist aesthetic along with a primal and simplistic approach to the figure. In this Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Kara Walker and William H. Johnson have inspired some of the visual aspects of my work . The writings of bell hooks, Carl Jung, Rudolf Arnheim and Joseph Campbell inform part of my conceptual process. The randomness of the papers’ torn edges is symbolic of my own imperfections”.
My work deals with the fragile state of objects, spaces, and individuals. All material is ephemeral– unstable in the weight of its meaning, easily changed by its environment and our relationship to it.
I am interested in the ways that people instill and extract “meaning” through ceremony, and in our tendency to honor routines. As an individual brought up in the West with an eastern background, I try to create a dialogue between the eastern and western elements that make up my life and often contradict and overlap each other. Ancient rituals get reinterpreted as a result of my diasporic perspective, and contemporary ones are explored in terms of their potentially primordial origins.
Ultimately ritual—whether religious or secular, deeply rooted or not—is merely repeated action: an inane process that temporarily affords us some stability and empowerment. The antiquated belief that formal rituals are vital in sustaining the universe is not unlike our impulse to rely on quotidian ones to keep our individual lives in order today. By imprinting “meaning” onto otherwise empty space and time, we are seeking some sense out of the nonsense, creating order out of disorder, and challenging our fear of absurdity. Perception— how we chooseto see our world and the actions we take as a result— becomes the transformative tool through which we shape our reality.
Ambika Trasi was born and raised in Metuchen, NJ. She received her BFA at NYU in 2010, concentrated in printmaking, and minored in South Asian Studies. A visual artist, she currently lives and works back and forth between New Jersey and New York City.
Through analyzing the immigrant experience, my work examines several levels of identity. The first is the dual/hybridized/transparent identity of the immigrant, which has been a personal struggle since my migration to the United States in the late 90’s from the country of Bahrain. The second, which my most current work has been exploring, is the loss of identity through the loss of my native language, Arabic.
I explore this theme by utilizing primitive printmaking techniques by pressing paper (because we read and write on paper) to a series of selected Arabic words, which I paint in black (since we learn from textbooks, which are predominately printed in the same shades) on the wall in a Calligraphic style to create a print. I select specific words, ones that represent a social norm/identity that is native to my home land. For example the word ‘man’, which in the United States carries a different social context as opposed to its Middle Eastern counterpart. During this process the Arabic words, which are written right to left, reverse when removed from the wall, thus representing an Anglicization of the Arabic language. Their new forms become a product of dualities, two surfaces compressing the paint to create a new formed word/identity. The reversed abstracted words take on a new perception, which by following my example of the word ‘man’ once anglicized, takes on both western and eastern meanings. I use these words and social constructs as a reflection of my experiences of being an easterner in the western world. The abstracted forms in my work reveal the loss of identity by my losing my understanding of my native tongue.
The prints created during what has now become the first step of this project are left as is, on paper. However, the evolution of my work has moved towards removing the positive space or the anglicized words, collaging those pieces, and assembling them onto a grey canvas; I choose grey to reflect the in-between/transparency of being neither Egyptian nor American. I add geometric patterns to hint towards my artistic heritage. The reconfiguring of both calligraphy and geometric patterns are symbolic of rethinking the traditional eastern identity in the modern western world.
With the convenience of Google Earth and Street View, we can now travel without ever leaving our seats. All that’s missing is the physical experience of being present in a place. I fill this gap by compressing experiences and transferring them into my landscape paintings.
As part of that journey, I study place by considering a location’s experiential properties along with its natural and physical properties. Every component of a place enters my work—from the fly buzzing around one’s face, to the dull sound of drilling heard many miles away. My work takes shape as elements of abstraction weave in and out of vegetation and architecture.
I work in two formats: small-scale sketches and large-scale paintings. Small-scale sketches are done on paper using painting and drawing techniques. This scale allows the sketches to be personal and private exploration of forms and relationships between them. The sketches serve as spontaneous ‘notes’ that translate and archive my personal intuitive experiences and perceptions of shapes, structures, and color relationships found in nature. On the grounds of their nature, the sketches pose a question to which I seek an answer in the large-scale paintings. In large painting formats I am able to incorporate grand gesture and energy, which often accompanies spontaneous, intuitive process of creating. Large-scale format dictates to the viewer angle and degree of perception. It results in that the surroundings do not take away or disturb attention. The painting fills entire field of view of the observer. These paintings are an attempt to find answer to intriguing questions of relations between forms, structures, colors and light.
During the residency I will paint a cycle of large format paintings. The series will be inspired by history and location of the New York City and Newark metropolitan region, its industrial and port tradition, architecture found at the coastline, transportation networks, and by influence of geographic and industrial conditions on its character. The paintings will translate into my language the development of this place and constant changes that are still occurring. For the purpose, I will study available materials that refer to the development of this region.
I came to the United States 10 years ago and recently moved to NJ from Chicago. I was born and raised in a small town in Upper Silesia in Poland. Since childhood I have always been fascinated with observing the phenomenon of light as well as nature. Because I grew up in a family where the tradition of art was deeply rooted, it was not difficult for me to discover the passion I had for painting and drawing. With time, I began to develop an interest in architecture as well. After receiving my master’s from the Academy of Fine Arts in 1999, I began working as a designer and illustrator for Diskau Advertising Agency in Katowice, Poland. A year later, I began working for Leo Burnett, an American advertising agency, which had one of its branches located in Warsaw. Then, I worked for a newspaper called Trybuna Slaska (Silesian Tribune) as a graphic artist and illustrator.
I plan to make larger sculptures, and to work with a broader range of materials. I will use the studio space to work with found objects and build structures from wood, metal, and wire and incorporate them into my sewn sculptures.During the last decade, I have focused on making sculpture and two dimensional works by cutting out forms in canvas, then stuffing and sewing the forms together. These stuffed, sewn forms are either stitched using different colors of thread or covered with colors of fabric. The stitching or fabric covering is like drawing or painting and I like the color, light and surface the thread or fabric makes on the stuffed canvas. The sewn forms that are covered with fabric are simplified and minimal and contrast different colors and shapes. The work is figurative but influenced by abstract art. It is sometimes humorous and often political. The subject matter is taken from personal thoughts, experiences in my life and reactions to political events around the world.
Patricia Dahlman was born in Cincinnati, Ohio and studied art at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio and Yale University Summer School of Art and Music in Norfolk, Connecticut. Dahlman has lived and worked as an artist in Seattle, San Francisco and the New York City area. She has received a New Jersey Printmaking Fellowship to Rutgers Center for Innovative Print and Paper, two Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation Fellowships to attend Vermont Studio Center and Virginia Center for Creative Arts, a Puffin Foundation Grant Award, a Yaddo Artist Residency, and a Gallery Aferro Studio Residency. Dahlman has exhibited her work all over the United States and has been included in exhibitions at George Adams Gallery in NYC, Bedford Gallery in Walnut Creek, CA, The Center for Book Arts in NYC, and the New York Public Library, Mid-Manhattan Library. In 2010 Dahlman had a one person exhibition “The Art and Science of Happiness: Patricia Dahlman,” as part of the Dana Women Artist Series, at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ.
My obsessions emanate from the care and respect of the natural environment. I am interested in building an installation that blends horticulture together with art. Working with hydroponics technology, I would like to construct a viable off-grid ecologically sustainable garden. Through a combination of agricultural methods, I plan to construct a portable hydroponic garden with whimsical delight and major plant greenery.
Concerns about wasteful agricultural methods, ramifications of genetically altered foods, and environmental impacts are brought to light by combining off-industry growing with technology and art. Common hardware store gear such as pvc piping, buckets, and pumps for example, are compiled and constructed to suit new purposes. The transportable garden will modify itself by acclimating to new settings and surroundings. The blending of art, agriculture, and sustainable technologies encourage dialogue that advocates responsible use of the environments natural resources. This empowers viewers to navigate paths toward making a meaningful difference in altering practices for a sustainable future.
Vikki Michalios is a visual artist in the New York City and Newark Metro areas with a studio/lab in Jersey City. She completed a Bachelor of Arts degree program from The Evergreen State College in 1992. While working toward her MFA degree from the University of Oregon, Vikki was awarded fellowships at the Chautauqua Institution during the summers. She relocated from her native Pacific Northwest residence to New York City upon completing her MFA program in 1995. Her work deals with environmental systems and concerns using painting, drawing, experimental print-making, and installation. She has exhibited at the Hunterdon Museum, Brooklyn Museum, Jersey City Museum, Blackburn 20/20 at Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts, Center for Contemporary Arts in Bedminster, Contemporary Artists Center Woodside, AIR Gallery, and Denise Bibro among others. She has been published or reviewed in The Star Ledger, New York Arts Magazine, and Steven Zevitas publication, Studio Visit Magazine. Michalioshas been awarded residencies at Millay Colony of Art, city without walls ArtReach, and Chautauqua Institution.
The desire to belong somewhere definitive, as opposed to straddling multiple cultural identities, is common amongst expatriates. The social demographic of neither here nor there is a fragile middle space to navigate. In my diaspora experience, I hone a genetic memory of West Africa, but have simultaneously formed a unique hybrid culture and identity to authenticate my existence.
In my work I explore themes of authenticity, cross-cultural synapse and the migration towards or away from aspects of one’s origin. My large-scale drawings create a visual vocabulary to identify various populations and the hybrid that ensues as a cross pollination of those cultures and peoples. The imagery of these characters often reference biological organisms and processes, or mathematic functions that have the ability to both divide and multiply. Each drawing investigates the dynamic and complex relationships these distinct identities and cultures have with one another. Their visual interactions address issues of a presumed cultural hierarchy, various degrees of kinship and the isolationist desire to maintain authenticity.
I view drawing as a self-sufficient, non-precursory medium, with an ability to absorb, layer, erase and reveal mark-making processes. Drawing is an interactive dialogue between myself, the paper, the materials and the processes. It is a back and forth exchange where I both relinquish control to the inherent nature of my materials, while actively making conscious decisions to either initiate marks or respond. Upon ‘completion’ there are multiple drawings that exist beneath the visible surface of the paper.
Ruby Onyinyechi Amanze is a brooklyn based artist and educator of Nigerian birth and British upbringing. She has come to not only accept this reality, but ultimately find empowerment in the authenticity of the hybrid. Her drawings have been influenced greatly by textile processes, print-making, collage, architecture and the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi that emphasizes the beauty in that which is transient. Her collection of writings are just words, slightly disjointed like thoughts, and hopefully minus sequins or other forms of embellishment. During her time at Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia, she studied photography and fiber/material studies. She then went on to earn an inter-disciplinary MFA at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Aside from her passion for art, Ruby is one of those weird running people. Outside. On a track. Up hills. And in her mind.
Alexandra Desipris and Polina Zaitseva
Polina Zaitseva and Alexandra Desipris will be utilizing this collaborative residency to explore various ideas connecting women and nature and women as intermediaries between humanity as a whole and the natural world. The intention is to cover different spectrums of this theme and coincide with a joint film project while influencing each others personal work by communication and exchange.
Alexandra Desipris is a Greek-American painter and sculptor from Northern New Jersey. Her paintings and related art explore the relationships between her ethnic background, femininity, liminal states, and stylized imagery such as Byzantine icons, or direct symbol systems like tarot cards and religious imagery. In addition to painting and sculpting she has studied spinning, weaving, natural dying, and embroidery believing that “women’s work” is important to understanding the historical and cultural contributions to art that were traditionally the only creative outlet allowed to women in very patriarchal Greek society, as well as many other cultures, and what that means to her creative endeavor as a modern woman. She incorporates various ideas from literature and semiotics into her work to create a narrative structure that she feels gives the images more significance and an ability to communicate directly to the subconscious. Her goal as an artist is to create a series of images that function without the need for verbal discussion.
During this residency I intend to further explore ideas of women as creative communicators and mediators through traditional outlets using my own stylized method of communication. Very specifically I will take the imagery presented in traditional Greek funeral lamentations and use this to create a visual language that exists outside of the aural poetic structure of the “miroloyia.” I will be experimenting with various techniques such as “champlevé” etching on metal, and large scale paintings on wood as well as exploring multimedia ideas with my partner, Polina Zaitseva.
Polina Zaitseva is a Russian-born multimedia artist with a background in both video production and design. She has exhibited her artwork all throughout New Jersey and New York. She is currently working as an animation director and illustrator for the upcoming documentary, Three Candles. Polina has had solo exhibitions at the Index Art Center, Fort Lee Museum, and Visual Arts Gallery at New Jersey City University. She’s participated in multiple group exhibitions including Digital Graffiti Festival, Visual Arts Center of NJ, ArcheTime Film Festival, Walsh Gallery of Seton Hall, Galapagos Art Space, and Jersey City Museum. She is currently a design adjunct at NJIT, the College of Architecture and Design. This is her first residency.
Although my main ideas have been revolving around female image and self-identity, this project includes animalistic themes of human nature. I question if the civility truly exists in modern women without trying to prove anything. It is a visual narrative, as well as a study of innocence and animal impudence. I will be using mixed media, such as photography and digital manipulation to reflect the animalistic nature of a woman thriving for identity. No matter how we box our identity into a civilized world, we are still the animal within.
I truly enjoy the exploration of all mediums and various themes. I treat every project as its own initial concept or narrative, with its own experimentation and challenges. The best way for me to connect to people is through visual communication. An image is a powerful tool. It is a conversation between the creator and the audience. It is the intermediary connection. My goal is to continue to create and develop those conversations.
During the residency I will be working on “Brick City,” a collection of bricks from around the city with painted scenes of Newark on each brick. Separately each brick stands alone as a symbol of its painted scenario. However together they form “Brick City, “ a reflective look at our beautiful city in the artist form of its name sake. The plan is to complete the series within the 6 month residency time period with a public showing at the end. Approximately 50-60 bricks will be painted on to create an entire brick wall of images of Newark. Each brick will offer a subtle flavor and history of the city rarely seen displayed together. The piece is to remind its citizens and all that view the exhibit of the beauty that Newark possesses even through the years of negatively stained rumors. Once completed, each brick will be photographed to create an up-to-date, educational yet fun coffee table history book on Newark and its wonders and people.The book will be self published and for sale while the piece is on display. The goal here is to bring all the beauty of Newark to the forefront of our minds and to remind us that our city has more to offer than most remember or realize.
As a Newark born artist, the trials and tribulations of living in the inner city have helped to shape my passion and appreciation for life. My artistic style is pure, unique and thought provoking. It is a reflection of my passion towards my fellow man. I seek to pass on and inspire positive messages to my community an all who view my works. I specialize in portraiture impressions through visual translation based on individualized customer needs. I have studied many forms of art; oil, watercolor, acrylic, pencil, charcoal and pastels. My specific style offers a strong, colorful and mysterious perspective on people geared towards inspiring everyone to remember their own vitality for life and beauty.
In continuing my exploration of the effects of the environment on individuals through art, I will use my studio space at the Gallery Aferro as a research lab where I could not only document the effects of the environment on individuals, but also create an environment for them to react to.
Environmental psychology is a direct study of the relationship between an environment and how that environment affects its inhabitants. Specific aspects of this field work by identifying a problem and through the identification of said problem, discovering a solution. Therefore it is necessary for environmental psychology to be problem oriented. The problems identified by environmental psychologists affect all members of society. These problems can be anything from the psychological effects of urban crowding to the architectural design of public schools and extend from the public arena into the individual household.
In society, individuals are exposed to different forms of the environment that they are faced with everyday — encompassing natural environments, social settings, built environments, learning environments, and informational environments. All of these environments can be overwhelming or underwhelming and thus a driving force in ones attitudes, moods, and beliefs. I’m interested in delving into the psyche of individuals to see how they are being affected. And studying this through art can be very revealing of what’s up with society today.
James Horner is a painter who lives in New York City. His colorful expressionistic paintings explore the psychological effects of the environment on individuals. Figures are often abstracted to the point of the grotesque and overwhelmed or torn apart by their surroundings. Shapes interact with figures in space as lines connect atmospheres in different directions, creating islands with systems of thought. Horner communicates his viewpoint thorough a unique style of painting, which samples from traditional and contemporary abstract/expressionist, surrealist, pop art.
Horner has an MFA in painting from Lehman College; has exhibited nationally and internationally in group shows; regularly donates work for charity art auctions, such as the Bellport Boys and Girls Club Beach Ball and the Housingworks Design on a Dime; won the OUT Magazine Tylenol PM Sleepwear Design Challenge, and participates in the annual Harlem Art Walking Tour of open studios. He is also an art critic for the Examiner and Bronx Art Guide websites and writes a blog called James and the Lovelies.
I build large multi- media installations through which I confront the complexity of my migratory history as I have roots in India, Pakistan and Canada with a North African birth. Through the fragments of my known identity I piece together my culture and place of belonging the result being a constructed space that incorporates many cultures. Through my installations I am literally trying to find my own place within my current locale while taking into consideration my personal as well as my family’s history.
I construct domestic structures by utilizing building materials such as concrete, bricks, plaster and wood. To complete the puzzle of my story of migration I incorporate objects that originate from the places to which I lay claim into my work. I have used grasses from Northern Ontario, sand from India and old family photographs. The materials and the process used within my work is symbolic to my ongoing attempt to identify my place of belonging. My installations are spaces that represent fragments of homes that have been constructed from threading together memories and imagining an environment that defines my bicultural socialization. From gathering family stories, historical artefacts and through my own personal experience I continuously weave a story of migration, culture, nationalism and identity.
Mona Kamal attempts to define the complexity of her migratory history through installations. She has exhibited throughout Canada, in New York and in New Delhi India. Mona has had solo exhibitions at YYZ Artists’ Outlet and the Harbourfront Centre in Toronto, Ontario as well as group exhibitions at A Space Gallery in Toronto, Rush Arts Gallery and Exit Art in New York and Gallery Espace in New Delhi. She has received several grants for the creation of her artworks through the Ontario and the Toronto Arts Councils. She has attended residencies at the Banff Centre in Banff, Canada (2011) the Sanskriti Foundation in New Delhi (2007), Studio LLC at the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning (2011). She is an active member of the arts community in New York and has curated an exhibition (2010) and taught at Parsons the New School for Design. She received her BFA from NSCAD University in Halifax Canada and her MFA from Parsons the New School for Design. Mona lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.
Decolonizing the mind is an installation performance with public interaction in regards to pedagogy as it relates to issues of identity, race and class stratification. The walls of the space will be consumed by chalkboards with text and images opposite blank chalkboards for the public’s response. Simultaneously, four high school students will be creating a pile of old school desk in the middle of the space that will involve sound and audio from Ngugi Wa Thiongo’s book “Decolonizing the Mind”.
“Language as culture is the collective memory bank of a people’s experience in history”. – Ngugi Wa Thiongo
Searching for my own reconciliation between nature and culture it was necessary for me to contemplate on the intrinsic value of both. As an artist and citizen, it is vital that my life practice and studio work seamlessly co-exist, aiming to have as little negative impact on the environment as possible. Investigating new approaches to art-making coincides with rethinking of materials and methodologies and how these new ideas could be applied in the broader culture as well.
My projects contextually link industrial resource use and consumptive human behavior with current environmental problems. Using a multitude of mediums for each installation there is, nonetheless, a focus on a specific object that functions as a motif and is chosen for its nostalgic and historical reference. The shift toward human-powered energy production using such motifs is to bring the body into direct relationship with the objects. These objects are made with re-purposed mechanical and bicycle parts and coupled with new energy-efficient technology inspired by DIY thinking and human-powered mechanisms used in developing countries. The projects specifically link energy and a local resource being managed or used that has global repercussions; such as energy and water in the desert or energy and topsoil in the Midwest.
My personal experience with embodied knowledge leads me to believe that humans learn deeply through experiential stimulus in our bodies. Human-powered tasks promote physical and psychological awareness of the relationship between human consumption and human expenditure. In my research, I seek to understand how the use of human-power can affect attitudes and behavior toward resource use. Is it meaningful to a society with abundant wealth or only when there is economic disparity and social injustice present, such as in developing countries (where human-power is essential in providing basic conveniences)? The mechanisms may not power modern homes – that isn’t the intention. I believe, though, that the act provides a closer connection to the process and highlights a very important notion – that of empowerment.
S*OIL examines the history of industrialization in relation to living systems. At the nucleus of the installation is a railway handcar mechanism that generates electricity to power visual components. The installation magnifies the complexities inherent in natural processes and raises the question: Can industrial processes be modified to emulate the closed-loop, sustainable methodologies of natural processes? The project is currently in the prototype stage and the goal is to complete it this spring for a solo exhibition next fall.This project will require some offsite fabrication (metal), video editing, programming and testing of the Botanicalls unit, assembling the planters and framing, and growing the seedlings.
The second project, Mobilis, will be a nine-foot human-powered convertible automobile with a hand held GPS device (a smart phone) that communicates with Google Earth running on a mac mini. When the user enters coordinates of wilderness areas into the cell phone program, Google Earth locates the geographical area as well as the adjacent corridors with industrial activity, to screen on a monitor. But in order to see the satellite images the user must pedal to power the monitor. I will be working on the software aspect, a topographical map book, drawings and building a prototype. My goal is to have the prototype completed by the end of the residency for ISEA2012 (International Symposium on Electronic Art) in September.
The third project is to create a human-power project kit that would accompany me during workshops at educational institutions. The kit will be a small-scale version of my installation practice, making human-powered ‘artworks’ accessible to students and educators in an easy-to-assemble DIY kit. Additional parts are included for the user to create something original to power. I will have a first version prototype ready for a workshop I will give late April and depending on the results from that workshop, I will work with a product designer to finalize a prototype before seeking investors to continue through to the manufacturing stage.
I’ve been a practicing artist for the past 12 years, focusing primarily on painting. I have explored many styles and color palettes throughout that time before evolving into my current state. As I’ve continued my practice, the process has become more improvisational. The act of painting is a conversation between the work and I. I am not interested in a rote approach to art making. It is through letting go that discoveries are made. As far as subject, ideas come from experiences. Whether it be from books, movies, conversations or some chance encounter on the street; inspiration is everywhere.
I’m intrigued by people’s interaction in society, a theme my art shares with my former vocation of American historian. Actually, I should say that missed connection fascinates me as much as interaction, for obliviousness—to other people, to utter disaster—inhabits my work, perhaps more than the interaction I tell myself I’d prefer to find.
My paintings and drawings since 2009 span a range from abstract to figurative. Currently I’m concentrating on digital + manual paintings inspired by the archive of Brooklyn photographs made in the 1970s and 1980s by Lucille Fornasieri-Gold. My Brooklyn paintings spring from various roots: a photographic archive, printmaking, collage, and a process both digital and manual. On top of scanned, edited, colored, composed, fractured, layered, repeated, and flattened images produced with Photoshop, I paint colors and patterns whose textures can come only from a painter’s hand. Their imagery betrays digital manipulation, and their painterly surfaces occlude historical import.
My formal art training consists of a BFA in painting from Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers-the State University of New Jersey in 2009 and an MFA in painting from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2011. In my previous life as historian I earned a Ph.D. at Harvard in 1974 and held the Edwards Professorship in American History at Princeton University. I have published seven books, the most recent, The History of White People, came out in March of this year with a front-page review in the New York Times Book Review. Currently the Virtual Artist in Residence of the Creative Research Center of Montclair State University, I have shown my work in student exhibitions at Mason Gross and RISD and supplied cover art for a book of poetry and last summer’s issue of the journal SIGNS. While I was an undergraduate at Rutgers, NJN TV’s “State of the Arts” profiled me as both historian and art student. In 2012 the Brooklyn Historical Society will mount an exhibition of my Brooklyn paintings along with the photographic archive that inspired them.
My current work is located in a dialogue between the relevance of painting and questions of my ethics. While my ongoing interests lie in place and memory, and spatiality and materiality, my struggle is to reconcile those interests with the complexities beneath the surface of my subjects: their historical, social and political contexts. Doubt is an attitude that drives me in this current studio practice: suspicion of being complicit with certain studio habits, uncertainties in the level of responsibility I’m taking towards questions of context, and finding ill-fits between my commitment to painting and certain truths about my subject. Some of the questions I have been asking myself are: How is painting a relevant medium in this inquiry? Because painting is still linked to long established definitions of beauty, what can it tell me and the audience about contemporary art production and spectatorship? Is painting even still possible in our chaotic and sped up present?”
Also, narrative is something I’m currently thinking about. It is pervasive in my work. It holds together the layers of formal oppositions, tensions, transformations and revisions that occur within the painting and drawings. It defines my animation work.
And so for this residency at Gallery Aferro, I intend to focus particularly on narrative as the boundary to put in specific form the questions I have above.
Katrina Bello was born in Davao City, Philippines. She is a visual artist who lives and works back and forth between Montclair and Newark in New Jersey, Baltimore, New York City, and Metro Manila. She is also working on newark bunker projects, a rogue curatorial experiment in Newark, New Jersey. As she works on this project and participates in solo and group exhibitions, Katrina currently pursues her MFA in Studio Art at the Maryland Institute College of Art. She received her BFA from Mason Gross School of the Arts in Rutgers University in New Jersey, and attended the University of the Philippines College of Fine Arts in Diliman, Quezon City as an Industrial Design Major.
I build my work as representations of emotional situations in my life. The materials I use and the way they interact become metaphors and diagrams. I choose ordinary materials for certain qualities that accurately portray the situations with which I am concerned. Often, additional attributes of the materials become unexpectedly significant. My work is wrapped, covered, bound, enclosed, hidden, surrounded. Paradoxically, it is often transparent, translucent or with gaping holes, revealing the walls of an empty room. When looked through, my pieces alter perspective, cause things to appear distorted, cloudy, tinged or steeped.
In building and transforming these autobiographical narratives, I hope that I can understand and rework the situations. I think of the results as obsessive gestures of hope.
I have recently begun to and will continue to explore emotional, ambiguous dichotomies such as function and insignificance, need and disposal, contained and non-contained. Things that quickly shift and adopt opposite meaning interest me. I will consider subtle patterns of everyday life and recognize things that persist and those that fade away. I will continue to shape and reshape these emotions until I understand them. I expect to continue to develop these themes using techniques of shape, repetition, and accumulation. I would like to make installation work which could relate more to the human body. I would like to build experiences that move though narrative, lingering and developing within the viewer, rather than moments that pass quickly.
Marcy Chevali was born in Cleveland, Ohio. She received a BFA from The Ohio State University and explored the spatial metaphors of her emotions while earning a MFA from Maine College of Art. Her work has been shown at venues such as Aicon Gallery, AC Institute, The ICA at MECA, and The Gallery of Contemporary Art and Sacred Heart University. During the pauses from tangling or untangling thread, she twists images into short videos as part of the collective afternoon girls.
Nadja Frank and Jomar Statkun have been working on numerous collaborative projects together for the past few years. They have drawn from their individual practices to focus on where their work intersects and explores common themes. Scale and self-appropriation have been common threads that have fused, as well as caused necessary tensions, throughout the collaborative works. Whether inspired by natural environments or man-made structures, their works have explored and exploited physical landscapes, sound situations, art markets and the making and unmaking of the social structures that exist in the experiencing of “art”, both in a natural environment and a created gallery/art house setting.
Nadja Frank was born in Lohr am Main, Germany. She received her Diploma in Fine Arts with Honors from Hochschule fur bildende Künste in Hamburg, Germany in 2008. She has exhibited internationally in numerous solo exhibitions (401contemporary Berlin/London, Germany;Margini Arte Contemporanea, Massa, Italy; Galerie Conradi, Hamburg, Germany) and group exhibitions (Kunst Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Bonn, Germany; Kunstverein Hamburg, Germany, Silvershed, New York). Her work operates on the edge between painting, sculpture and architectural environments. Her recent site-specific installations deal with transience, the process of making and unmaking, and the movement/evolution of color through space and time. Displacement of imagery and object has been an obsession throughout Frank’s work, finding tension and collision in the gaps between and natural and man-made worlds. She currently lives in New York.
Jomar Statkun was born in Freehold, NJ. He received his MFA at Boston University. There he received the Jack Kramer Award and the Esther B. and Albert S. Kahn Award. Most recently he was an Artist in Residence at Redgate Artist Residency in Beijing, China, the Gowanus Studio Space in Brooklyn, NY and the Short Term Residency Program at the PS122 gallery, NY. Jomar Statkun has exhibited internationally in numerous solo and group exhibitions and has works in many in private and public collections.
Statkun is interested in formal engagements with aesthetics. He is preoccupied with colonialism, transmigrant and immigrant culture and political activities and uses art as an encompassing foil, analogue and counterpart to discuss historical influences on a rage of socio-political attitudes and positions that are subtexts to a cultural discourse that subsumes them and hands them over to capitalism – what he considers a highly problematic neoliberal brand of capitalism. He currently lives in New York.
There is a playful futility in my work. Stemming from a long-standing interest in cosmology and structural systems, my work deals with trying to understand the architecture(s) of the universe. My work owes its genesis to the fact that pure science has not been able to delineate the structures that define our universe or devise a satisfactory architecture to encompass the enormity of the sublime.
As an artist I investigate the structural systems that may never be known. I combine on-going research and exploration of contemporary physics with my own imaginations; creating works that exist outside of the strict confines of our physical world. My work aims to encourage a personal understanding of the universe and relies on intuitions and imaginations where measurements and mathematics have failed.
With my recent work Conic Portal through Space I explored the relationship between inner space and outer space. The installation was devised as a site-specific architectural intervention that brought the outside space into the site and at the same time pulled the viewer out. The work was built at an alternative arts space over the course of five days, and required approximately one thousand pounds of recycled wood obtained from dumpsters and Craigslist. By piercing the wall of the building I created a portal which connected the inside and outside spaces. A 30 foot conic form spiraled through the space, confronting the viewer head-on as they entered the space. Inspired by black holes and inter-dimensional portals, the work acted to excite the viewer’s imagination. I wanted to promote the contemplation of the nature of space-time as well as creating an awareness of the presence and limitations of the architecture in which the work existed.
I was recently gifted approximately 800 pounds of old 4×4 wood beams that were part of a old fence surrounding a farm in rural Pennsylvania and I intend to use this beautiful old hard-wood lumber as the foundation of a new sculptural project. The new piece would incorporate the old fence beams, tube-style TVs, VCRs, paint, drywall, insulation fiberglass, shipping pallets and candy.
Born in Bremen, Germany, Don Edler and his family moved to South Florida when he was a small child. Growing up in a small beach town,Don spent most of his young life out-doors or with his Father in the garage where together they would build things, from bamboo kites to motorized surf boards. Don began taking Saturday morning art classes at a very early age when his parents noticed a general lack of interest in team sports but a fascination with Lego building blocks. Don studied Industrial Design at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, Film and Animation at NYU, and Sculpture and New Media at the University of Florida. Don credits his eclectic curriculum as a formative experience which exposed him to a much more diverse range of artistic possibilities and as the source of a unique tool set which has helped him realize his work through multilayered, technically complicated sculpture and installation.
The abstract prints, “Mind Inside Nature” addresses nature’s process of finding balance in an interrelated system in great need of healing. A great amount of time is spent drawing with graphite, ink, charcoal, and several types of papers including tracing paper, a variety of printmaking paper, and velum. The drawings are a critical thought process used to translate into prints. Images are carved and rendered onto several copper plates using printmaking techniques such as aquatint, drypoint, and acid baths. The plates are combined sometimes using four or five at one time to form compositions. The prints are deliberated and scrutinized and altered during an additive and subtractive approach to space, line, form, and color similar to drawing. Forms interact with each other as I aim to affect equilibrium between abstract elements in a defined space. Each composition is built from the last. This is how the visual language evolves and how the process forever reinvents itself. When the plates are ready, I collaborate with a Rie Hasegawa of Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop and produce hundreds of pieces and variety sizes.
Vikki Michalios has exhibited nationally at venues including recently at the Center for Contemporary Art, Troy, NY, Denise Bibro Fine Art, NY, NY. She is the recipient of numerous fellowships and residencies including Fellowship,Millay Colony of Art, Austerlitz, NY, Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, VT, Chautauqua Institution, NY and the Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, VT.
Objects of Desire
For the inaugural residency with the lab, a collaborative, thematic residency at Gallery Aferro, curator and artist Nancy Mahl will be working with Carrie Lincourt, Kasha Minenko and others to explore “Devices of Pleasure.”
We aim to build and display interactive electromechanical objects that enhance the audience’s pursuit of aesthetic delight. We are interested in an embrace of hedonism in art–a contemporary reflection of an ethos manifested the 60’s and 70’s in work by filmmakers and performers Jack Smith, the Cockettes, and Kenneth Anger, among others. Rather than limit ourselves to film, we wish to make a variety of objects — some of which will integrate projected imagery, and some of which will create an aural, visceral, and or olfactory experience of pleasure in public space. One of the motivations of the project is an avoidance of the solitary onanistic pleasure that is associated with the viewing and collecting of art. We would like to create an installation where pleasure is shared, and the viewer’s joy makes her/him feel a part of something larger.
We envision an installation that creates, at least temporarily, a community of pleasure rather than of purpose or identity. Our vision is not specifically erotic (as erotic tastes are too specific to be universally shared), though inspiring a polymorphously perverse pleasure through texture, sound, motion or scent is certainly to be hoped for. We wish to cultivate an infant’s delight in the novel more than the furtive pleasure of the dirty bookstore’s customer (though we don’t discount the value of furtive pleasure.) We also envision creating delight that is not anticipated or sought by the audience. A pleasure unrelated to whatever desires the audience arrives with–a pleasure that we give, rather that one that is expected.
Our varied skill sets and backgrounds (sound installation artist, video artist, machinist, visual artist, mechanic) will allow us to collaboratively explore our ideas and create this installation. That the four of us have very different ideas of what constitutes pleasure, and that we think in a variety of native languages, we also see as a boon, and a factor that may make our work especially relevant and legible to Aferro’s diverse audience. We envision using a studio space as a workshop for design and fabrication, a meeting space for brainstorming, a studio for shooting images, and an important place to meet and interact with other artists. We also embrace the idea of a shared space for a specific project as an alternative to working in solitude and an opportunity to challenge and inspire each other. We are taking the model of an architectural studio for inspiration and look forward to working together en charette to create our devices.
I’ve got black sump pump hose – hundreds of feet of it, which I cut into 20-foot lengths, and then tie into pointless, nasty knots. I’ve got a precious spool of plastic- coated woven steel wire (what if I run out?), bought cheap, at a salvage yard run by identical twin brothers in Stamford Ct. I use it as a kind of thin ‘spine’, stringing those black hose knots together like lumpy beads, and then hanging them overhead. I’ve got yards and yards of plastic sheeting, and boxes of plastic trash bags – clear and black, various thicknesses – which I cut into strips, to lash these sump pump knots together even more closely.
With things firmly tied into place, and some wadded-up old upholstery foam pushed in here and there, I take larger sheets of plastic, and continue the tying, tying, tying– trying to cover this congregated assembly of tubes and softness, tension and emptiness, complication and worthlessness – making a skin, I guess. (It’s never right. There are always holes. I need more plastic. This time it really won’t work)
With everything more or less covered, like a big stupid gift, I dig out my trusty Bosch® heat gun (more than 20 years old!), flip the switch, and begin the transformation.The plastic sheets shrink and shrivel, puckering, collapsing. They melt together in places, melt through in places, pull taut in places, creating a restless muscular contour. Then comes the shellac, like a runny, aromatic balm. Brushed on freely, it rushes across the creased surfaces, to seal and pool and penetrate, revealing what’s underneath, or emphasizing a subtle difference between this one material and the neighbor to which it’s tied. With the amber coating applied, this newest concoction of cheap, unglamorous materials, divorced from their intended purposes, assumes a new identity.
In a way, it’s a self-portrait – another compulsive eruption of my core personal struggle with valuelessness, purposelessness, powerlessness and, somehow, a conflicting, desperate hope in the possibility of transformation and redemption. It’s a confession, an attempt at expiation, for my complicity in the wounding of others – the uncountable burnings and maimings suffered in the prosecution of injustices I’ve been too lazy or indifferent or frightened to protest? And it might just be another lame, whiny complaint, made by yet one more man who can’t quite swallow the lamentable reality in which he is embedded – that of being, in essence, a tiny prismatic channel of awareness strapped into a doomed fleshy vehicle with a rapidly approaching sell-by date No legal evasion available. No honorable escape permitted. No meaningful consolation prize in the offing.
If my life were a house, art would make up the basement, the outside walls, and the roof – it has been the supportive foundation of who I am. Through an unnecessarily picturesque upbringing (serial relocations, family fractures, twelve public schools attended by high school graduation), access to paper and crayons was as necessary to me as food and shelter. On active duty in the US Air Force, during the Vietnam Era, I managed to do oil paintings in my barracks room. While working on a BA at Penn State, I teetered between painting and theater as outlets for a restless need to create. Even after graduation, and while holding the most uninspiring jobs, I persisted in making things. But it was the discovery of glass blowing, in 1990 that took my art life in a drastically new direction. By 1992, I was enrolled in the MFA glass program in the School for American Craft, at Rochester Institute of Technology; by 1994, I had completed my degree work. Residencies and juried group shows followed. I had my first-ever solo glass exhibit, in Brooklyn NY, in 1996, and another small show at the Everson Museum, in Syracuse NY, brought the support of glass immortal Dale Chihuly.
Now, having taught glassblowing at the college level for seven years, at Philadephia PA’s University of the Arts, I find myself at what seems another creative crossroads– the new, larger suspended figural works, made mostly of industrial materials, springing from a love of early Northern Renaissance religious art, and the paintings of Francis Bacon, rivet my attention and insist that I make more, more.
Citizen James is a feature length screenplay that I wrote, based on James Armistead Lafayette’s true story as an invisible-man-double-agent-displaced-founder. Citizen James is also a multimedia installation project comprised of a hand-drawn, HD video, production environment developed to create footage from the screenplay.
During the Residency, I will install a working film set in the studio. The life-sized tableaus, handmade, drawn and constructed by the artist, render an immersive abstraction of an espionage landscape. The sets are flexible, extensible and collapsible, allowing the artist to scale and customize the shoots to suit the particularities of a given gallery and neighborhood context.
Shoots will occur as scheduled Open-Source Casting® events. Using the screenplay Citizen James, actors, passersby and invited guests will reenact James’s role ending the American Revolution by reading for the part of James, Cornwallis, The Marquis Lafayette or George Washington, based on the schedule. The sets allow anyone to “walk on” and be directed by the artist into preset cast positions and costumes, while reading lines from teleprompters just off camera. During the residency there will be a rotation of 5-6 scenes shot in repetition. This allows for the possibility of editing together hundreds of different people’s performances into a single director’s cut of James’s idiosyncratic historic role.
In the end, experimental, hybrid footage, will emerge.
“What Persists” – a proposal dealing with memory and loss, place and site … the difference between the thing and itself.
Memory itself is an act of re-imagining. Through this process a concrete experience of place becomes mutable, shifting, insubstantial, a ghost of itself. The re-presenting of this experience is at once analogous to this process of memory, losing and reconfiguring information, and a means of projecting the insubstantial into an other where it will again be re-member, re-imagined, a thing unto itself, existing wholly within the interior. To be sent out from this interior again calls for a translation, and yet another generation of re- imagining … this is the nature of loss and transformation.
Practicals: I will document my experience of the residency via video. I will use the video as a source for a body of work. The parts of this body, when viewed in proximity to one another, will demonstrate what of the experience, if anything, transcends translation;
what is lost; and what persists. In this process loss is manifested in transliteration via media: the same source information re-inscribed via a variety of media including text, video, digital print and painting. The resulting body of work is a map formed by the overlay of the literary, the material and the cognitive.
The body of work will include:
The subject of my work is the “ultrathin” moment between conception and creation. It is the moment of emergence. My work depicts that moment … a moment which cannot be written or spoken. In addition to painting, my work encompasses a variety of approaches with digital video and digital print being the most common. I also work through drawing, traditional silk- screen, collage, installation, etc. In all of my work the process involves gathering and capturing; editing and layering. I often seek to strain the limits of the medium’s ability to depict/transmit meaning. How far can I push and extend digital, for instance, before it breaks apart and the image gets lost. What happens in-between these bits of information? How are the gaps filled in?
For me, painting is full of risk, spontaneity, potential. I choose painting to describe the anxieties of our time. As in life, I manage uncertainty through a conscious tracking of time with fluid paint. Like a conversation, alternating line and wash test out form and ideas, all the while doing so with abandon; a blind movement forward. I map references to the body and time, forging temporal structures. As I work, the all-encompassing motion of laying down line deviates, sprouting off to create appendages and more fragmented forms. Jaunty, disjointed, fractured entities twist in space and appear on the verge of collapse. I am acutely aware of touch and the reconstruction of spatial memory. A kinetic energy can take over. Often, I interrupt improvisation with more conscious maneuvers. I shift to distant, material concerns as I outline, obliterate the excess, and sometimes create a skim coat through which the painting’s history can be viewed. The best paintings I make are the ones I can’t explain.
In the same way I pollute my abstract paintings with figurative and spatial references, I plan to complicate my working methods through engagement with the other artists and visitors in Newark. Like many artists, I am a very private artist. However, I am at a point in my work in which I sense a great need to get out of my comfort zone, and be challenged by my peers, my audience, and whomever visits my studio. Rather than beginning my works with a connection to the materials or myself, I would like start from the outside, collecting a series of responses from other residents that describe what their thoughts are on the “zeitgeist” of our time. This project could extend to other groups, such as local schools, or collections of statements from blogs, or from newspapers.
Polling, like abstraction, is a type of mapping can be understood in terms of a consensus. I would like to translate how these groups perceive our times into a series of large-scale paintings on primed paper. This method relieves me of the preciousness of working on canvases, yet I can still move around on the paper, perhaps cutting sections and reorienting those during the course of the residency. This could result in imagery that utilizes a very abstract language, or could incorporate more literal forms. I am open to whatever happens. The inability of symbols to adequately quantify experience has always been important in my work, yet I plan to challenge my own personal preferences. I value the power of how an image can be read, whether abstract or more literal, and would like to honor the perceptions of those around with a me with a project that encompasses their fears, anxieties, and hopes for our times.
Hiroshi Kumagai was born in Tokyo, Japan and now lives and works in Jersey City, New Jersey. His works involve the creation of conceptually based sociopolitical illustrations. In 2006 he began utilizing vinyl and images of quintessential American family and popular culture items to address issues of gender roles, the fragility of family dynamics, and the underlying threads of violence and danger that underpin American society.
“As a part of ongoing theme, I started collecting images of individuals who are engaging in online video chat, such as AIM and Skype. I was first fascinated by the intimate quality of the images and then captivated by the exhibitionist and voyeuristic quality of this method of communication. I intended not to make a judgment on digital communication or users of the medium, but to observe and abstract images as a transcription of what’s lost in translation.”
“I am researching new technologies and methods for projecting computer animations, using custom -built projectors, mirrors and other tools. The overall goal for the projection is for it to both be interactive in some way and for it to speak to the aesthetics of printmaking styles of public protest 1930-1945.”
I have completed several projects documenting the complex relationships between insular or private communities, and the larger public communities that surround them. This is a theme that was started with my work and residencies at Taliesin, where I documented the relationship between the exclusive intellectual enclave of Frank Lloyd Wrightʼs Fellowship located at Taliesin and the surrounding farmingcommunity of Spring Green, Wisconsin.
The images and installations I create are heavily inﬂuenced by my experiences not just as an artist, but as a member of a community that is deﬁned by the physical assertions and limitations of a very specific environment.”
By performing and enacting a series of repetitive transformative actions – whether it is painstakingly braiding and knotting length of tubing, or tearing and gnawing through slabs of foam – through the physicality of my actions, I bestow upon the material an ability to further decay, multiply or spread beyond its original confines. The systems that emerge in my installations contain references to disciplines ranging from topography, biology and the decorative arts.
I intend to transform the studio into an imaginary geological landscape and living ‘map’, where materials slowly accumulate forming compressed layers – yet also erode – over the duration of the residency. The residency will allow me to utilize the studio as a site for the creation of an on-going, dynamic installation that functions as a record of both my time and process during this set time period.
Only materials ‘local’ to the area will be utilized – these will slowly sediment and accumulate, forming a sculptural and material map of my practice, as well a record of scavenged and discarded materials that can be found in and around the neighborhood that Gallery Aferro is located. Rather than using the studio as a trash receptacle however, the space will be ever shifting, referencing actual geological systems (albeit one where the timeframe has been condensed).
And like all geological systems, with accumulation of layers, comes the necessary erosion and removal of sediment. This can be through an act such as trading materials with other artists, or exchange with the local community. In order to keep the system a closed one, all proceeds from the sale or trade of materials will be returned to the installation in the studio. I hope to create a fantastical world that intermittently utilizes scientific principles, yet is also a very personal material diary of the residency, the neighborhood, and of my own process. This residency will allow me to work towards my most ambitious and large scale installation yet, hopefully incorporating elements of performance and public interaction, pushing my practice in more critically challenging directions.
I would like to continue a body of work that focuses on domestic objects and textiles. I will use a variety of materials, found on site, in the surrounding neighborhoods, or swept up during the cleaning of the studio. I would like to make large wallpaper inspired work directly on the wall, using masking tape, dirt/detritus, thread, nails, and found materials, and then create groupings of sculptures/objects on pedestals, in display cabinets or vitrines, with drawings and ephemera in filing cabinets and card catalogs.
I have worked with dirt on the wall, without other materials or elements. I have also worked primarily with furniture, frames, textiles, and other objects.
I would like to try to bring these two methods of working together, to experiment with the ways that wallpaper and domestic objects and imagery could interact with a more sterile and blank space. The Aferro studio would be perfect for this project because it would detach the work from domestic connotations of space- the space instead would be in the scale of museum or gallery installations. I would like to set up a sort of museum space dedicated to these fragile and awkward remakings of patterns and objects, using not only furniture and objects but also pedestals, wall labels and pins and mounting devices, and other objects associated with museums and gallery spaces.
My installations quietly invade the environment, altering it significant yet subtle ways. I use simple materials such as masking tape, thumbtacks, dirt, and thread. The compositions develop in response to the physical and emotional characteristics of the site and the objects in it. I highlight the overlooked spaces, paying attention to corners, edges, and the point where one material meets another. Whether I am using dirt and detritus to create patterns on the wall, or using paint and thread to articulate line and shadow, the work appears to grow out of the space, and melt back into it.
I am interested in the crossover between domestic space and gallery space, and how one can make these spaces overlap, or converse. At a residency in a row of soon-to-be-demolished apartments, I was inspired by the layers of history found in the space, from the large decorative choices like wallpaper and carpet to the mundane or accidental things like nail holes in the wall, water damage, and peeling ceilings. Each space held the results of many people leaving their mark, intentionally or not. In these rooms, I pulled back some layers, and added my own. I created new wallpaper using dirt and cut paper, I delineated volumes of space with stretched thread or wooden slats, and add ghostlike decorative elements such as crown molding made of masking tape, a stained glass window made of cellophane and duct tape, and a row of potted plants made from broken crockery and found objects. My installations and objects repurpose the things that we sweep up, throw away, and overlook. In them, I interact with everyone who has built the room, remodeled it, cleaned it, or lived in it, and hold all of these past actions in a fragile balance with my own.
I make drawings and paintings that are based on my daily experience in urban spaces – my walk to work, the skyline seen from my apartment, the errands run throughout the week. I keep a camera on me all the time, and throughout the day, I document where I am. Each photograph is quite ordinary, but holds significance for the part it plays in the mapping of my life. Details that might be overlooked, such as the curve of a lampost or the molding on a windowsill, are captured so that later on they can be incorporated into minutely detailed compositions. In a way, drawing is like retracing my steps. However, rather than trying to piece together a coherent, objective narrative, I work with layers of imagery. Buildings are overlaid atop one another and allowed to tangle together.
Over time the layers obliterate parts of what is underneath, and the composition is woven out of hundreds of these daily recordings. I overload certain sections, and then counterbalance those areas with finely articulated, delicate structures – fire escapes, streetlights, the exposed pipes running through alleys. I am attempting to describe the experience of living in places that are constantly being transformed by construction and demolition.
I recently participated in a residency where for three months, I documented the changes in the city- the result of a lot of demolition to expand the railway station. Each day the landscape was altered, and I worked quickly to photograph and notate the changes in large mixed-media drawings, and one large permanent wall painting. The residency was held in a soon-to-be-demolished apartment building, and I was given a flat to use as a studio. This was the first time that I was able to work site- specifically, I painted on the largest wall in the house, carving into the wall, painting on it, removing wallpaper and then layering it back on. This process was very invigorating to me; I enjoyed the challenge of covering a huge space, and reacting to a specific architectural environment. The wall work has a similar sensibility to my other paintings and drawings, but I had to adjust to the scale and the surface, and all of my habits were challenged and stretched. I was able to work looser and more sculpturally.
In the studio at Gallery Aferro, I would like to explore the surrounding neighborhoods, and build up a composition first of all using local imagery, but also using imagery from my daily life, which would be spent traveling between the program and my apartment in NYC. All of these spaces would be woven together as a record of my surroundings, and a record of the demolition, change, and renewal that is a constant factor in all cities. In my practice, I take the endless motions of a city and slow them down, showing a sort of frame-by- frame account of the demolition and construction, but these frames are overlapped and jumbled together. I would like to work directly on the walls in the studio, and to see how the work can become even more dimensional, moving into and out of the wall. I plan to work on small works on paper at the same time.
My practice investigates structures that regulate human behavior. These include those that are self-made and those that are inflicted by external forces. I am interested in how these systems inform our perception of time, and shape lived experience.
A few questions:
What constitutes a lived life? How do we choose what activities (labor/leisure) we repeat, and what we isolate as a moment in time? How does repetition and variation shape identity and autonomy?
My work builds and takes from systems that are human made, those in which error and subjectivity are immersed into the layers of logic. I draw inspiration from task lists, diary entries, weather reports, navigation systems, and repetitive behaviors. With video at the center of my practice, my work takes the form of single channel videos, installations, drawings, and performances.
These ideas inform not only my approach to art, but to how I exist living in a high-density city where space and time are the ultimate commodity. My work offers temporary respite from the systems of regulation I subscribe to. It provides a sense of autonomy and a way to take a hold of time as a producer, and not a victim of its passing.
During my residency, I will be working on an ongoing project called The Edna Experiments. The project began during the summer of 2009 and has become a platform for producing a series of drawings and videos about idiosyncratic systems, revolving around everyday mundane tasks. The project was initially inspired by a series of diaries that I found in 2008 that chronicle the life of a woman named Edna. In these diaries she records the most mundane details of her life (mainly domestic labor), but absolutely no emotions. I became interested in these diaries both as a score for creating time-based work from, but also as a bazaar record of a life. The project has since expanded from using the diaries as sole source material, to the creation of other fictional self-regulatory structures that I develop through my own writing.
During my time at the Aferro, I plan to culminate this project into a large-scale installation that will include drawings, video, and objects. I am interested in creating a three dimensional space that is a kind of diary, or space where time and labor are simultaneously enacted and recorded.
Working along a continuum between drawing and photography, my practice involves both photo-based digital montage works and drawing installation works. I will use my time in residence to test materials, produce a major drawing installation in the Aferro space, as well as to plan and apply for off-site site-specific installations, using my work at Aferro as a springboard. The residency will allow me concentrated time to experiment and to conduct in-studio production of potential off-site works.
Over the past three years I have conceived and produced two bodies of photomontage work, Nicebergs and Icebergs and Mark. My last drawing installation was Flag. This was a 50×40 ft. piece that I produced and installed on the risers of the museum’s outdoor front staircase, generating the visual effect of fragmentation and reconciliation, depending on where the viewer positioned him or herself.
Calla Thompson’s art practice crosses media, examining the way power is enacted and exchanged in our culture. The visual language and wry humor in her work are at once comforting and familiar, dislocating and suggestive.
The kitchen table is a very important symbol and vehicle for stimulating creativity and achieving excellence in my life and psyche. I have been aware for some time that James Joyce had a special relationship with his kitchen. When it came to his great masterpiece Ulysses, Joyce “worked wherever he could find space – at a kitchen table, in the living room, or sometimes even propped up in bed.” The kitchen table of my family of origin served as an aid in propelling two of four children into the position of high school class Valedictorian. For creating my sculpture, in place of my kitchen table, I actually use the portable dishwasher, which has wheels, which are very helpful for a person working in 3-D. According to the historians, Dylan Thomas’ first desk was his kitchen table. In summary, the breakfast nook in my kitchen currently serves as my studio. I use my portable dishwasher instead of my real sculpture table. I work in intervals of 20 minutes or less with regular interruptions from my children, telephone and doorbell. Nothing has prevented me from making art.
The human figure is the inspiration, starting point, and measure of all things in my artwork. In earlier works I have represented life-size figures and larger than life body parts. My artwork is a celebration of life. As in much of the artwork that we have from antiquity, my work is also a memorial to those who have died. In our modern time, most of us are familiar with photographic images of global war, natural disasters, and human suffering. In a sense every time that I combine groups of bodies, groups of heads, or use any human references, I memorialize and celebrate the lives of those victims and also the survivors. The human figures in my sculptures are represented as alive, not dead, and they occupy a level of existence that celebrates humanity and togetherness even in times of great tragedy and terror.
Eve + Bowie are artists Eve Biddle and Bowie Zunino working as a collaborative team, creating relational, community-oriented, participatory events. edible sculptures and temporary tattoos engage the viewer through eating and wearing. These absurd and intimate experiences of consuming or physically handling the art create common bonds between participants. through conversation and private thought we cause people to question and expand their perceptions with the firm belief that challenging the way people think can bring about social awareness and change.
We will be creating and exhibiting the project Temporary Vitals. We began working with women who have had their thyroids removed. We created temporary tattoos of drawings made of thyroids and asked the women to wear the “temporary vital” on their necks where their thyroid used to be. We photographed their necks and then presented the photographs along with temporary tattoos so that viewers could apply the tattoos to themselves and each other.
We will be expanding the project to the entire endocrine system, and designing new interactive materials and distribution models for learning. Each major gland in the endocrine system is integral to our bodies but most people do not where they are or what they do.
Eve + Bowie, along with Elan Bogarin created the Wassaic Project, an annual event of free art, music, dance, performance and camping in Wassaic, NY.
Recently I am interested in the irony and the contrast between fragility of prints on paper and concrete architectural elements. These represent vulnerable human and monumental layers of history. I would like to continue combining installation and prints but extend to experimental display of my prints using not only interior environment but also urban surroundings.
The body not only acts as a container of my soul but also leads my minds and thoughts into various investigations. My body is both outward and inward, and it is also a widely open “site.” My works present scenarios of the imagination regarding bodily experiences. I use hand waxed Korean paper exploring layers of selfhood and markings of memories. The layered waxed papers mimic both the vulnerability of the body and the strength of selfness.
I tie thread endlessly. It is a natural act. I unconsciously start tying it and then my purpose becomes clear. Metaphorically I see thread as female. This is partly because thread is used for sewing, which is considered women’s work. Thread plays the role of connecting separate parts. Extending the width and length of my work mirrors how our lives succeed from our great ancestors to our grandchildren, and from the past to the present.
The thoughts, speech and behavior which define my character are largely formed in my inner world. This inner world has been formed and affected by the spirits of my parents, ancestors and Korean heritage. Everything is affected by everything else. This is a reflection of life and the urge to live.
A Room of One’s Own is a site specific installation I will work on, a space formed by thread. Although the space created with thread is not completely separated from the studio space, it shows woman’s sensibility of her own space.
I want to make a book. Another one. Bigger. The pages disambiguated, not bound. Hung. Handled. A maze. I am the mouse. You too. Follow my life. Left turn after adolescence. And meet me now. I will be making a book that dismantles book, that alters the surface which is read. Inter/feres with the act of reading. These pages, graphic. Novel. An artist’s book. Yes, really. Art. I swear! Real art processes will be used! Drawing! Photographs! Alternative means of printing! I mean it! I will im/prove myself! I am a real artist! I have skills! And ideas! I will use them together!
The community. I am around educators. All of the time. Not artists. And while I am working with kids to become artists, they still struggle with critique. I need the access to conversation, reflection, constructive critique. Plus, I really don’t want to flesh out autobiographical stuff with 17 year olds. I need the immersive experience which re-orients the creative process that happens by being in a location associated with artmaking.
Previous projects and books I have made are small, precious, quick-put-away-the-knife-and-oh-dear-the-expensive-paper-too size. I have made work which begins dialogue, which pursues a question, and resists an answer. I have made work which creeps into public spaces, that whispers: bookmarks in the library, rubber bands at the post office, photographs which document the body politic. With this project, I want to make a book which says “Let us stop keeping too much information. Let pages be released of their responsibility as narrators, and instead simply bear witness.”
All my sculpture and drawings are embedded with language. Codes, such as Braille or Morse, take possession of an object to create an opaque, tactile art containing hidden messages. Braille pegs and alternating colors communicate a verbal content accessible to a few (the blind and telegraph operators) but the code influences and structures the form as a whole.
During the residency, I will develop three projects: interactive Braille block installations, sculpture embedded with coded language, and a series of large-scale conditional text drawings. For the interactive piece, I will make a set of custom-designed Braille blocks and invite blind and sighted participants to make a large rhizomatic constructions that looks something like a cross between a Scrabble, Tinkertoys and Braille. I will continue to embed language and information in objects, and will experiment with other materials in combination with found wood. I will also be working on a series of large Morse code drawings that respond to a text according to a series of instructions.
“People today are constantly on the move. We exist in a time influenced by technology, one of bigger, faster and more. Western culture is best described, by the gas station chain slogan of Mobil “on the run”. Constantly inundated with massive amounts of information, people have grown to process information at amazingly high speeds. Through this constant state of mass organized confusion that we all live in; I wait for a break in time, a moment of peace, a chance to rest and clear my head so that I can separate my agendas from societies.
I am interested in the notion of freedom defined by Webster as the quality or state of being free. My work is derived from personal observations, and is dependant on my need to physically interact with materials, and the world around me.”
Ryan will be creating a new body of sculptural work with interactive aspects influenced by the larger context of Newark.
I think of cameras, along with photographs, as cultural artifacts. In the same way that an anthropologist can look at jewelry or clothing to learn about the culture that created those things, the design of a camera and the photos it takes can tell us about the culture that created them. Stripped of its cultural history a “camera” is simply an enclosed object with a hole in one side through which light enters. As such, the camera predates photography by thousands of years. With these factors of origin, evolution, and technology as a starting point, my work asks the question: “what would photography look like if it had grown out of a different aesthetic tradition?”
The photos I make explore the representation of space, time, and narrative through a panoramic style. Using a specially modified camera I shoot directly onto long rolls of color slide-film. The image fills the entire film-strip, without any frame breaks, looking much like a photographic scroll. The strips of slide-film, which can be up to 100-ft long, are displayed on light-boxes. The long horizontal strips of film serve as both as a measure of the dimensions of the subject and also as a record of the subjects movement over time.
I will be designing and constructing sets, choreographing movements for dancers, lighting the scenes and photographing them. I am aiming towards a work that is in the range of 6 feet tall by 20-40 feet wide.
“I am interested in the idea of knowledge and in particular how relative it can be to the time and circumstances in which it was generated. I am fascinated in the conflation of objective and subjective information as a way of developing systems for understanding archetypes, a way to develop systems to identify what ‘normal’ in any given set of circumstances. My recent practice has been concerned with the interaction of science and art. Trained as a painter and printmaker, I now focus primarily on paper based practice. I create large format installations using many media – acrylic, oil, watercolor, enamel, glass, felt and fabric. I am interested particularly in the ephemeral nature of my work. It is pinned or nailed to the wall, and can be reconstituted in many different ways.
Using a quasi-scientific approach, I would like to work on a project to investigate the hidden, elusive and frequently culturally derived meanings for people, places and things. I suspect that my project will not aim to result in concrete conclusions, but rather to confirm the impossibility of ever really knowing anything. In particular I am interested in investigating the phenomenon of natural history. The study of the natural world was an obsession for both scientists and lay people in the 1800s. After the release of Darwin’s Origin of the Species in 1859, arguments raged either way that the process of evolution was evidenced in natural specimens. At the time, natural history represented a way of colonizing foreign lands. This occurred though rigorous and ‘scientific’ documentation (with the implication of objective, rational, impartial mannerisms) of specimens that were specific to certain places. The burgeoning scientific world and specifically studies of physiognomy, neuroscience, biology, created domains for the classification of people by new means, their physical existence became a way to view their inevitable temperament. Through these means a person could be characterized as a weak character through their physique, morally lacking through the shape of their nose, or prone to monthly insanity through their possession of a uterus.”
Anonda will use her time as an Aferro resident to create a large wall based installation that evokes a sense of chaos rather than order, utilizing essential discourses particular to visual and written natural history propaganda to demonstrate the utter confusion rather than clarity that results from conflicting scientific and social discourses.
“Stories are written, and in my case, cut. I invent cities, worlds and situations. They are memories, associations of words, ideas, observations and thoughts that unfold in improbable juxtapositions. Each observer makes his or her own story in this accumulation of real or imaginary lives to remember the past and foresee the future. Whether automatic writing or premeditated scenes, images pass through words. The creative inspiration comes from a text, a poem, or from a concept that I reduce to a mere title, or an amalgam of deformed words. Part of the pleasure is finding words that are identical in French and in English: word play, translation add complexity and meaning.
In my graphic style, windows are used not to see out but in. The cutting blade traces labyrinths and poetic meandering. Shadows suggest danger but also opportunities for new adventures.”
Beatrice is currently completing two new works, 30 feet long, based on the fiction of Italo Calvino.
Rodney will work to create arts performances and arts education programs for the community, such as staged readings of new and published works by local and national playwrights, and educational workshops in theatre that will utilize Gallery Aferro’s visual arts programming. In collaboration with Playwrights Theatre of NJ, he will enable local actors to present the life stories of senior citizens from Newark. In partnership with Passage Theatre of Trenton, adolescent actors will do a staged reading of an anti-gang piece.
His innovative approach creates spaces that are truly welcoming public forums, as well as more private environments for experimentation and sharing.
Norene’s work combines video, sculpture and installation.
Aphrodite Project: Platforms is an interactive artwork that combines the rich mythology of Aphrodite, the priestesses/prostitutes of ancient Greece, with the advertising and safety concerns of contemporary sex workers in the streets, providing technological access to people for whom it would not normally be available. The prototype sandals utilize the latest wireless and GPS technology in order to ensure safety while working. The sandal prototype are embedded with an LCD screen, GPS receiver, radio beacon, speakers and wireless capacity. They are also customizable.
In addition to continuing her highly community-oriented work with the Aphrodite Project, Norene plans to create a new series of drawings that extend her more individualized fine-art practice.
Individuals living with developmental, physical, or mental disabilities will be creating a large-scale sculptural installation to be exhibited at Walsh Gallery as One Breath, an “encompassing, organically-formed fabric environment. The floors will offer drifts of upholstered seating options, colored lighting will reflect the motions of visitors, multi-tonal sound will subtly drift through the space and the translucent walls will reveal the images of many people’s ideas of healing space.”
She will begin by gathering donated and/or recycled fabrics and inviting groups of people to visit and create their contribution to the piece. She will be fabricating these elements into walls, as well as creating the floors, ceiling and foam pockets. The supporting structure will be created with found bamboo that will need to be soaked and shaped.
Margaret Murphy was born in Baltimore, Maryland in the working class neighborhood of Hampden. Living now in Jersey City, NJ for eleven years she claims it reminds her of Baltimore. Much of Margaret’s work over the years has been influenced by working class beliefs and values, feminism, kitsch, religion and politics.
Ryan’s first project at Aferro will be the construction of a miniature wooden oil tower (approximately 9’ tall) with 5-7 interchangeable platforms. On each platform a basin, made from beeswax, will house frozen sculptures made from casein paint. The forms of these paint-sculptures will resemble gas cans.
His work offers a “critique of materialist philosophy by making the unseen incarnate and dematerializing objects found within the immediate environment. The violence inherent in the depreciation of visualization is called into question in order to strategize new ways of being…”
In recent projects, vessels (milk cartons, wine bottles, etc.) derived from the artist’s own consumptive practices have been cast in frozen casein and encaustic and displayed as disappearing still lifes in the streets of New York City. As the sculptures dissolve, they begin to suggest monochromatic paintings, transforming the dross of the world into a subject of meditation.
“This act of recycling underlies the ambivalent relationship between object and image. As the ubiquitous, commercial vessel loses its formal status and cultural significance, it simultaneously becomes material for a less distinct, yet more complex, referent.”
Irys Schenker’s work unites architectural concepts with craft traditions.
“Cardboard, yarn, thread, ribbon, fabric and other quotidian materials combine to explore how we relate to spaces and structures. I depict subtle moments of introspection within places that have traces of human inhabitance. I think of my work as a perpetual quest for home.
My stitched window screen pieces are like contemporary samplers. They use the idea of the simulacrum, navigating the limitations of the screen’s grid to transform the original or copied image or model.
My new cardboard pieces are formed with an inquiry into concepts in Japanese and Modern architecture. “A House,” is a depiction of a domicile where the rooms are discrete suspended components. Travel snapshots appear out of windows and skylights.
Currently I am working on a series of life size free standing facade-like cardboard structures called “Destinations.”
Sara Wolfe’s abstract paintings reference a childlike sense of space. She will be working on murals within her studio space utilizing rejected mixed house paint from the local Home Depot and independent hardware stores, in a process that she believes “ties local residents to the mural.”
“As infants learning to draw make figures with twenty arms, they express a new awareness of their limbs rather than a representational observation. My act of painting similarly involves capturing our physical experience of existing in the world, and memories of those heightened moments of awareness.
My interest lies in memory: how we re-create, embellish and merge it with other experiences. I reference a physical experience from a moment ago and a tangential childhood memory in the same image. My work ultimately reveals a sense of play and a longing to re-create that state of innocence.”
Gianluca Bianchino is a painter whose large-scale series, Spatial, has expanded to drawing and video.
He writes: “Nature is my platform of study. Specifically, I work with telescopic images of celestial bodies (galaxies, nebulaes and planets), and panoramic/satellite images of extreme conditions of our planet’s landscape (hurricanes, tornados and volcanic eruptions).
My paintings, which are crafted in oil, most often consist of dyptics and tryptics incorporating both abstract and representational images. The use of dyptics and tryptics in formal compositions is influenced by religious art, strongly present through my Catholic upbringing in Southern Italy.”
Bianchino’s intention is to evoke both macro and microcosmic space, causing the viewer to reflect upon their own sense of placement, and to question conventional notions of linear space/time.
He will be creating studies for further additions to the series.
Kevin Darmanie, born in Trinidad, is a longtime Newark resident who makes paintings, prints, and comics. He was the co-curator of 2006’s Black Rock. During his residency Darmanie has created a series of oversize comic pages that each functions independently but can be read as part of an ongoing narrative. The series features an alter ego, Kedar, in a minutely observed city not dissimilar to Newark, caught between neglect and gentrification.
Darmanie has also continued to work on a series of paintings of varying scale, based on features of his own body. The series is suggestive of the contribution of historical lineage, as well as the idiosyncrasies of personal appearance, to an ongoing identity.
Last Night I Kissed an Angel (off Rt. 21)
Working in mixed media, Jerry Grant is a self-educated visual artist and performance poet whose signature murals can be found in large urban centers including Newark, New York City, Boston, and London England. He works in canvas, metal, wood, fabric and wire, constantly.
Recent exhibitions include My Brother’s Thread: A Retrospective of Fiber Works by and for Men of the African Diaspora curated by Harlem Needle Arts at Lincoln Center, and But I was cool…, a three man show at Aljira. Jerry has been a fixture of the Newark arts scene for the past 15 years. As an installation artist, unofficial and official mentor to young artists, entrepreneur and MC, Jerry’s activities and creations can be seen as a single unified expression of his perspective. The viral quality of his imagery allows it to move between the street and the gallery, as visitors to his exhibitions recognize design motifs they may have seen on the back of a jacket or on a wall years ago.
According to the artist, “In every individual lies a wall of expression and culture; the acknowledgment of the artists that came before stimulates the construction of new walls that are greater than their struggles, pain and shortcomings.”
Reviewing the Aljira exhibition, critic Holland Cotter wrote in the Times, “It is Mr. Gant who offers the most abstract and positive take… in the form of a mediating remedy through art. For the occasion, he built a thin, high throne made of plywood and equipped with halo-like headphones and a crown. The throne, at once regal and fragile, is actually designed as a listening station.
Julia’s First Dream
Sebastián Patané Masuelli
Sebastian Patane Masuelli’s (Argentina, 1978) installations and actions are recognizable by their startling degree of beauty, and by minimal arrangements suggestive of a complex thought process. He attempts to make visible connections between the physical limitations of objects, and their imaginative possibilities. His work has been seen recently in The Mistake I Make is To Try and Think, a solo show at 58 Gallery in Jersey City, NJ and El Museo del Bario’s S Files in New York, NY.
Founder of the Fease art collective, which took over abandoned storefronts with performance and exhibitions, he has been the instigator for many art events in the tri-state area since 1999.
Ana de Portela has described herself as a sculptor who produces video and performances as well as someone who writes and motivates.
She has worked yearlong volunteer commitments in Paraguay through Amigos de las America and as Director for Video-in-the Community through Peace Corps/VISTA, organizing “community related spectacles” in inner city barrios such as outdoor movie nights.
She has found the space for her own art making with residencies at the PS. 1 Clocktower and at the International Women’s Foundation Die Hogue, as one of 3 Americans invited to Germany, along with Laura Cottingham and the Guerrilla Girls. After her time at Gallery Aferro, she will travel to Prague to the Center for Alternative Culture at the Meetfactory by invitation of David Cerny. Her most recent solo exhibtion was at Bronx Haven Arts in 2006.
Jesse Wright (American / Jamaican, 1974) lives and works in Jersey City, NJ. His work relies heavily on a background in painting and design. It often incorporates materials found while walking on journeys between Jersey City and New York City (what’s left of messages found in ripped posters and half painted over billboards, clipped newspaper headlines lying there on the subway’s floor, the pop-up windows, textbooks, Scriptures, and intuition). Switching technique to reflect the many ways in which we communicate and the layers of meanings. These elements are re-purposed to reflect a spiritual connection underlying daily experience and observation. Traveling internationally gave a respect for iconography that transcends language. Working in technologies gave an awareness of the various ways we are able to communicate and how fragmented the messages can become.
Recent work has involved large scale (mixedmedia) paintings referencing the chaos of the “Book of Revelation” along side the peace of the “Transfiguration” found in scripture.
This approach is carried over to (if not inspired by) several “books”. During a difficult time the artist began to gather scraps of paper heading to and from work to arrange in the evening as an immediate outlet to record and collage random scraps of conversations, thoughts, and found papers. These arrangements evolved into several books. The processess of gathering and arranging carried over into large scale paintings as the energy could no longer be contained within the space of the page. They eventually begin to develop an “arc” of a story and often evolve from slap-dash collage to full-blown paintings / compositions.
During his time at Aferro, Wright plans to move from the “wall to the floor” to explore stand alone objects and sculpture, and to work with materials like asphalt, plaster, and tar.