For its show, (Residency): Process to Consumption, the city's arts arm, Create Denver, handed out empty four-foot-by-four-foot wooden boxes to a group of selected artists. They were asked to use the back as a canvas and the inside to build something. Some collaborated; others created alone. Tonight, the show opens at the McNichols Building (and closes July 27) offering a reange of themes: Laura Shill and Amber Codd offer up alternative representations of the female body; Jared Andreson mocks the age of entitlement and ownership; while Homare Ikeda addresses questions about creative origins, working with the audience to determine the content of his paintings.
In advance of tonight's opening, Westword reached to some of the artists to hear about their process and what they learned.
Laura Shill and Amber Cobb In our first collaboration, we conduct a formal study of the abject body using found and-or amassed objects. We focus on the abject, the breaking or stretching of the tenuous boundaries of the body as an inevitable and equalizing fact of the human experience. We offer it in this exhibition as an alternative to the idealized, predominantly female body as an object of beauty and commerce.
Drawing from the materials that we each use in our own individual practices, often intimate objects from the domestic sphere, like blankets or mattresses, we combine discarded found objects with amassed and tediously hand-worked objects. Through these works, we attempt to remove the female body from the pedestal that subjugates it and place it in relationship with all other human bodies that stretch, break, spill and ooze.
Jared Anderson I have personally challenged my normal approach to medium and mark-making with the residency. In my first vessel, using painter's tape, I use three large washes of blue: Yves Klein Blue, JayZ Blue and my own JDP Blue.
We live in the age of entitlement. Corporations stake claim of words. Institutions posses tag-lines. Artists own color. I am poking fun and having a laugh at this absurd idea.
I am further exploring absurdity by paying homage to Rindy Sam, the French woman who kissed a million dollar Cy Twombly oil painting. She was caught, fined $6400 and sent to good citizenship classes. What a laugh! I celebrate her endearing appreciation of a painting and the absurd reaction of the art world and authorities by inviting visitors to kiss my panel. Yes, kiss this painting please!
My last piece is a viewing of super-8 footage from my recent film. It is inspired by the short story, "To Build a Fire," by Jack London. It will be projected onto a panel and enshrined by a total of five 22-foot lodgepole pine used as a sculpture exploding from the piece. I have gone into the Colorado wilderness with my trusty hound to re-enact the happenings of the story and created a more psychedelic piece.
MJ Dowling I began the process with a piece I've been working on for some time, sketches and research. That one came together quickly. From there I have been completely lost for several weeks, not sure what to make with the other two panels, and wanting to respond to the inspiration of having the artists around me. So I did what I regularly do, and made dozens and dozens of sketches.
My sketches are mostly your traditional charcoal on paper; some are objects. Those objects included a boxing glove made of the painters tape the residency supplied and another includes toy gorillas. Those object sketches ended up in an installation which is something new for me, for sure. My final piece is still in process and will likely be until the show opens on Thursday. The main subject matter is a gorilla, which I seem to identify with at the moment.
The process of creating in this atmosphere has been incredible. I have found great inspiration in working with the other artists and surprisingly, from the viewers who came in and engaged us. I have made great connections and have several projects to follow up on as a result.
My only complaint about the situation is that I want more, more time with the artist's group, more work to create. I certainly hope the residency becomes a repeat program. It would be quite interesting to see another group of artists and how they take on the situation.
Read on for more from the artists of (Residency): Process to Consumption.
Donald Fodness I removed each vessel from the wall and consolidated them into a stage in which I constructed a portrait of the new pope. This portrait explores complexity and open-endedness with material and image symbol systems.
Pangloss Gravitron Part of the vision of the Pangloss Gravitron artist collective is to build relationships with other creatives that would open more expansive collaborative opportunities and a wider perspective. Cross-pollination of ideas between our members and with artists around us would allow for more impregnated thought and expressions.
With our inclusion in this residency project, conversations were sparked about the commonality between our works that had been drawn out in our previous shows together. We landed on humanist and animal imagery, and the term "humanimal", agreeing to focus our creative efforts toward exploring the complex relationship between humans and animals, the perceived similarities and differences between the two related forms of life and the ways in which human perception and actions impact that relationship.
Due to the nature of the McNichols Building, as an art space that doubles as an event space, we discussed that the general viewer was as likely to be attending a wedding as they were to be art enthusiasts, and that children and families might be more likely to visit the space than your average commercial gallery.
We began brainstorming about the size of the space we were working in and that an interactive element, that incorporates the viewer as the glue between art pieces, would be ideal. Contemporary art projects that we found particularly inspiring or engaging to all age groups, such as Tony Oursler's project, "Zero" at the DAM, were springboards to our installation. We thought the idea of projecting a face onto a sculptural object offered interesting possibilities in the context of public engagement and interactivity.
(Residency): Process to Consumption" requires each artist to incorporate three panels into their designated space. Pangloss Gravitron was treated as one artist, pushing us into our most collaborative project to date. We decided to assign each panel a roll in the process. The first panel would function as the projection source, incorporating a camera. The second panel would be designed to house the projector, and the third panel would function as the projection surface.
As the project evolved, we adapted our ideas to suit the technology and the space. While the element containing the camera was being conceived, it became apparent that we were not utilizing the panel, but suggesting that we attach a stand-alone design to the panel as afterthought. This opened up the third panel to use as a conceptual piece incorporating some of the philosophical underpinnings of the human-animal connection.
Our interactions with fellow residents and visitors to the space while we were in process have been the gift of our summer. Ad astra!
Homare Ikeda When I received three vessels (panels) for the project, my immediate response was to approach each vessel with different intentions. Keeping "Process" as a main focus, I came up with the idea that one vessel will be an open collaboration. People that come to my area will choose a spot on the picture plane for me to paint. Some decision-making power is given to the participants, so that I become a tool or an interpreter. The second vessel was a collaborative piece. It also involved the actual act of painting by the participants. More importantly, the participants set the beginning stage of this painting. The last vessel was solely done by me. The audience participates only by looking.
The process has been challenging, interesting, fun and meaningful. I learned that another person's decision is as good as mine or better than mine sometimes.
Check out the artwork tonight, from 6 to 10 p.m. at the McNichols Building, 144 West Colfax Avenue; admission is free. The show runs through July 27.
Follow me on Twitter: @kyle_a_harris
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