NEW YORK, NY.- Arts+Leisure
is presenting Somewhere, a collaborative exhibition of work by Jamie Powell and Joe Nanashe. In their first exhibition as a couple, the two navigate the vicissitudes of geography and place, modes of labor, and the cycles of experimentation and failure that underscore the artistic process. The exhibitions title, drawn from various sources including Over the Rainbow sung by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz and Tom Waits cover of Somewhere from West Side Story, reflects feelings of longing, desire, and hope, as well as Nanashes perception of an American delusion, a particularly trenchant observation given the urgent realities of displacement endemic to contemporary America. 1
Raised in West Virginia and Ohio, respectively, Powell and Nanashe embrace the dynamics of materiality, socialization, and labor intrinsic to their hometowns. Inspired by the humble culture of reuse, repurposing, patching and stitching that defined her upbringing in an Appalachian family of factory and farm workers, Powells work, formed of dyed and painted canvas, complicates conventional distinctions between art and craft and calls attention to the expressive potential of domestic work. The deconstructed appearance of her works, which hover in between mediums, highlight the central importance of physical manipulations of fabric to her practice. Free of illusion or trompe loeil devices, Powells work manifests a playful open-endedness that encourages free association. In Somewhere and Girl, she imbues imagery that is at once archetypal and allusion-rich with a physical immediacy that dissolves the barrier between audience and art; for example, the exaggerated braid of the latter, festooned with lavender bows, recalls the fable of Goldilocks while simultaneously beckoning to be pulled.
Hailing from Akron, Ohio, Nanashe hones in on the post-industrial landscape and social environment embodied by his hometown, exploring themes of repetition, frivolity, and nonconformity in his taskdriven work. While Powell revisits a culture of reclamation and reuse, Nanashes work documents the ruthless efficiency of factory labor, transforming everyday utilitarian objects into vehicles for his parable-like meditations on the futility and emptiness of failing labor structures. In Descent, Nanashe builds upon the formal and allusive qualities of the ladder, subverting (literally and metaphorically) its symbolic aura of progress and advancement into a bleak study of uselessness. In Nanashes own words:
Ladders serve as a symbol for knowledge, progress through space and time. To climb a ladder is a literal and figurative ascension. Flipped and stacked it collapses into itself, runs into the ground, or acts like a serpent eating its own tail. Knowledge leads to disaster.2
Nanashes work thrives in the gray areas, deftly avoiding absolutes of meaning. In Cloud, the artist appears to reaffirm the ladders usual associations with upward mobility and enlightenment; however, though it leads to a cloud, it is a distinctly terrestrial one, fashioned from tarp and canvas, revealing the currents of unpredictability, sarcasm and black humor that underpin Nanashes practice.
Joe Nanashe was born in Akron, Ohio. The citys post-industrial landscape and emphasis on manual labor influenced the repetitive, taskdriven nature of his early work. He received his BFA from the University of Akron in 2003 and his MFA from Rutgers in 2005.
His videos have been shown in multiple editions of the Chicago (05, 06, 07), New York (06, 08), Boston (07, 08), and Lausanne (05, 06, 07) Underground Film Festivals. His sculptures, drawings, photographs, paintings, video and sound works have been exhibited nationally and internationally including group exhibitions at Garis & Hahn, Freight + Volume, Mulherin Gallery, Jim Kempner Fine Art, IPCNY (New York); Eric Firestone, QF Gallery, Islip Art Museum, Parrish Art Museum (Hamptons & Long Island); Fresh Window, Airplane, the Laundromat, English Kills Gallery (Brooklyn); and internationally at Museum of Humor and Satire, Bulgaria; Kieznle Art Foundation, Berlin; 3331 Arts Chiyoda, Tokyo; Coexstence Gallery, Russia. In 2015, Joe was a Finalist for the New York Foundation for the Arts Artist Fellowship in Interdisciplinary Art.
Recent solo exhibitions include American Vanitas Victori+Mo, Brooklyn; Color Field Painting Studies I, II, III Garis & Hahn, New York. Upcoming exhibitions include a solo exhibition A Small Plot of Land LMAK Gallery, New York; two-person exhibition Somewhere Arts+Leisure, New York. Currently, Joe Nanashe lives and works in Queens, New York.
Jamie Powell was born and raised in West Virginia. For over a decade New York City has been her home. Jamie received her MFA and the Paul Robeson Emerging Artist Award from Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University in 2006. She has exhibited extensively over the last ten years including: FLUXspace in Philadelphia, Soil Gallery in Seattle, Momenta Art in Brooklyn, Garis & Hahn and Lesley Heller Workspace in New York. She has received grants from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Vermont Studio Center and Pratt Institute. She is a faculty member at Pratt Institute and a Teaching Artist for the Studio In A School Foundation as well as co-teaches the Lincoln Center Summer Intensive Boot Camp. Currently, she lives and works in Queens, New York where in 2014 she Co-founded an artist-run studio and project space called Reservoir Art Space.
1 Somewhere Catalog Essay, Eileen Jeng Lynch