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The nature of sound and form illustrated in two new exhibitions at Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts
Alison O’Daniel: Heavy Air, 2019. Installation view. Courtesy of Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts. Photo: Colin Conces.

OMAHA, NEB.- Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts opened two new solo exhibitions, Alison O’Daniel: Heavy Air and Lui Shtini: Tempos. The exhibitions will be on view through June 15, 2019.

Alison O’Daniel: Heavy Air
Alison O’Daniel is a visual artist working across the mediums of film, performance, sculpture and installation. Structured as a call-and-response between these mediums, she creates cinema, performances, sound-dampening textiles, sculptures and large-scale installations that intend to visualize what it means to not have complete access to sound. Through collaborations with composers and musicians as well as the experiences of deaf and hard of hearing friends regarding sound, O’Daniel’s work aims at building a visual, aural and haptic vocabulary as a means of storytelling.

In Heavy Air, O’Daniel continues her investigations into what it means to not have full access to sound as well as transfer this experience to a hearing audience. This exhibition places itself at the center of these explorations—highlighting the ambient sounds that literally hang in the air. How can one translate these into a physical or spoken language? O’Daniel engages this topic through new works comprised of acoustic felt hangings hung with contact microphones and sound absorbing materials like carpet pad and heavy curtains, a neon work of hands signing THE CHANGING SKY and sound clips of the room tones of several deaf and hard of hearing friends around the world. The exhibition also includes excerpts from O’Daniel’s film The Tuba Thieves, an ongoing collaboration with composers, deaf athletes, musicians and performers that began in the wake of tuba robberies from Los Angeles schools in 2012. Through a variety of storylines related to both the absence of and access to sound, The Tuba Thieves integrates the story of marching band students reconciling this missing sound with the 1952 premiere of John Cage’s 4’33”, a deaf drummer and the last punk show at the Deaf Club in San Francisco in 1979.

Alison O’Daniel (b. 1979, Miami, FL) works in Los Angeles, CA. She received her BFA from Cleveland Institute of Art in 2003 and an MFA from the University of California, Irvine in 2010. She has exhibited, screened and performed at the Ford Theater with FLAX French Los Angeles Exchange (2018); Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, Los Angeles, CA (2017); Art in General, New York, NY (2016); Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA (2016); The Drawing Center, New York, NY (2016); Top-kino, Vienna, Austria (2016); Centre d’Art Contemporain Passerelle, Brest, France (2015); Aspen Art Museum, Aspen, CO (2016); LA Louver, Los Angeles, CA (2013); and Samuel Freeman Gallery, Los Angeles, CA (2013). She has completed artist residencies at Wexner Center for the Arts (2014), Fine Arts Work Center (2012–13), Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (2007), and others. She has received several awards and honors, including a Creative Capitol Fellowship (2019), Rema Hort Mann Foundation Grant (2014), Center for Cultural Innovation Grant (2013), Art Matters Grant (2012), Franklin Furnace Fund Fellowship (2012) and California Community Foundation Emerging Artist Fellowship (2011).

Lui Shtini: Tempos
Lui Shtini’s process translates abstracted thoughts into two-dimensional forms, birthing the intangible. In Tempos, Shtini presents a range of paintings and drawings created over the past four years. The 25 works are installed in the galleries with their peers—grouped together by series. Each of Shtini’s works—both drawings and paintings—are shrouded in a layer of mystery, yet the work is full of hints. With his organic forms conjuring up imagery related to the body, to matter seen under a microscope, to what might even be seen deep into the cosmos or the inside of an atom, they are simultaneously filled with drama as well as the absence of it.

Shtini works on the drawings and paintings simultaneously, and one can see how the anthropomorphic forms in the drawings on view lead into the suite of new larger paintings, all created in the last year. His painting technique engages his surfaces through layers of underpainting and brushstrokes while his drawings extend how one might look at charcoal and graphite. The undulation between macro and micro within the work creates a tempo. While past works are more architecturally related to the human figure, these expand in form, volume, color and texture—cementing themselves with a quiet violence that penetrates the psyche.

Lui Shtini (b. 1978 Kavaje, Albania) lives in Brooklyn, NY. He attended the Academy of Arts in Tirana, Albania from 1997 to 2000. He immigrated to the United States in the early 2000s and attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 2007. Shtini has held solo exhibitions at Lambdalambdalambda, Prishtina, Kosovo (2018); Corbett vs. Dempsey, Chicago, IL (2017, 2014); Kate Werble Gallery, New York, NY (2016, 2013); Cherry and Martin, Los Angeles, CA (2015); and van de Weghe Fine Art, New York, NY (2013, 2009). His work has been included in group exhibitions at Grice Bench, Los Angeles, CA; James Fuentes Gallery, New York, NY; Andréhn-Schiptjenko, Stockholm, Sweden; Galerie Sultana, Paris, France; Jessica Silverman, San Francisco, CA; t293, Rome, Italy; Nicelle Beauchene Gallery, New York, NY; Kate Werble Gallery, New York, NY; Corbett vs. Dempsey, Chicago, IL; Steven Zevitas Gallery, Boston, MA; Bureau, New York, NY; Jack Hanley Gallery, New York, NY; Creon Gallery, New York, NY; Peter Fengesten Gallery, Pace University, New York, NY; and Know More Games, Brooklyn, NY. He was granted a NYFA painting fellowship in 2010 and was the 2014 artist resident at the Sharpe-Walentas studio program in Dumbo, Brooklyn, NY.

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