ReObjectification: Art + Object is a group show of work by forty artists in all media featuring artists who directly reference existing art, objects or found materials that inspire their artwork. The exhibit explores the relationship between the source material and how that information is translated, recontextualized or presented. Both two and three dimensional formats including photography, sculpture and painting are presented in the exhibition.
The exhibition at Ferrin Gallery
, organized by Leslie Ferrin and Julia Dixon, features gallery and invited artists in a context that reflects dominant common themes in contemporary art. While some artists created specific artworks for this exhibition, all were selected for their known use of found object or appropriated imagery. For those who work directly with found materials, their work also serves to express social values of recycling, reuse and green planet environmentalism. For artists who are directly referencing images or concepts from art and decorative art history, their work falls into post modernist theory in which the original is upended through interpretation.
The gallery chose to explore the theme of ReObjectification drawing its own inspiration from major survey shows of recent years. Trashformations, a traveling exhibition from 2005-8 featured several of the artists in the gallery show. In 2007 two major inaugural survey shows opened at New York Citys newest museums, the New Museum of Contemporary Art and the Museum of Arts and Design. Both institutions chose to survey contemporary use of found materials from a conceptual perspective with Unmonumental: The Object in the 21st Century in 2007 and at MAD, Second Lives: Remixing the Ordinary.
By preserving the integrity of worn surface and texture, the artists who use actual objects or materials reference preexisting history or function. Sculptors Gordon Chandler, Ven Voisey and mixed media two dimensional artists Donald Clark, Julian Halpern, David Poppie and Michael Zelehoski use actual found objects such as scrap metal, discarded furniture, and artist materials to conceptualize and build their artwork. While the original objects maintain identity, by re-presenting the original in a collage format or flattened, these four artists create two dimensional art from three dimensional objects. Boris Bally uses road signs to create chairs, tables and other recognizable objects that feature universal messages.
Decorative art and ceramic history is the direct inspiration for sculptors Dean Adams, Chris Antemann and Sue Tirrell, each of whom take a style or period and reinterpret it using contemporary social or autobiographical content. Antemanns Tea Party is her latest major sculpture from her Battle of the Britches series in which typical gender roles are reversed using Meissen style figurines.
Interplay between two and three dimensional art form another category in this show. Artists who sculpt in three dimensions using a two dimensional historic painting include sculptors Cynthia Consentino (Dürer), Kelly Garrett Rathbone (Velázquez), Myungjin Kim (16th century, Georg Flegel), and Gerit Grimm (18th century, Gérard).
Architecture is the source material for several artists including Christa Assad, who creates teapots that reference former industrial buildings such as Pittsfields GE transformer plant and wood burning facilities in the Pacific Northwest. Emmett Leader uses architectural form and decoration from Eastern European wooden synagogues as the basis of his Judaic objects and Roy Superior pays homage to Italian shrines in his series of constructed miniatures based on favorite foods from the region.
Other artists whose artwork pays homage to recognizable existing artwork is Berkshire based painter Maggie Mailer who worked from the Berkshire Museums collection of 18th century landscape paintings during the summer of 2009 in their first resident artist program. This research forms the basis of her upcoming solo exhibition The Balloonists which will open at the gallery August 2010. Mara Superior found inspiration in a Saul Steinberg New Yorker cover from fall 2008 by creating a sculpted version of Piggy Bankers, and Shannon Trudell superimposed herself alongside idealized males in fine graphite drawings of her nude figure posing with masters of renaissance sculpture in her Sovrapposizione Series.
Ceramicists Jason Walker (motorcycle parts and Seattle skyline), Kurt Weiser (globe painted with images of alchemy, geology and natural history), Red Weldon Sandlin (book and cups interpreting childrens literature including Peter Pan and Hansel & Gretel) each use their objects as a surfaces for painted narrative content.
Actual objects form the basis for ceramic sculpture by Michael Boroniec, who has been sculpting the uniforms and equipment of a recently deployed American soldier, and Sergei Isupov, whose large scale busts enhanced with painted imagery reference the aesthetics and meaning of phrenology heads.
Photography as a medium for ReObjectification is used by Raymon Elozua who abstracts still life compositions of found objects with use of mirrors and depth of focus, and Lucy Feller who puts a humorous twist on iconic images through digital photo collage in her recent series Wicked Fairy Tales.