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Rachel Perry Welty's First Museum Solo Exhibition Opens at deCordova
Since graduating from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston in 1999, Welty has become well-known for appropriating the material that annoyingly and sometimes mistakenly, inundates our lives as her subject, including spam emails, wrong number voice messages, receipts, twist ties, fruit stickers, Facebook updates, and even Muzak.

LINCOLN, MA.- DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum presents the first solo exhibition of the conceptual artist Rachel Perry Welty opening January 29, 2011. This exhibition–her first large-scale museum solo show–will include Welty’s major works in drawing, sculpture, collage, installation, video, photography, and social media–some created especially for this exhibition. Welty’s precisely-crafted, colorful, and beautiful work often uses humor to address a wide variety of issues including, consumerism, suburbia, narcissism, information overload, language, the fleeting nature of experience, the passage of time, and ultimately, life and death. Welty takes daily life as her subject, incorporating the mundane and the extraordinary in equal measure. Mixing a Minimalist aesthetic with Pop humor, Welty’s artworks uncover the poetic elements in the everyday. The exhibition will present a number of works created by Welty over the past decade, and will also include a new series of large-scale color photographs titled, Lost in my Life. The artist will also be installing four site-oriented works including a starburst shaped installation of used twist ties (New and Improved), a drawing made out of fruit stickers (Ripe Now), a 40 foot modernist zip made of supermarket circular cut-outs (Product Line), and wallpaper made from collaged fruit stickers (Sticker Paper).

Nick Capasso, Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs says, “Over the past decade I have closely followed the progress of this artist’s work, and her remarkable rise through the ranks of the art world. I have been consistently impressed by both the breadth and depth of her work, and also by its sheer beauty. Very few artists receive major museum shows after just ten years of creative work, and I am thrilled and proud that Rachel is working with deCordova!”

Since graduating from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston in 1999, Welty has become well-known for appropriating the material that annoyingly and sometimes mistakenly, inundates our lives as her subject, including spam emails, wrong number voice messages, receipts, twist ties, fruit stickers, Facebook updates, and even Muzak. The Lost in my Life series are photographic self-portraits where the artist and her identity is almost totally obscured, lost amidst the “stuff,” the clutter of life. The sets for these photographs are densely packed with material recycled from previous drawings and sculptures, recording a material and personal art history. Nothing is too small or too trivial for Welty’s appropriation. From 2005 to 2009 Welty saved all the wrong number voice-messages on her answering machine. In the video, Karaoke Wrong Number (2005-2009), Welty lip syncs to this archived loop of “lost” messages while attempting to personify the caller. While Karaoke Wrong Number (2001-2004) is perhaps her most recognized work, deCordova will be displaying the second and most recent work in the series, Karaoke Wrong Number (2005-2009), which has yet to be seen in the Boston-area.

Welty is a collector who archives and reorganizes the material and experiences of day today life in poignant and visually surprising ways. For one of her seminal works,
Transcription/Medical Record #32-52-52-001 (645 pages) (2001-2002), Welty transcribed her son’s lengthy medical record onto 23 sheets of graph paper. By meticulously hand-writing each symbol and number into the individual squares, Welty rewrote, recoded, and according to the artist “reorganized the pain of an experience” through labor, language, and a Minimalist precision. Welty, like any worried parent, attempts to control the uncontrollable.

Welty’s interest in language, systems, and mapping links her works through various media. “My interests lie in language and the formation of meaning, how we consume, sort, process and sift information, and in the small moments of everyday,” she explained in a 2009 Art21 interview. Facebook provided the perfect platform to perform the banality of everyday rituals for a larger social network. In Rachel is (2009) Welty updated her Facebook status every minute of her waking hours on March 11, 2009. The one day performance was captured through screenshots of each status update, and a slideshow of the shots will be displayed on ten iPhones installed in the gallery.

While the artist is an avid collector of disposable minutiae like fruit stickers and breadbag tags, she also systematically deaccessions her possessions. Every day since October 5, 2005 Welty has selected an object to discard or “deaccession” (a museum term for the removal of objects from a permanent collection). Items eligible for discard range from ragged sweaters to stale nuts. Reflecting on the project Welty explained, “I am the curator of my own possessions.” For the installation of Deaccession Project at deCordova, the artist will install scans of the objects’ deaccession records, compiled by the artist, dating back to the project’s inception. For each day of the exhibition, the new deaccessioned object record-of-the-day will be scanned, printed, and added to the larger installation archive by museum staff, resulting in a 78 foot long installation.

“This exhibition is a wonderful example of the way deCordova supports local artists— from including young, emerging artists in the deCordova Biennial to exhibiting large solo shows of artists, like Rachel, who have established national reputations. For artists of every level to have a successful career in the arts, and for New England to benefit from their creativity and vision, these artists need galleries, collectors, and museums that support the their work. DeCordova is committed to doing just that in a meaningful way.”

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