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Artists alter objects to form eccentric new kitsch
Nick DeFord, The Hunt I, 2014. Hand-embroidery on found paper. Photo by Nick DeFord.

HOUSTON, TX.- This spring, Houston Center for Contemporary Craft presents Mixed and Mastered: Turntable Kitsch, an exhibition featuring the works of mixed-media artist and ceramic restorer, Debra Broz, and fiber artist, Nick DeFord. Turntable Kitsch explores the alteration and customization of the sentimental trinkets in our everyday lives. By mixing, sampling, and adding layers, the artists rework found tchotchkes. Like mastering a record to produce a polished sound, Broz and DeFord fine-tune their kitsch mementos for an exciting final effect.

Debra Broz began falling in love with small, unusual things while growing up in rural central Missouri. In her practice, she breaks apart second-hand porcelain animal figurines, combining the pieces to create ceramic oddities. Broz uses her ceramics-restoration techniques to dismantle, dissect, and recompose the found kitsch figurines as a means of investigating the effect of altered objects, especially those that were once valued and later discarded. Her seamless surgeries create works that humorously reflect irregularities in society and nature. Broz offers considerations about the power of kitsch and sentimentality by redirecting emotion from the object to the subject, creating a fantasy of emotion and the reassurance it provides the viewer. Her modifications disrupt that fantasy, and instead ask viewers to question the world around them.

Naming, categorizing, and mapping are common methods of understanding not only personal location, but also personal identity. Fiber artist Nick DeFord’s work questions the efficacy of that process, as well as the delicacy of the known world. With the use of traditional embroidery and stitching techniques, DeFord explores the visual culture of cartography, occult imagery, and geographical souvenirs. By disrupting these established visual systems, DeFord reveals a thin boundary between the known and the unknown. As his embroidery needle

pierces the surface of these familiar paper materials, he begins to physically alter the original understanding of the object. DeFord’s transformed game boards and maps deconstruct the objects’ initial interpretation of space and time and demonstrate the flexibility of an object’s meaning.

Debra Broz received her BFA from Maryville University, St. Louis, in 2003. She then moved to Austin, Texas, where she worked as a mixed-media artist, ceramics restorer, and visual-arts nonprofit director for eight years. In late 2013, she moved to Los Angeles, where she continues her artistic and restoration practices, and is an arts adviser and advocate.

Nick DeFord is an artist, art educator, and arts administrator. DeFord got his MFA in fibers from Arizona State University in 2008 and his BFA in drawing from the University of Tennessee in 2004. He has taught at both universities and is currently Program Director at the Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

Mixed and Mastered: Turntable Kitsch was curated by Hayley McSwain. McSwain began interning for the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft in the fall of 2014 and is currently the Programs Assistant. A Houston native, she received her BFA in Studio Art from The University of Texas at Austin in 2012, and spent several months travelling and working in Europe following commencement. McSwain previously worked as the Design Fellow for Project Row Houses and as the Visual Arts Assistant at Art League Houston.

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