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Wave Pool features the work of lens-based artist Katherine Cunningham
Katherine Cunningham Utopia, Ultrachrome print, text panel, 20.75 x 28.5 inches, 2016.

CINCINNATI, OH.- Wave Pool is hosting Utopia Remains, an exhibition featuring the work of lens-based artist, writer and educator Katherine Cunningham, in their upstairs “Locker Room” gallery space. Displayed alongside more than a dozen framed photographs are Cunningham’s meticulously researched supportive text, which provide the location, duration, affiliation, size, and reason for the inevitable demise of the idealistic communities that once lived in the spaces the artist photographs. Utopia Remains opened to the public in conjunction with Andrew McGinley’s Gathering Space exhibition on Saturday August 26, 2017 and will be on view until mid-September.

Artist’s Statement: For the first half of the nineteenth century, Ohio was a hotbed of utopian activity, both secular and religious. Ohio was the frontier, and there were some very serious reactions to industrialization, persecution, and general awakenings (great and otherwise) at play. These photographs represent my search for the residue of these communal experiments. Towns like Zoar, Ohio have preserved their heritage into a tourist attraction, but most have been completely wiped from the historical map. It was only through the help of some very dedicated local historians, and the archives for Communal Studies at the University of Southern Indiana, that I was able to trace these sites.

I want these places to be recorded, if only to say that here, at one time, desire turned action, and alternatives were exercised. The political mythologists of the moment might have you believe that our divisions have always been insurmountable. But these cooperative American experiments attracted the (educated, wealthy, devout, free) and the not. The motivations for membership were complex, and individualized, but all agreed to try and live out something a bit better, something of their own creation, something from nothing, if only for a while. While intentional communities still exist, “utopia” is more of a thought exercise than a reality, a way to expose what lacks, and a way to play with what is possible. That many of these utopian communities failed is informative, that they existed at all is substantial. Utopian thought can go wrong, we know, but it does not mean that that very human impulse towards creating something a bit better, be ignored.

Roll, then, on.

Katherine Cunningham is a lens-based artist, writer, and educator. Katherine received a BFA in photography from Washington University in St. Louis, with time abroad at Goldsmiths College, University of London. She went on to obtain an MFA in photography from The University of Notre Dame, where she was awarded the Erfroymson Fund Emerging Artist Award. In 2011, she earned an MMus from the Royal Conservatoire in the Hague, the Netherlands having participated in an interdisciplinary program called ArtScience. Her curiosity about the world and passion for art making has lead to diverse experiences, from photographing girls’ schools in Cairo, Egypt to working on augmented reality with the prestigious V2_Institute for the Unstable Media in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Katherine has exhibited and published both nationally and internationally.

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