Opening reception: Friday, September 13th, 2019 from 7 – 11 PM
Show runs through October 20th, 2019
Heaven Gallery, Chicago, IL
With work by: Ben Pederson, Gwendolyn Zabicki, Jaclyn Mednicov, Zachary Buchner, Mike Rea, Rachel Eng, Phillip Maisel, and Crystal Gregory Curated by: Denise Joseph
Immersive. Experiential. Activation. Sensorial. Ever increasingly, descriptors such as these are being used to express and construct the contemporary art-going experience. Trendy pop-ups dubbed as art museums are intensifying the tendency and lending to an expectation and misperception that to feel emotion or to share a connection with art it must be touched, stepped on, laid upon or even jumped into. In full disclosure, I attended one of these “museums” last fall as part of my research for this exhibition. I followed suit with several others as we awkwardly shuffled from one room to the next awaiting our turn with the art. In the hours and days that followed, I felt no betterment, personal growth or transformed perspective from my encounter. It was then that I began to question - what is the role of art in a cultural moment powered by digital and technological advances, a moment where far-fetched ideas that may have once lived in our imaginations can cross into our realities as three-dimensional forms, a moment where the success of an experience is measured by how well it outperforms the last? We’re all acutely aware that the world has fallen effortlessly into the palm of our hands. A quick swipe right or left, a scroll up or down has created the perfect storm for thinking, rather believing, that there are no boundaries to what we can access, and seemingly, experience. However, it is this very unfettered access that I believe has led to a significant loss in what it means to experience art in its most rudimentary form. Might we turn inward and rely on the fabric of our unique histories, experiences and memories to locate and nurture an emotional and sensorial response to art in our presence, minus any tangible engagement?
Consider Mike Rea’s Tight Notes, And Black Holes, CTINH, a true-to-size baby grand piano whose non-utilitarian existence prompts viewers to playback their own associations with this exquisite instrument – Tom Hanks’ footwork rendition of Heart & Soul forever burned in our memories. Zachary Buchner’s use of acrylic as a protective shield to the sculpted acoustic foam concealed underneath may read as a metaphor for preservation, perhaps one of a sound, an intimate conversation or something all the more precious to the viewer. Jaclyn Mednicov and Rachel Eng draw our attention to life’s natural cycles in their sculpted works, singular forms ban together to showcase the promise of hope and rebirth following inescapable loss and decay. Crystal Gregory subverts our standard perceptions of strength through the materiality present in her work, exploring intersections where resistance meets freedom and harshness transforms into beauty. Distorted systems form the basis of the micro-universes presented by painter, Gwendolyn Zabicki, and mixed media artist, Phillip Maisel. Reflection, framing and folds playfully disorient and invite the viewer to consider these works as a portals to our thoughts, willing us into a quiet moment of contemplation as we navigate the varied planes to find our place. Ben Pederson’s constellation of sculptures hover above as microorganisms taking flight in many directions, urging us to consider them not as inanimate objects but as ones in a state of flux wanting to flourish. In turn, calling into question our own inanimate nature. Through a shared and intimate knowledge of material and subject matter, Knows No Bounds seeks to recalibrate the act of experiencing art, as we know it today. An engagement in which lingering observation is welcomed for its innate ability to spark any infinite number of internal associations for the viewer, bringing all bounds tumbling down.