Curated by Gina Telcocci
I’ve been looking at contemporary art for a long time and, personally, I’m tired of art that doesn’t care what it looks like. And, while I admire artists’ desires to address world problems, I listen to way too much public radio to not be aware of the myriad ways in which we are abusing our planet & each other. I want more out of art. In the work represented here, I find not only serious thoughtfulness and awareness of contemporary concerns, but also the pleasures of mature aesthetic sensibilities, surprises, and mystery.
The artists exhibiting here are Gyongy Laky, Mari Andrews, Clint Imboden, Elisabeth Higgins O’Connor, Sandra Ono, and Esther Traugot. Like many artists working today, they share an attraction to humble materials – wire, pruned twigs and branches, thread, stones, spent clothing and hacksaw blades, etc. But the deftness and expressive range employed here endow the resulting objects and installations with surprising beauty, meaning, and potency.
The title of the exhibit, “Making Special”, refers to a central idea from writer Ellen Dissanayake, about the significance of the act of art-making.1This concept looks at art as a behavior rather than a product. She sees this behavior, of recognizing and/or conferring specialness, as part of a complex set of proclivities that have served humans over millennia to absolutely advance our survival and evolution.
These artists epitomize this for me. They share a practice of recognizing and collecting ordinary and discarded materials from our world. Then, through their individual processes of sorting and ordering these materials, they transform them into objects worthy of contemplation. While drawing on history, abstraction, and craftsmanship, as well as universal and cultural symbols, these artists are attending rigorously to their personal visions. Their art–making, and what they offer to the world, are vital parts of the continuum of that human impulse to “make special”.
In these artworks we can find symbolism, metaphor, and reflections of our own relationships to the world. Through their thoughtfulness, engagement, and personal vision, they bring forth a depth & richness that I believe is at the heart of art-making.
Gina Telcocci 10/13
1 — from Homo Aestheticus, by Ellen Dissanayake, University of Washington Press. Described as “the core defining feature of a behavior of art”, the concept of “making special” is seen as serving a “biologically endowed need” for humans throughout history and pre-history.