Marie Watt

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Artist’s Statement

My work draws from storytelling, proto-feminism, Indigenous teachings, and biography. It addresses the interaction of the arc of history with intimacy of memory. Blankets, one of my primary materials, are everyday objects that can carry extraordinary histories of use. In my tribe and other Indigenous communities, we give blankets away to honor those who are witness to important life events. In working with blankets, my process is both solitary and collaborative. Small works are personal meditations. Large works are often realized by community sewing circles: participants range from 3 to 93 in age, and no sewing experience is required. The intercultural fellowship around the table is as much a part of the work as the resulting artifact.

Marie Watt is a cross-disciplinary artist who makes Indigenous knowledge visible by drawing from obscured history, biography, Iroquois protofeminism, and Native Futurism. Her practice resides at the intersection of history, community and storytelling. Her site responsive work spurs individuals and communities to engage in dialogue surrounding their own histories and experiences of the world. These multi-generational, intercultural and cross-disciplinary conversations create a lens for understanding connectedness to place, one another, and the universe in its ancient and modern condition.

Kit Warren

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Artist’s Statement

This series plays with the overlap between a range of longstanding influences on my visual vocabulary: Indian miniatures, scientific imagery, musical notation and mapping.

Central forms suggest landmass, non-specific geographic shapes containing hundreds of brushed dots of gold acrylic and powdered pigment, the ground multiple layers of deep velvety color. While painting these dots, over time shapes form, figures emerge. I add more marks, figures disappear into their neighbors, and a larger shape appears. Depending on the angle of the lighting and the position of the viewer, the metallic paint shimmers like a scrim floating on the surface, concealing the underlying forms, or recedes into the surface color, revealing the marks more clearly.

The larger works function as externalized thinking–visual stories emerge and current events impinge on the painting, leaving indefinable traces. The smaller works are in some ways the children of the larger ones, products of their conceptual labor.

Kit Warren is a visual artist working in Brooklyn, NY. She graduated with a BFA from University of Pennsylvania, an MFA from School of Visual Arts, and a certificate in multi-media from NYU. Kit’s work has been exhibited internationally, and has recently been included in exhibits at PS 122, Park Place Gallery, The Cluster Gallery, LaBodega Gallery, SCOPE NY and The Painting Center. She has been awarded fellowships at Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Saltonstall Foundation, and was a 2018 Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation Creative Fellow. This summer she will be a Conception Arts Fellow at the Chateau Orquevaux Residency.

Maritta Tapanainen

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Artist’s Statement

The collages are intuitive accretions, built-up layers of intricately contoured cut paper fragments—fragments found sifting through outmoded textbooks, encyclopedias, technical manuals and the like. Lyric improvisations recontextualize the natural, biological world with scientific, mechanical elements evoking recognition while simultaneously remaining enigmatic. I began acquiring old, discarded volumes long before their possibilities unfolded attracted by the visual beauty and richness, the soft warmth of the patina, the fragility inherent of this arcane printed matter—its evocative obsolescence, qualities redolent of another age—an authenticity that I desire to preserve and channel. Selections are made with a practiced eye—informed by snatches of memory and meditations on the micro- macro cosmos—finding inspiration in antiquated print aberrations, engraved optical eccentricities, and odd, inartful renderings. All coalesce to imbue the work with a sense of immediacy, and detached timelessness.

Maritta Tapanainen was born in Finland, raised in Canada, has since lived in Europe, Central America, and in the harsh expansive beauty of the Mojave desert. She currently lives and works in Los Angeles, California. Her work can be found in the collections of The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston (mfa), The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), The International Collage Center (ICC), and many other venues, and has been presented at The ADAA Art Show, Palm Springs Fine, Art Fair, Houston Fine Art Fair, CA Boom–Dwell on Design, Pulse Art Fair, LA Art Show, and Works on Paper (Park Avenue Armory). She has twice received a Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant, been highlighted in The Paris Review, and had solo shows reviewed by Artforum, The Los Angeles Times, and more.

Helen O’Leary

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Artist’s Statement

Growing up in rural Ireland in the 1960s through 1980s, I often heard my mother talking of the “big house” and the class system that was clearly in place, ending each story with “Their ways weren’t our ways”; later, when my family ran a boarding house, she would dismiss the tourists who stayed with us with the same comment. My childhood was defined by the “if you can’t make it, you can’t have it” Ireland, a place where making things—food, shelter, ornament—and making do were central to both the physical and emotional survival of the family. That reality and the resulting radical attitude to tradition, high-class impurity, and rascality inherent in the Irish culture of that time expressed itself not only in my mother’s words but in the language, literature, people, and music that surrounded me as an adolescent. As a young painter this sensibility naturally carried over into how I looked at the modern masters, and to the questions asked of their conventions and their “ways.” I’ve always been most interested in the modest lyricism of the purely mundane, never feeling abstraction to be the sole province of the heroic and the cerebral. Throughout my career, I have been constructing a very personal and idiomatic formal language based in simple materials and unglamorous gestures, a framework which functions as a kind of syntactical grid of shifting equivalences. The “paintings” that emerge from this process know their family history, a narrative of greatness fallen on hard times. Yet, for all that, they remain remarkably un-defensive, wobbly, presuming no need to disavow the past or defy the present. I work from memoir, stories of growing up on the farm in Wexford and my life now in the States, short stories that I then fashion from the archaeology of my studio. I work the studio as my father worked the farm, with invention out of need, using my own displacement as fodder for meaning. I take things apart, forgetting conventions and reapply my own story to the form. I revel in the history of painting, its rules, its beauty, its techniques, but fold them back into the agricultural language I grew up with. I’m interested in the personal, my own story, and the history of storytelling. My new work delves into my own history as a painter, rooting in the ruins and failures of my own studio for both subject matter and raw material. I have disassembled the wooden structures of previous paintings—the stretchers, panels, and frames—and have cut them back to rudimentary hand-built slabs of wood, glued and patched together, their history of being stapled, splashed with bits of paint, and stapled again to linen clearly evident. The residual marks on the frames, coupled with their internal organization, begin to form a constellation of densities, implying an idiomatic syntax of organic fluctuation where compact spaces coexist with the appearance of gaping holes where the rickety bridges have given way. Formal and structural concerns become inseparable, the slippery organization of their fluctuating grids showing a transparency both literal and historical. With both serenity and abandon, these structures imagine the possibility that painting might take root and find a place to press forward into fertile new terrain. Humorous, enigmatic, these fragments bare their histories as well-worn objects, and in that maintain a certain irrefutable integrity, speaking to both the strengths and frailties ingrained by hard use and the passage of time. What long remained hidden as merely the bones behind the image plane have been exhumed and remade into the tendons and sinews of the image itself. Through the process of deconstruction and reassembly, the pieces invert the conventional anatomical hierarchies of painting in an attempt to find what is fresh and vital among the entrails of the image. The paintings affirm over and over again in elegant fashion the pleasures of a demanding and nonjudgmental yet always self-conscious practice of painting that gives joy to the eye and substance to the spirit. I am interested in painting that would stand up without the usual structures of support. I am looking at my own life, the history of Sean-nós singing in Irish music, Beckett’s pared-down language, and the currency of need found in most houses when I was growing up.

Helen O’ Leary was born in Wexford, Ireland. She attended NCAD and earned a BFA and MFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, IL. She has been honored with the Rome Prize American Academy in Rome, Hennessy Purchase Award, IMMA, Dublin, John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship; two Pollock-Krasner awards; the Joan Mitchell Award for painting and sculpture; and several grants from the Arts Council. She has attended many residencies, including the Culturel Irlandaise, France; the Sam and Adele Golden Residency, NY; Mac Dowell, NY; Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, ME; and Yaddo, NY. Exhibitions include the American Academy of Arts and Letters, NY; The MAC Belfast, Ireland; National Gallery of Art, Ireland; the Glasgow Museum of Art, Scotland; Lesley Heller Gallery, NY; Galerie le Petit Port, Ireland; the Contemporary Arts Centre, Australia; Zolla/Lieberman Gallery, IL; Kerlin Gallery, Ireland; and Fenderesky Gallery, Ireland. She currently lives in Jersey City NJ and Leitrim, Ireland. A new film about her work can be viewed here.

Azadeh Ardalan

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Artist’s Statement

My recent paintings are in large part a reflection of contemporary individuals who are showing different states of mind. These figures are mostly a record of some images in my mind which I make visual. In the recent years I have developed a new view in painting, focusing mostly on figures who are sitting, standing or doing things as if in a theatre set.

Azadeh Ardalan is an internationally exhibiting artist. She has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions in museums and galleries in Italy, France and elsewhere. She studied languages and literature at Bologna university in Italy and continues to work on developing her proficiency in different languages.

Hirosuke Yabe

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Artist’s Statement

I make wooden sculptures that look like animal anthropomorphic creatures, sometimes monsters too. Actually I think that these are all humans. (A metaphor of the human condition.) “What is it to be human?” “What is the human being?” I am interested in these questions. I am also interested in the question of what is it to be Japanese. Sometimes humans are animals and monsters. Human beings have various aspects.

I sometimes imagine that my work looks silly, funny and the characters are foolish but also cute, lovely and sweet. Also sometimes they are expressionless and we can’t tell from their expression what they are thinking. In a sense possibly they are like the Japanese character… perhaps.

I have been making a series of works called Faithful Dog Man. Actually, when I make this work I imagine a “faithful person character” in my mind. Who is the Faithful Dog Man faithful to? What is the Faithful Dog Man faithful to? What country is the Faithful Dog Man faithful to? I sometimes put messages and humor in my work, like this. However I am not interested in directly telling people only an ironic message. Because I would like my work “people and creatures” to be loved by other people and me. I would like my characters to be loved by people, and my characters to feel close to people and me. Because they are always looking for a new owner.

Hirosuke Yabe was born 1972 in Kanagawa, Japan and received his B.F.A. in Sculpture from Zoukei University of Art in Tokyo in 2002. His work has been exhibited in group and solo shows at Cindy Rucker Gallery in New York (2018) and t-gallery in Tokyo (2016).

Beth Lo

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Artist’s Statement

My work in ceramics and mixed media collage revolves primarily around issues of family and my Asian-American background. Cultural marginality and blending, tradition vs. Westernization, language and translation are key elements in my work. Since the birth of my son in 1987, I have been drawing inspiration from major events in my family’s history, the day-to-day challenges of parenting, and my own childhood memories of being raised in a minority culture in the United States. I use the image of a child as a symbol of innocence, potential and vulnerability.

Beth Lo makes work in ceramics and mixed media about family, culture and language. Her Good Children vessels and sculptures have been exhibited internationally and she has been the recipient of a United States Artist Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Individual Artist Fellowship, Montana Arts Council Individual Artist Grant and an American Craft Museum Design Award. She is also a children’s book illustrator and professional bass player. She retired after 30 years of teaching ceramics at the University of Montana in 2016.

Miriam Hitchcock

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Artist’s Statement

Making art is a function of living, a material practice that allows me to examine the ordinary and illuminate the familiar. My creative attitude and working process are largely informed by the inherent displacement and fragmentation characteristic of contemporary life and the landscape we now inhabit, against a diminishing wilderness. Allusions to aftermath and anachronism reflect my fascination with the experience of time. Finding that text and sound are potent collaborators, I now make short time-based media projects alongside painting, which constitutes the core of my studio practice.

Miriam Hitchcock lives and works in Santa Cruz, California. Born in San Francisco, she grew up in a nature loving family on the peninsula, attended University of California at Santa Cruz and went on to complete an MFA in Painting from Yale University. Miriam has taught Painting, Drawing and Design at Brown University, Rhode Island School of Design and Cornell University. Returning to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1990, she instructed studio Art courses at Stanford University, San Jose State University, and continuously from 1992 to 2012, the University of California at Santa Cruz. Miriam has led studio intensive courses in Rome, Italy through the Cornell University Dept. of Art and Architecture and The American University in Rome as well as University of California at Santa Cruz. She began incorporating animation and time-based media into her life-long painting practice in 2012, and received an award for Best Experimental Film in the 2018 Annual Copenhagen Film Festival, Denmark.

Jessica Hines

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Artist’s Statement

My Brother’s War is an eleven chapter series (so far) of personal photographs reflecting my investigation into the circumstances of my brother’s early death after the war in Viet Nam. The work is about loss, healing, hope, and living in the aftermath of war – both for a veteran and for his family and friends. Gary was sent to Viet Nam at the height of the war in 1967. He arrived in Qui Nhon on November 4th. It was my 8th birthday. Honorably discharged from the army in 1969 with a “service connected nervous condition”, we later came to know his plight as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. My pre-war brother, a normal and well-adjusted person, had become, according to the U.S. Veterans Administration, 50% disabled. He took his own life about ten years later. Determined to find more information about what happened to him, I contacted his comrades 35 years after the war, traveled to a reunion of his platoon, found the home where he died, his burial place, and twice traveled to Chu Lai, Viet Nam, where Gary was stationed during the war. I used his photographs and letters to serve as my guides, sometimes combining his photographic vision with mine. The project, nearly twelve years of effort, has evolved and changed with time, using a variety of formats to tell the story. In titling this work My Brother’s War, I make reference to other families worldwide that have lost, and are presently losing loved ones to war. My works seeks to inspire, as the only alternative, a peaceful coexistence.

Jessica Hines received her BFA from Washington University in St. Louis and her MFA in photography from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She won 1st Place in the Kuala Lumpur International PhotoAwards, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 1st Place in NEXT: New Photographic Visions, Castell Photography Gallery, curated by Elizabeth Avedon, Asheville, North Carolina, The Kolga Award for Best Experimental Photography, Kolga Tbislisi Photo in Tbilisi, Georgia, Humanitarian Documentary Grant in the WPGA Annual, Pollux Awards, juried by Philip Brookman, Chief Curator and Head of Research at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington DC, First Prize in Fine Art Portfolio in the World Wide Photography Gala Awards, and Grand Prize for portfolio in the Lens Culture International Exposure Awards 2010. Her work was exhibited in the New York Photo Festival 2011 in Subjective/Objective, curated by Elisabeth Biondi, New York, New York. Hines has lectured and exhibited throughout North and South America, Asia, Europe, and Oceania.

Judith Henry

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Artist’s Statement

For almost 50 years I have created conceptual multimedia artworks exploring the friction between our interior lives and public selves. I have secretly observed, listened to, photographed, filmed and recorded strangers in public places while remaining largely invisible. When using myself as subject, I have appeared masked or hidden, as in several recent series.

After graduating Carnegie Mellon, I moved to New York from the suburbs of Cleveland and found myself in a densely populated metropolis. For me, each person was a matchless original as well as a stereotype. In 1970, with a small, cheap camera, I began surreptitiously photographing people on the streets, often listening to their conversations. In an attempt to tease out patterns of human experience, I aggregated thousands of photographs.

For years, I repurposed my street photographs in many forms: books, videos, photographs, installations and sculptures, and even created Who I Saw in New York from 1970-2000, a book and gallery installation consisting of photographs of thousands of people.

When I moved from SoHo to Williamsburg, Brooklyn in 2008, I became dependent on the L train to visit Manhattan. This made it easy to go to galleries, museums, visit friends, see doctors, etc. I now found myself in close quarters with a vast and, for me, new, population. As a pastime, I began photographing other passengers with my iPhone. At the same time, I continued my art in the studio by developing several series of myself behind masks.

In 2017, it was announced that the L train would be closed for 18 months for repairs. What would this mean? How would my life be affected? Would my work practice change? It would not, but the focus, the idea would have a different urgency. I decided to start a new project, painting portraits of the passengers I had photographed. With free, quick, gestural strokes and a palette of both muted and intense colors, I tried to bring life to the gray underground. The speed of my painting reflected, for me, the crowded, ever-moving population of passengers; hurried, contemplative, sometimes angry, occasionally musical and lyrical. Almost half a million of us would be dislocated or stranded every day.

Underground became integrated with above ground. Everywhere I walked, construction crossed my paths. I photographed my altered landscape. The images became backgrounds on which I mounted several of the portraits. This recombination created context which has always been crucial to my art practice. I called the series L Train Bye, Bye. But then, overnight, everything seemed about to change. The governor had somehow discovered a new technology at the last minute. No shutdown, he said. No fast track. But my work would stand with a new title, They Rode the L Train.

Judith Henry is a multi-media artist, born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. After receiving a BFA from Carnegie-Mellon University, she moved to New York in the late 1960s and started making art that explored the friction between interior life and public persona, developing themes of self-disclosure, identity and loss. She utilizes drawing, photography, typography, video, painting and sculpture. Several of her works resulted in large installations. In addition to exhibiting internationally for decades, in 1976 Henry and artist Jaime Davidovich created Wooster Enterprises, whose conceptual paper products were sold internationally. Her conceptual Crumpled Paper Stationery was produced and sold by The Museum of Modern Art for years. MoMA also commissioned her to produce Overheard on the Way to MoMAQNS when they closed the 53rd Street museum for renovation and temporarily moved to Queens. Judith Henry’s Overheard book series was published by Universe/Rizzoli from 2000 to 2002 and in 2006 Atria Books published her Overheard in America. Henry has shown in New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Cleveland, Philadelphia and internationally in Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Istanbul, London and Switzerland. Her most recent solo shows were at BravinLee programs, New York, 2015 and 2018, Visual Arts Center of New Jersey, 2016 and The National Arts Club 2017.