I am interested in encounters suggesting the fragile necessity of linkage inherent to art making.
Relishing in connections as well as contradictions generated by revising order where conflict becomes compelling, and solutions are deferred.
My work began in painting which I pursued until the early 90s. Then a significant change evolved from an intentional pursuit to take things apart and rebuild noting what needed another identity.
This shift began to disperse my attention to investigating sequence as an inevitable discourse of disruption and misdirection. Displacement being a persistent offering.
Born in 1935 in Indianapolis, Joan Tanner has lived in Southern California since the mid-1960s. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Wisconsin at Madison in 1957 and began her career as a painter. She has been consistently exhibiting her paintings, drawings, photographs, sculpture and site-specific installations since 1968. Tanner maintains a vigorous studio practice somewhat akin to a laboratory and is inspired by spatial contradictions, archetypal geometric forms and raw materials. Her work is held in numerous private and corporate collections and in the following public collections: The Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities, Special Collections; Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts; Harvard University, Houghton Library, Department of Printing and Graphics, Cambridge, Massachusetts; New York Public Library, Spencer Collection, New York City, NY; Speed Art Museum, Louisville, Kentucky; and Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, California. Over the years, Tanner has been a visiting lecturer at the University of California–Santa Barbara, Ohio University in Athens, Illinois State University at Normal, and an artist-in-residence at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
During my art career I have used various multi-media techniques to both explore and hide identity. I examine the friction between the interior life and public self. To stress anonymity, I have often used masks in my work. In this issue of Posit I am showing work from two series done recently. Beauty Masks is a book consisting of self-portraits made by covering my face with “found” faces. There are 120 self-portraits in this book. I juxtapose images of model’s faces ripped from fashion magazines over my own face as a mask. The images I have chosen to disguise myself are diverse in their race, hairdo, accessories and dress. There’s a stark contrast between the retouched and made-up faces and my actual hands and body — a reminder of the commodification of idealized beauty and a reflection of the fear of death.
The second series, Casting Call, is a collection of almost 300 miniature sculptures made of detritus found in my studio, on the streets and in my kitchen. I utilized adhesive tape, push pins, paint tubes, sponges, cotton balls, swabs, nails, clips, screws, anything and everything I was able to glean. These recombinant icons emerged as an installation at BravinLee Projects in 2018.They extend my exploration of personal identify by creating humanoid surrogate identities that stand in for my hidden persona(s). The diversity of forms reflect the huge disparity found in any crowd. Having pursued a detached, perhaps secretive, or voyeuristic observation of people throughout my career, I believe that my work has evolved into a unique and revelatory depiction of human nature in all its diversion and mass commonality.
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 and started making art that explored the misalignments between cultural representation and inner psychology. She utilizes drawing, photography, typography, video, painting, sculpture, and bookmaking. Henry has shown her art 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, New York, 2017.
Nothing can be taken for granted. Constant change proves to be the only reliable point of reference. Equilibrium being as fleeting as life itself, one fuses an array of thought fragments retrieved from memories into a drawing of graphite, metal or wood. By doing so, the artist builds a fragile mental world of metaphor that lends meaning to his largely unnoticed visit among the general population.
Among the works shown here, A Taunt Done, eh? is an homage to Duchamp’s “Étant donnés,” which extracts the perspective aspect of his barn door, wall and the distant waterfall, then reverts them to an actual outdoor setting. (The wattle enclosure with window was constructed about 100 yds from the dam’s spillway). Perpetual Notion Machine (aka Sisyphus machine) is from a “Railcar/dolly” series of metaphorical self-portraits embodied by abandoned wheeled vehicles featuring absurd routines, introspective dead ends, malfunctioning equipment and failed objectives: A ball bearing sitting in a receptacle beckons the viewer to insert it in the upper hole, and the unseen ball makes a loud clanging that resembles an idling steam engine as it traverses a staccato path to the lower cup. Perpetual Notion Machine tacitly invites the viewer to attempt to operate manual controls, hit the kill switch, read the solar-powered temperature gauge’s gibberish, and blow or poke a ball bearing (the dilating eye) from one side to the other.
Robin Croft “draws” ephemeral, outdoor sculptures using naturally occurring deadfall, driftwood and stone. His metaphorical images reflect a love of draftsmanship that incorporates autobiographical and formal references. In a sense, the work parallels naïve art by avoiding prevailing trends and building upon rugged drawing guided by intuition. In the studio or outdoors, his forms address tragicomedy, decay, abandonment and homage. Croft’s production of conceptual metal sculptures grew until they filled his home and studio. Lack of storage space prompted making impromptu “drawings-in-the-wild,” essentially translating studio ideas to park, wilderness, river, beach or urban settings.
My research and artwork are focused on the pineapple as a symbol which represents welcoming and hospitality, while also examining issues of access to food, empire, and what constitutes the feeling and or act of being welcomed. Through this research, I have discovered that the tradition of the pineapple as a symbol for hospitality is rooted in slavery and agricultural colonization of South America, the Caribbean, and the Southern United States, in particular, South Carolina and my home state of Georgia. When a new slave ship bringing enslaved Africans docked at the port, the foremen would place a pineapple at the front of the dock to notify a new shipment of enslaved Africans has arrived. This creating the pineapple as a symbol for welcoming. The investigation in the concept of welcoming is also from personal struggles as a black man navigating public spaces and environments and not feeling like I belonged or welcomed. From this research my art practice pulls from my interest in hip-hop culture, history, and science fiction. The artwork references the visual traditions from the Southern United States, Carribbean, South America, and the African continent.
I utilize clay as a historical and creative base material to inform memories of the past. The handling of clay reveals the process and shares the markings of its maker. Ceramics becomes a bridge to conceptually integrate disparate objects and or images for the purpose of creating new understandings and connections with the material, history, and social-political issues. I compare the construction and deconstruction of materials to the remix in rap music and how human beings adapt to different environments and reinvent new identities. These ceramic objects are vessels, each making symbolic allusions to the black body.
The artworks suggest the past, discuss the present, and explores possible futures interconnected to the African Diaspora. While also examining deeper social issues that broaden the conversation between all of humanity.
Donté K. Hayes graduated summa cum laude from Kennesaw State University at Kennesaw, Georgia with a BFA in Ceramics and Printmaking with an Art History minor. Hayes received his MA and MFA with honors from the University of Iowa and is the 2017 recipient of the University of Iowa Arts Fellowship. Donté, is a 2019 Ceramics Monthly Magazine Emerging Artists and Artaxis Fellow. Donté is the 2019 winner of the 1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art from the Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston, South Carolina.
Inspired by an interest in anthropology, mythology, and psychology, my work explores how identity is forged from early pre-verbal experience through the later influences of language and culture.
In my earlier sculpture, I give concrete form to intangible sensations and barely remembered bodily experiences. This is accomplished by creating hybrid forms of mixed origins of experience – fusions of animate and inanimate worlds, simultaneously familiar yet strange. Body fragments, vegetative processes, and microscopic life fuse, mutate, and morph, and the resulting objects invite recognition while remaining mutable, suggestive, and indeterminate. Visceral experiences of longing, repulsion, fear, loss, curiosity, and discovery are elicited.
In my more recent installations such as “Little Red Riding Hood as a Crime Scene,” “Elegy for Tesla,” and “T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets,” popular folktales, history, and literature are reimagined through a contemporary lens and made into multi-sensory environments. In these installations, sculpture, videos, interactive elements, and animation create a space for exploring the implications of these known narratives and for reimagining new perspectives.
Most recently I am working on a stop motion animation, “Alice in Dystopia,” a retelling of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. In this version, Alice and the Rabbit fall down the wrong rabbit hole into the contemporary world of 2020, with all of its environmental and societal ills, where the characters must find a way to confront the current crises and offer hope for renewal and change.
In all of my work different signifying systems of image, motion, language, and sound intertwine, highlighting and allowing us to reexamine different aspects of our internal and external experiences, the stories we have been told, and the assumptions we have internalized.
How we navigate multi layered experience, where signification and understanding is being endlessly reshaped, and how we create meaning and self-determination from the cacophony of sensation, memory, myth, and cultural history is the subject of all my work.
Jeanne Jaffe is a multi-disciplinary artist and a frequent visiting artist at Xian Academy of Fine Arts in China who lives in Florida with her husband and parrot Lilly. She is the recipient of grants from the Gottlieb Foundation, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, NEA, Virginia Groot Foundation, and Mid Atlantic/NEA, among others. Her work has been exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art Museum, Delaware Art Museum, Michener Art Museum, Royal Scottish Academy of Edinburgh, Seokdang Museum of Art in Korea, and elsewhere. Reviews of her work have appeared in Art in America, The New York Times, and Sculpture Magazine.
Artists are blessed with that rare moment when everything disappears in our studios except for our works and ourselves — when we feel the profound connection to what we have worked on as it melts with the world, space and time. Such an occasion is indeed very rare but that is what I strive to capture when I struggle in my studio. As our world continues to be subservient to the hierarchy of money and violence, I believe the exploration of artists to perceive the world reaching beyond the framework of corporatism, colonialism and militarism continues to be a crucial part of being human.
Hiroyuki Hamada (b. 1968, Tokyo) has exhibited throughout the United States and in Europe. He has been awarded various residencies including those at the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, the Edward F. Albee Foundation/William Flanagan Memorial Creative Person’s Center, the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, and the MacDowell Colony. Hamada’s work has been featured in various publications, including Stokstad and Cothren’s widely used art history text book Art: A Brief History (Pearseon). In 1998 he was the recipient of a Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant; he is a two time recipient of New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowships (2009 and 2017), and was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2018. Hamada lives and works in East Hampton, New York.
My work is informed by my nomadism between countries, languages and ways of seeing or thinking. My Maps Series in particular explores my identity and heritage through geographical and road maps found in my childhood home after my father’s death. The maps I use are the carrier of my personal and family migrant history. They are the support of my individual experience and of our collective knowledge.
In the artwork, the maps are drawn, cut, painted or assembled to create three-dimensional objects and works on paper. The printed matter that I transform retains its integrity as a public document, while it simultaneously holds fragments of my personal migratory journey. In an age of technology and electronic tools, the maps reflect an in-between world. By examining the tactile quality of paper in the creation of sculptural objects, I explore my own personal displacement experiences and question the inherent transience of the surrounding world.
My work becomes the witness to my migrating life and my interaction with individuals, places, and memory. The long, fastidious, repetitive action of my creative process both physicalizes and metaphorically reflects the time that it takes to integrate into new environments.
Viviane Rombaldi Seppey’s work explores personal and collective understandings of place, and is informed by her migratory upbringing and experiences. Born in Switzerland of Italian descent, Seppey has lived on four continents and is based in New York. Her work incorporates maps, phonebooks, photographs, magazines, and other materials into intricate installations, collages, sculptures, and drawings. She holds an MFA from RMIT Melbourne, Australia, and has exhibited at numerous institutions worldwide, including the Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami, FL; the Bronx Museum of the Arts, NY; the Hunterdon Art Museum, NJ; and the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Australia. Please visit vivianerombaldi.com for more information.
What I do: I fabricate objects with meticulous handmade details that are counterpoints to the banality of their materials. Repurposing marketing tools from consumer culture, I shred and create with solicitations, safety envelopes and catalogs that are difficult to recycle because their inks have high concentrations of heavy metals. Deconstructing these materials reshapes their formulaic messages into narratives of personal interest. As interpretations of natural structures and architectural elements, my forms are indelible impressions from recollections and observations. Rolling, folding, sewing and fabricating the shreds into intimate sculptural reliefs produces works that explore surface and texture, becoming meditations on consumerism and waste.
Why I do it: nothing seemed to make it into the trash in the apartment of my Eastern European grandparents. Discarded clothing became crocheted rugs. Old curtains became aprons. Leftovers became the ingredients for new meals. Nothing was wasted, everything possible was reused. Castoff items became novel and compelling in their metamorphosis. Combining this sensibility with the shredding of junk mail illuminates the physical acts of deconstructing and repurposing. The power of transformation, frugality, ingenuity and handmade quality drive my practice.
Jaynie Gillman Crimmins, a Brooklyn based artist, creates alternative narratives from quotidian materials. Her work has been exhibited at ART on PAPER; SPRING/BREAK Art Show; Governor’s Island Art Fair and the National Museum of Romanian Literature in addition to museums throughout the United States. Crimmins has a long history of community work, currently volunteering in the Guggenheim Museum’s Learning Through Art Program. She holds two degrees in Art Education – a BS from the State University College at Buffalo and MS from the College of New Rochelle, with a minor in Art Therapy. She is represented by K. Imperial Fine Art, San Francisco, CA and shows at Mason Fine Art, Atlanta, GA.
Installation view (American Academy of Arts and Letters, 2017)
Delicate Negotiations (2014)
The Shelf Life of Facts (The MAC, Belfast, 2016)
Helen O’ Leary Studio shot
—click on any image to enlarge—
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.
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).