The Oregonian's John Motley reviewed The Art Gym's exhibition, Paraprosdokians and Rubber Chickens, which runs through December 5, 2014.
April 19 - May 15, 2010
Motherlode includes work by seven artists and one poet who have made artworks that address motherhood.
Most mothers face the challenges of raising children while carving out the time and sustaining the focus necessary to get their work done, amidst lives filled with the energetic chaos and constant distractions that children bring to a household. For artists, motherhood also presents an opportunity to comment on an experience that is nearly universal — parenting. The exhibition began with a search for art that explored several issues, including the impact of responsibility for another life, the re-encounter with childhood, and responses to making art with new restraints on one's time and energy. As I met with artists in their studios, I discovered that many were also commenting simultaneously or concurrently on the relationship of women to their mothers.
- Terri M. Hopkins, Director and Curator, The Art Gym
About the Artists
Dianne Kornberg and poet Elisabeth Frost collaborated on The Lore Which Nature Brings, seeking to create work that would "de-sentimentalize cultural clichés about nests, from the iconography of maternal instinct and 'empty nest syndrome' to the trope of an anthropomorphic 'joyful' birdsong." Kornberg's primary responsibility was the composite visual imagery; Frost's the composite language. Kornberg's eight digital photographs present a series of nests in various states from the intact to the disintegrating. Frost responded to Kornberg's images and built text mined from scientific studies and birding guides and what Frost describes as the "radical pruning" of poetry by Blake, Wordsworth, Keats, Dickinson, Yeats and others. Kornberg has exhibited her work nationally and internationally and it is in the collections of the Houston Museum of Art, The International Center for Photography, and the Princeton Art Museum.
Elisabeth Frost is the author of a book of poetry, All of Us (the Marie Alexander Series, White Pine Press, forthcoming 2011); a chapbook, Rumor (Mermaid Tenement Press, 2009); and a critical study, The Feminist Avant-Garde in American Poetry (Iowa, 2003); she is also co-editor of Innovative Women Poets: An Anthology of Contemporary Poetry and Interviews (Iowa, 2006). She is an associate professor of English and Women's Studies at Fordham University.
Nan Curtis has tackled pregnancy, nursing, child's play, a youth she would rather her children did not find out about, and her late mother's love of costume jewelry, cheap purses and tobacco. She has done this by tattooing a ruler on her then expanding belly, taking a gorgeous photograph of her milk-spewing breast, building sculptures that resemble forts and tents, securing scrapbooks inside a too-tight bookshelf, and making art from ordinary things her mother left behind. She has made all this art employing the unlikely discipline of a formalist. Curtis has exhibited at Fourteen30 Contemporary in Portland, DiverseWorks in Houston, Tacoma Art Museum, Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, and at the Melbourne Art Center in Australia. She teaches at the Pacific Northwest College of Art.
Julianna Bright makes small paintings on paper that look to folk art and fairy tales for their style and imagery. In While You Slept, a woman sleeps on the forest floor while children stand over her, or gather around a small fire. The landscape they inhabit is spare and enigmatic and we sense that we are witnessing the mother's dream. In other works, Bright places her women and children alongside a bare-rooted tree of life, or entangles them in garlands or vines. Her works have the quiet formality of a play performed without words. Julianna Bright has shown her work at Fontanelle Gallery in Portland, Charmingwall in New York, Needles & Pens in San Francisco, Motel Gallery in Portland, and Tinlark Gallery in Hollywood, California. The artist also performs with her band The Golden Bears.
Shelley Jordon is a painter who began her career as an illustrator. She recently expanded her use of painting to create short animations on daily life, family history and the relationship of mothers and daughters. She has revisited her illustration skills for a series of more than twenty drawings of women and girls, one mother or one daughter in each large drawing. As she drew the mothers, she talked to them about memories of their own mothers, and created a sound collage of two of those recollections to accompany the drawings. Jordon is a Professor of Art at Oregon State University. Her first animated painting, Family History, won the Judge's Award at the 36th Annual Northwest Film Festival from LA Times film critic, Ken Turan. It has been screened at film festivals around the world, including Hamburg, Germany, and Sydney, Australia. Her paintings have been shown at the Frye Museum in Seattle and the Portland Art Museum.
Family History. See this and other works by Shelley Jordon at shelleyjordon.com/animation
Jessica Jackson Hutchins pushes things together, pulls them apart, shapes, gouges, covers, and pokes. She often places unwieldy ceramic sculpture/pots on top of used tables, chairs, and sofas. She also creates prints from the tabletop surfaces, creating a record of their use. The objects and prints are formally provocative and metaphorically rich. They trigger various trains of thought, including thoughts about motherhood, parenting and family. Jackson Hutchins's work is currently in the 2010 Whitney Biennial. She has shown at the Saatchi Gallery in London, Seattle Art Museum, and the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia. She is represented by Small A Projects and Derek Eller Gallery, both in New York City.
After her daughter was born just over twenty years ago, Fernanda D'Agostino constructed a room in The Art Gym and titled it Offering. Reflecting her Italian heritage, the room was like an interior courtyard with small votives like those found in Italian roadside chapels on its walls. A few years later, D'Agostino included a picture of her child in Abundance and Scarcity, an outdoor garden and installation about food and culture. Motherlode includes a new work in projected video about the connection of generations in a family, and Baby TV in which live television flickers behind the image of a child. In all of these works, the artist draws attention to the gratitude we feel for our children and the problems and complexity of the world that frames their lives and our own. Fernanda D'Agostino is represented by the Elizabeth Leach Gallery in Portland. She has exhibited nationally and internationally; her works using digital media were recently included in exhibitions in Spain and China.
In 2004, Linda Hutchins exhibited a series of typewritten works in the exhibition Reiterations in The Art Gym. Included were several scrolls the artist made by typing phrase thousands of times, that parents hear themselves saying over and over to their children — be quiet be quiet, sit still sit still sit still. These works were time-intensive, but were also work that could be broken into chunks — piecework. Motherlode includes several scrolls from the series; it also includes a new series of abstract drawings that make use of the principle of taking on a large endeavor systematically, line by line, section by section. Hutchins shows at Pulliam Gallery in Portland and has exhibited at the Tacoma Art Museum, Braunstein/Quay Gallery of San Francisco, and at the Southwest School of Art & Craft, San Antonio, Texas.
Conversation with David Shields and Jay Ponteri
Thursday, 12 noon, April 29 in The Art Gym
David Shields's most recent books are Reality Hunger: A Manifesto (Knopf, 2010) and The Thing About Life Is That One Day You'll Be Dead (Knopf, 2008), which was a New York Times bestseller. He is the author of several other books of fiction and nonfiction, and he lives in Seattle where he is a professor in the English department at the University of Washington. Marylhurst University faculty member Jay Ponteri teaches creative writing and is the founding advisor and current editor of MReview. Ponteri has published prose in Del Sol Review, Cimarron Review, Clackamas Literary Review, and Eye-Rhyme: Journal of New Literature, Seattle Review, and Salamander. He recently finished a nonfiction manuscript titled, Full Face: A Self-Portrait. David Shields will also read from his work at 7:30 pm, Thursday, April 29, as part of the Binford Reading Series.