Interview with Media Lux Artist Mason Hurley

This is the fifth installment of the MEDIA LUX artist interview series. MEDIA LUX features work by Mason Hurley, Clay Dunklin Irene Pantelis, Monroe Isenberg, and Gina Takaoka.

Mason Hurley| Second-Year Master of Fine Arts Candidate | Exhibiting in MEDIA LUX from April 2nd through May 19th, 2018 at The Stamp Gallery | University of Maryland, College Park | Interview by Sarah Schurman

Before we dive in, let’s start with some background. Where are you from and what inspired you to pursue your MFA at UMD?

I am from Old Chatham, New York. I know a few people who received their MFA from UMD and always considered it as an option for graduate school. I moved to the area in 2014 and met up with a friend who was in the program and thought it would be an appropriate step in my development as an artist.

How did your sculptures Moire Study #2 and Moire Study #4 influence the ultimate creation of Moire Chamber? What inspired you to explore distortion of the senses, particularly vision and perspective?

I’ve been interested in moire patterns far longer than I even knew it had a name. The studies helped most by using different materials to explore what could be done. There were only two studies prior to making the room and i made a few more after. I guess I’m just fascinated by the fact that a static object can create a feeling of unease and disorientation.

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Your works Moire Study #2 and Moire Study #4 both utilize steel. Although all three pieces interrogate perception, the industrial aesthetic and geometric precision of Studies #2 and #4 evoke a different sensory response than the light-activated stimulation of Moire Chamber. What inspired your choice of materials?

I feel most comfortable working with steel as a material, I usually tend to make works through a repetitive and meditative process. This probably is most evident in #4, however with this series of work (and my whole time so far in grad school) I’ve been trying different ways of working and exploring different facets of my approach to art-making. The studies are sculptures, but i look at them more as explorations of my process.

All three pieces invite visitors to pursue various viewing approaches, angles, and distances. How does external movement interact with and inform your work? To what extent is your art shaped by the viewer? How does the reciprocal relationship between artist and viewer complicate static and one-way notions of art?

I prefer to have my work as more of a relationship between the viewer and the object and less of a fixed narrative that the viewer needs to know to appreciate it. The way the sculptures are made invite the viewer to walk around and investigate them. I want people to see that there is more than one way of looking at something.

Moire Chamber is an immersive experience that induces a unique, visceral response in every visitor. In what ways can the instinctive responses of viewers comment on human consciousness as a whole?

When I was making Moire Chamber in my studio, Gina’s dog came in to check it out and immediately was weirded out. Consciousness is more involved when the viewer realizes that they are what is making the screen move, not the sculpture itself. My attempt with this piece was to create a feeling that people (and animals) haven’t felt before, including myself.

Enclosing the viewer in Moire Chamber swallows them into a participatory role in unfamiliar territory. How does the cave-like and electric environment impact the senses? What motivated the use of blue light?

This piece is my first attempt at a site-specific installation. After seeing other shows at Stamp Gallery, I always thought the alcove in the back was unusual. I hoped to take advantage of this space to create a more immersive environment that surrounds the viewer. The light was more of a necessity to view the screen and the pattern. My aim was to keep the room as simple as possible to draw more attention to the effect with less associations with color. I wanted the light to feel reminiscent of industrial cool-white light as opposed to a more amiable warm-white light.

Your work focuses specifically on visual disorientation, muting the other senses in the process. Do you think that isolating one aspect of perception amplifies or mitigates feelings of overstimulation?

Yes. I’ve found that Moire Chamber is best viewed by oneself when the rest of the gallery is silent. The shape of the room creates a slight noise dampening effect. This is something I’d like to explore if i decide to create more of these in the future.

The hive-like design of Moire Chamber Study #2 brilliantly illustrates how organized patterns can be layered and shifted in animating and dynamic ways. Did you draw from nature or other familiar places for patterns?

I got the inspiration for making this series of work by looking at the steel scrap pile with multiple layers of discarded steel mesh. The effect works best with uniform, systematically made pieces. Inspiration from nature usually plays an important role in my work, however this series is more about an industrial environment than that of biology.

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On that note, can you talk a little bit about Moire patterns and how they’ve inspired you? How does the creation of Moire-inspired works intersect with other disciplines?

Even as a child riding in the car, seeing two chain-link fences pass by each other I found these patterns fascinating. One issue I’ve been having recently is that it is primarily a two-dimensional effect. Even with Moire Chamber the surface creates the effect and the sculpture is more of an armature to hold up the surface. The more curvature, the more irregular, diminishing the effect.

More broadly, how do you your three pieces interact in conversation with the other works of the exhibition?

As different as all of our work is, there is an odd cohesion among us. Whether it be asking each other for feedback and advice or just borrowing materials or tools, I think the community in our group creates the bond that makes our work fit together really well.

What was the biggest challenge regarding the creation or installation of your works? Your favorite part?

The biggest challenge in creating my work is more mental than physical. Having worked in museums and theatres building and installing other peoples’ work, I feel pretty competent as far as the making goes. The challenge for me is more conceptual and exploratory.

Since enrolling in the MFA program, how has your work evolved? What have you learned and where would you like to go moving forward? Feel free to share any upcoming shows or projects.

Since enrolling I appreciate more and more what a community of both similar and dissimilar artists can do. Getting feedback from a variety of other other artists is always advantageous. I came here to be challenged and have my work evolve. I hope in the future I can continue to be inspired by the people and things around me.

What would you like a Stamp Gallery visitor to take away from your works? From MEDIA LUX as a whole?

This show questions how art can be perceived. Whether internally, externally, auditorily, or visually I’d like people to be more receptive to different art and different environments for art.

Mason Hurley’s work is included in MEDIA LUX at The Stamp Gallery of the University of Maryland, College Park, from April 2nd through May 19th, 2018.

For more information on Mason Hurley, visit http://www.masonvhurley.com

For more information on MEDIA LUX and related events, visit thestamp.umd.edu/stamp_gallery.

 

 

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Interview with ‘Media Lux’ Artist Irene Pantelis

This is the third installment of the Media Lux artist interview series. Media Lux features work by Clay Dunklin, Mason Hurley, Irene Pantelis, Monroe Isenberg, and Gina Takaoka.

Irene Pantelis | Graduate Student and Artist | Exhibiting in Media Lux from April 2nd through May 19th, 2018 at The Stamp Gallery | University of Maryland, College Park | Interview by Kat Mullineaux

Khipu Reiterations 2018, Ink, Watercolor, oil paint on mylar, overhead projectors

Khipu (String and knot record) 2018, Polylactic acid filament

KM: Before we talk about your pieces in MEDIA LUX, I am wondering about your journey to this point. Where did you do your undergraduate study and what lead you to the MFA program here at the University of Maryland?

IP: I was an undergraduate here at UMCP back in the early nineties, majoring in Spanish and English. My path to the MFA was a bit of a long one. After college, I went to Georgetown Law and became a labor lawyer for about ten years. During that time, I was an artist on the side, going to lots of exhibits, traveling to see art abroad, taking classes at the Corcoran, and participating in weekly figure drawing sessions at the studio of local artist Micheline Klagsbrun. When my children were born, I decided to quit law and stay home with them. My art became more expressive and much more abstracted. As the years went on, as scary and crazy as it seemed, I decided not to go back to my legal career and take a leap into becoming a full-time artist instead. I came back to UMCP initially to take undergraduate courses, especially in digital art, but soon realized that my quest would really benefit from an MFA. I chose to do it here at UMCP because the program is very flexible and interdisciplinary, allowing for lots of experimentation.

KM: This is your second year of the program and now that you have reached the midpoint of your MFA journey, I am curious about where you and your work has evolved from–and where you see yourself going in the future. Has your work shifted from your first year in the program to the works you have currently in MEDIA LUX? If yes, how so?

IP: My work has definitely evolved since I started the MFA program. Some things remain constant, like the use of grids and organic shapes, the interest in ambiguity and hybrid, and the repetition of marks and textures. My prior work was about the process and the aesthetics of the materials, hinting at broad and hard to pinpoint concepts. The MFA has made me think harder and deeper about what the work means or conveys. It has also made me strive harder to find innovative and effective ways to create work that resonates with me but might be relevant to others. The works I have in MEDIA LUX are part of a series where for the first time I am using abstraction to explore a specific narrative or history.

KM: So,I have been staring at your pieces Khipu Reiterations and Khipu (string and knot record) for a couple weeks now from the docent desk in the Stamp Gallery. It has prompted me to Google questions about Inca culture, where you buy 3D pens, when did overhead projectors decline in use anyway–and so many more. One thing that I see as tying the two sets of pieces together is the presence of Khipu knots. Upon my own limited research, I have read that these knotted ropes/strings were used in Inca and Andean cultures to keep track of things, whether that be money, marriages or whatever. I wonder, can you say something on where your inspiration to work with these knots came from and what they mean–to you or in general?

IP: To me, a khipu is one of the most beautiful types of grids out there. Khipus blend reason with craftsmanship in a unique way. The Incas, or more properly, the Quetchuas, made khipus by tying many strings in parallel fashion to a longer, larger rope. The strings were then tied into knots, aligned horizontally. Each decimal number had its own kind of knot. The knots, the spacing and hues of the strings, and the direction in which they were spun recorded numerical data, such as zip codes and population numbers, but also mathematical and algebraic transactions on a decimal system. At the same time, the khipus were used as nemonic devices to pass down oral narratives and traditions. During the years of the Inca Empire, in the absence of the written word, the Quetchuas, who still live in the region and number about 8 million, used the khipus as part of their governance. The Spaniards burned most of the khipus in the early settlement years, so only about 600 of them survived, found in collections worldwide. The Spaniards left lots of drawings and chronicles of them, but the khipu code has not been fully decoded. Their information is still veiled and mysterious, though clearly about data and narratives that are interconnected. One of the features I love about the khipus is that most string break into several smaller ones, which in turn break down further, creating a hierarchy that visually resembles a flow chart or family tree, but also the branching of trees, the spreading of roots, the formation of rivers, and, for the Quetchuas, a corn plant. Grids have always been a key component of my images, so it was kind of natural for me to be drawn to the khipus. They are a part of my past, being from Bolivia and having a Quetchua grandmother who died when my father was still a child.

KM: There are many cultural implications attached to using a tool from a millennial educational environment and even newer technology in the 3D pen, to portray something from so long ago with so much history. Now that we have a bit more information on your relationship to these Khipu knots, I am extremely interested in the interaction between new/newish technology and a simple yet ingenious keeper of knowledge. How do you see these things interacting in your work? What is their significance.

IP: There is a play between technology, the chemistry of the materials, and the art of drawing going on. For the wall sculpture, I wanted to make a three-dimensional khipu that took on the curves of my fingers, hands and wrists. It was a meditation on the fact that so much of counting for humanity started with our fingers and hands. Data and numbers in the end are about people. I also wanted to underscore that the way the khipus were organized, while organic and hand-made, can resemble visually the way we depict data today, like a computer matrix, a data graph, or perhaps a sound wave. The khipus also make me think of our obsession with collecting information and cataloguing things in a logical manner. The 3D pen was the most versatile at creating the form I wanted and effectively hinted at a present-day significance for the object. While artificial, the material takes on a very organic, natural shape. Interestingly, the PLA filament I used is made from corn, which is a main staple of the Quetchua diet and plays a significant role in how numerical concepts are labelled or described in the Quetchua language and mythology.

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Khipu Reiterations 2018, Ink, Watercolor, oil paint on mylar, overhead projectors

KM: In your pieces the mediums you work with are what I see as genuinely unique. I thank you for the experience of seeing an overhead projector used for beauty and complexity as opposed to being just the thing my middle school math class used to teach us fractions with little plastic octagons and squares. Why did you choose to work with these projectors? Do their placement and rather chunky presence play into the work as a whole for you?

IP: Overhead projectors evoke a kind of nostalgia. They have to do with the passing down of knowledge from one generation to the next, which is in part what the khipus did. The projectors are clunky but kind of sculptural at the same time. They clash with the ethereal nature of the image they project. The image projected is always a different version, a reiteration of the image on the light box, which itself is a reiteration of something else.

KM: Do you have a favorite medium? Do you see yourself as a technologically influenced artist or do you primarily work in other mediums?

IP: My practice is multidisciplinary. Drawing and painting are the foundation of my work, but from there I go in many directions—sound, video, sculpture. I like the mix of traditional and new media, it’s another way of exploring hybrid natures, and it the case of these pieces, of creating a bridge between the past and today.

KM: There is a simplicity to your work–a minimalism. Your use of black and white, shadow and light, is interesting to me to say the least. How do you view this minimalist aesthetic? Is it intentional?

IP: My aesthetic choices are mostly intuitive. The PLA filament and the overhead projectors were so rich as mediums that I did not feel the art pieces needed to be overly ornate. I always try to let the materials dictate the form. Minimalism is also both really old and really modern.

KM: Who and what do you see as your influences on your work?

IP: There are many, many artists I find inspiration from, as well as writers and poets. My list is very eclectic. Cezanne and Khalo are still two of my favorites, as are Homi Bhabha and Timothy Morton.

KM: Do you have any current projects you would like to tell us about?

IP: I have a solo show scheduled for December at VisArts in Rockville, MD.

KM: Looking ahead as you have one more year in this MFA program, what do you hope to do when you have reached the end of this journey? Sleep is hopefully on the list!

IP: My plan is to keep on making and showing art. I would love to do residencies and show my work in South America as well as the US.

 

The Stamp Gallery wishes Irene all the best in her future endeavors and artistic pursuits. 

MEDIA LUX runs in the Stamp Gallery from April 2-May 19, 2018.

The Stamp Gallery Hours

MON-THUR 10AM-8PM

FRI 10AM-6PM

SAT 11AM-5PM


Call for Artists EXTENDED

CALL FOR ARTISTS

Application Deadline: Sunday, April 15th

Exhibition Dates | May 30th – July 2018

ABOUT THE EXHIBITION

Washington, D.C., the political capital of The United States, is often portrayed as merely a series of federal bureaucratic institutions. These representations ignore the diverse collection of men and women living and working in the city. This exhibition is fueled by a curiosity about what it means to be a person in the nation’s capital in the present moment of global and political tension. This show seeks to question what the reality of everyday life is like for citizens of the capital of one of the most powerful nations in the world. What lies under the image of power? What does it mean to exist in a time when major political shifts trigger both movements of hate and of acceptance? How do artists engage with different identities in such a place and time?

The curator of the exhibition seeks photography (or works closely related to photography and the tradition portraiture) and text-based works (poetry, narrative, etc.) that explore the experience of existing in Washington D.C. The exhibition seeks in particular to highlight the viewpoints of young female artists whose works explore the implications of Washington, D.C. life through portrayals of individuals, families, or groups. Works might consider the disparity between larger political institutions and individual realities, the intersection of race and gender in everyday life and/or the results of gentrification.  Artists are encouraged to consider how scale and use of material can contribute their engagements with the topics described.. The works submitted should focus on the present or recent past of life in Washington, D.C. (a sort of ‘D.C. Today’) but may also examine the ways that past moments or movements live on in the present.       

The curator will select a small group of artists whose work she feels critically and creatively engages the exhibition concept outlined above to exhibit their work at the Stamp Gallery, a contemporary art space located in the University of Maryland-College Park’s Adele H. Stamp Student Union–Center for Campus Life. Any existing works must have been completed within the last 2 years to be considered. Undergraduate artists are strongly encouraged to apply. A PDF form of this call is available here

This exhibition is the Stamp Gallery’s annual undergraduate-curated exhibition. Previous shows in the series include:

  • I’m Fine: The works in I’m Fine examine and respond to the following questions How does creativity alleviate or intensify emotion? In what ways does art comment on—and participate in—mental health and self-care? To what extent is art a mouthpiece for the mind in flux or an independent and evolving entity? Curated by Stamp Gallery docents Tasiana Paolisso (B.S. Architecture ‘18) Sarah Schurman (B.A. English ‘17).
  • Paradise Now : A game of unequal circumstances and varying objectives by Baltimore-based artist Kimi Hanauer, featuring collaborations with Sydney Spann, Michael Stephens, and Nikki Lee, curated by Christopher Bugtong (Computer Science and Film Studies ’17), Grace DeWitt (Animal Science and Studio Art ’17), and Shay Tyndall (English and Mandarin Chinese ’17)
  • In Response: An exhibition showcasing the artwork of University of Maryland undergraduate students inspired by contemporary artists featured in the Contemporary Art Purchasing Program of the Adele H. Stamp Student Union, curated by Genesis Henriquez (Graphic Design ’16), Korey Richardson (Studio Art ’16), Shay Tyndall (English and Mandarin Chinese ’17)
  • Magnified : An exhibition of work by artists Chip Irvine and Michael Sylvan Robinson, curated by Carmen Dodl (Geographical Sciences ’16), Geena Gao (Information Systems and Economics ’16, and Martine Gaetan (Romance Languages ’15)

SPECIFICATIONS

The curator is looking for artwork in various media (photography and text based) with the specification that the work centers on portrayals of individuals, families, and groups in the context of the call outlined above.

The curator is also open to other media, as long as they relate importantly to photography, portraiture, and textual practices.

CURATOR

Katherine Mullineaux, B.A. English 2019: Minoring in Art History and Creative Writing, Kat is inspired by the interaction between visual creations and the written word, especially when used to examine the everyday. Born and raised in the DMV area, Kat has always been interested in what makes the city tick and loves to spend time exploring Washington, D.C. She hopes to work in the creative world continuing her employment in galleries and museums in the future.

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES

Applicants must submit:

  • Artist’s Statement about specific works being submitted
  • Link to artist’s website (if applicable)
  • Proposed works with title and short description (up to 200 words), year of production, and medium)
    • Digital documentation of work

5-10 images/files (JPEG 72 dpi), video/audio clips should be shared as a

link to a streaming site (with password information as necessary)

PLEASE SUBMIT TO :  stampgallery@umd.edu

Artists are responsible for delivering finished work to the Stamp Gallery by May 26, 2018 and for picking up their work from the Stamp Gallery no earlier than the close of the exhibition in July 2018 and no later than August 5, 2018.

ABOUT THE STAMP GALLERY

The Stamp Gallery is dedicated to the exhibition of contemporary art with an emphasis on the work of emerging and mid-career artists. The gallery supports contemporary art that is challenging and/or academically engaging and that addresses broad community and social issues. The gallery serves by providing exhibitions of social responsibility and artistic substance, as well as by offering an educational forum in which dialogue between artist and viewer and art and community is encouraged.

The Stamp Gallery is located on the first floor of the Stamp Student Union (1220 Stamp Student Union, The Adele H. Stamp Student Union – Center for Campus Life, University of Maryland College Park, 20742). 301-314-8492, stampgallery@umd.edu

Summer Hours: Monday–Friday: 11 am until 6 pm


Iconography and Power: The Intersection of Reason and Belief

At its core, Kyle Kogut’s current exhibition in the Stamp Gallery, False Monarchy, deals with the intersection of ritual and commodity in American culture. The gallery has been transformed into a gothic playground of black car dealership flags, 90s style big box set televisions, and large scale drawings of auto industry icons, all of which frame the altar, a “tar” covered tree littered with offerings that would feel at home in the back of an old Chevy pickup.

Each piece in the show, from the TVs spewing a constant stream of drone metal music, to the intricately painted car-logos-turned-ritual-objects, has an intimate connection with hyper-consumerist culture and the occult. By taking images that are so widely associated with the automotive and technological industries (the Lincoln symbol, the Dodge Ram logo on the shirt hanging from the tree, the television sets, etc.) and renaming them as ritualistic or religious iconography, Kogut is making commentary on our obsession with these mass-produced objects, and the almost religious relationship that we as a society have with the industries that create them. Through the use of symbolism, the artist reasserts the importance of icons not just in religious settings, but in daily life as well. When visitors enter the gallery, the first thing they usually notice are the old TVs set up in the center of the room. These are familiar objects — many people grew up around them when they were considered to be the height of technology in the realm of media consumption. However, due to the fact that they are producing an ominous, continuous sound that permeates the gallery space, they create an unsettling atmosphere rather than one that is comfortable and recognizable. This subversion of familiar imagery with connections to occult practices leaves visitors feeling uneasy and questioning their connections with these symbols.

On a larger scale, Kogut connects these main themes of industry power, iconography, and our obsession with mass production to the current political climate in the US. The hyper-capitalism that is so pervasive in American society is proliferated by the close relationship between our head of state and the industries that control the majority of wealth in our country. Industrialization and the creation of “big business” has always been connected to economic growth and technological advancement, however, with an ever-widening gap between the working, middle, and upper classes, many are beginning to question our dependence on large industries as the “saving grace” for the economic hardship of the average person. This concept is eerily familiar in the wake of Donald Trump being elected president on the backs of working class individuals who saw him as an icon of wealth, power, and hope. Many of the lies that so frequently permeated his campaign revolved around his connection to large industries (such as the automotive industry, among others) as a way to lift the working class out of economic despair. However, as many quickly found out after he was elected into office, many of these remarks only served to reassert the power of the upper class and those in control of these industries. The connection between industry, the working class, and the deceiving nature of certain icons is succinctly reflected in the quote that greets visitors as they first enter the gallery. Taken directly from the Satanic Bible itself, it reads

“Whenever, therefore, a lie has built unto itself a throne, let it be assailed without pity and without regret, for, under the domination of an inconvenient falsehood, no one can prosper.”

            -Antonin Szandor LaVey, The Satanic Bible

The concept of a “lie [building] unto itself a throne” reflects the current administration and its foundation of deceiving the American people by posing as a false icon of hope. While the connection to the current political climate is not as blatant as other aspects of the show, it is reasserted through the subversion of familiar imagery found throughout the exhibition, and confirms the importance of iconography in the way that people perceive an idea (whether it be religious or political). Overall, False Monarchy does a wonderful job of making people second guess our dependence on mass produced imagery as a way to communicate ideas, and shows how harmful mass consumerism and industry dependence can be when allowed to go unchecked.

 

Come visit False Monarchy in The Stamp Gallery, running now through March 17th.

For more information on this show and upcoming events, visit http://thestamp.umd.edu/stamp_gallery

Written by Erin Allen


On the Occult and Gallery Library

“Something that once had importance might be forgotten by most people but because millions of people once knew it, a force is present that can be harnessed. There might be so much significance attached to a song, for example, or a fact, that it can’t die but only lies dormant, like a vampire in his coffin, waiting to be called forth from the grave once again.”

 Anton Szandor LaVey, The Secret Life of a Satanist: The Authorized Biography of Anton LaVey

IMG_3071

This quote by the author of The Satanic Bible succinctly describes the appeal of the occult. Artifacts of a spiritual nature seem to possess hidden energies—they have the power to conjure up ideas of morality and existence, heavy thoughts that arouse a state of introspection or hostility. The appeal of the occult is the appeal of False Monarchy, but with an edgier twist. The artist Kyle Kogut marries demonic symbols with car-related objects in his artwork and immerses it all in the drone metal sounds of his guitar. The corrosive music, obsolete televisions, black slender candles and other objects of this exhibition speak of the creator’s own interactions with the occult and of the associated cultures.

The gallery as of now can be likened to a room belonging to a teenager in the midst of the ‘Satanic Panic’ of the 1980’s, complete with a tree to leave offerings at. In this curious room are curious books on well-known artists such as William Blake and Francisco Goya, individuals who were enthralled by the darker aspects of religions. There are also books on demons and other ominous beings. There is an alcove where visitors can curl up on a sofa chair and read The Satanic Bible or whatever they wish from the pop-up library. Who knows what esoteric messages might be lurking between the pages, lying dormant and waiting to be rediscovered by a gallery visitor.

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Come experience the False Monarchy exhibition and pop-up library in The Stamp Gallery, happening now through March 17th, 2018. 

Written by Cristy Ho


Call for Artists: Stamp Gallery Summer Docent-Curated Exhibition

CALL FOR ARTISTS

Application Deadline | March 31st

Notification Date | April 10th

Exhibition Dates | May 30th – July 2018

ABOUT THE EXHIBITION

Washington, D.C., the political capital of The United States, is often portrayed as merely a series of federal bureaucratic institutions. These representations ignore the diverse collection of men and women living and working in the city. This exhibition is fueled by a curiosity about what it means to be a person in the nation’s capital in the present moment of global and political tension. This show seeks to question what the reality of everyday life is like for citizens of the capital of one of the most powerful nations in the world. What lies under the image of power? What does it mean to exist in a time when major political shifts trigger both movements of hate and of acceptance? How do artists engage with different identities in such a place and time?

The curator of the exhibition seeks photography (or works closely related to photography and the tradition portraiture) and text-based works (poetry, narrative, etc.) that explore the experience of existing in Washington D.C. The exhibition seeks in particular to highlight the viewpoints of young female artists whose works explore the implications of Washington, D.C. life through portrayals of individuals, families, or groups. Works might consider the disparity between larger political institutions and individual realities, the intersection of race and gender in everyday life and/or the results of gentrification.  Artists are encouraged to consider how scale and use of material can contribute their engagements with the topics described.. The works submitted should focus on the present or recent past of life in Washington, D.C. (a sort of ‘D.C. Today’) but may also examine the ways that past moments or movements live on in the present.       

The curator will select a small group of artists whose work she feels critically and creatively engages the exhibition concept outlined above to exhibit their work at the Stamp Gallery, a contemporary art space located in the University of Maryland-College Park’s Adele H. Stamp Student Union–Center for Campus Life. Any existing works must have been completed within the last 2 years to be considered. Undergraduate artists are strongly encouraged to apply. A PDF form of this call is available here

This exhibition is the Stamp Gallery’s annual undergraduate-curated exhibition. Previous shows in the series include:

  • I’m Fine: The works in I’m Fine examine and respond to the following questions How does creativity alleviate or intensify emotion? In what ways does art comment on—and participate in—mental health and self-care? To what extent is art a mouthpiece for the mind in flux or an independent and evolving entity? Curated by Stamp Gallery docents Tasiana Paolisso (B.S. Architecture ‘18) Sarah Schurman (B.A. English ‘17).
  • Paradise Now : A game of unequal circumstances and varying objectives by Baltimore-based artist Kimi Hanauer, featuring collaborations with Sydney Spann, Michael Stephens, and Nikki Lee, curated by Christopher Bugtong (Computer Science and Film Studies ’17), Grace DeWitt (Animal Science and Studio Art ’17), and Shay Tyndall (English and Mandarin Chinese ’17)
  • In Response: An exhibition showcasing the artwork of University of Maryland undergraduate students inspired by contemporary artists featured in the Contemporary Art Purchasing Program of the Adele H. Stamp Student Union, curated by Genesis Henriquez (Graphic Design ’16), Korey Richardson (Studio Art ’16), Shay Tyndall (English and Mandarin Chinese ’17)
  • Magnified : An exhibition of work by artists Chip Irvine and Michael Sylvan Robinson, curated by Carmen Dodl (Geographical Sciences ’16), Geena Gao (Information Systems and Economics ’16, and Martine Gaetan (Romance Languages ’15)

SPECIFICATIONS

The curator is looking for artwork in various media (photography and text based) with the specification that the work centers on portrayals of individuals, families, and groups in the context of the call outlined above.

The curator is also open to other media, as long as they relate importantly to photography, portraiture, and textual practices.

CURATOR

Katherine Mullineaux, B.A. English 2019: Minoring in Art History and Creative Writing, Kat is inspired by the interaction between visual creations and the written word, especially when used to examine the everyday. Born and raised in the DMV area, Kat has always been interested in what makes the city tick and loves to spend time exploring Washington, D.C. She hopes to work in the creative world continuing her employment in galleries and museums in the future.

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES

Applicants must submit:

  • Artist’s Statement about specific works being submitted
  • Link to artist’s website (if applicable)
  • Proposed works with title and short description (up to 200 words), year of production, and medium)
    • Digital documentation of work

5-10 images/files (JPEG 72 dpi), video/audio clips should be shared as a

link to a streaming site (with password information as necessary)

PLEASE SUBMIT TO :  stampgallery@umd.edu

Artists are responsible for delivering finished work to the Stamp Gallery by May 26, 2018 and for picking up their work from the Stamp Gallery no earlier than the close of the exhibition in July 2018 and no later than August 5, 2018.

ABOUT THE STAMP GALLERY

The Stamp Gallery is dedicated to the exhibition of contemporary art with an emphasis on the work of emerging and mid-career artists. The gallery supports contemporary art that is challenging and/or academically engaging and that addresses broad community and social issues. The gallery serves by providing exhibitions of social responsibility and artistic substance, as well as by offering an educational forum in which dialogue between artist and viewer and art and community is encouraged.

The Stamp Gallery is located on the first floor of the Stamp Student Union (1220 Stamp Student Union, The Adele H. Stamp Student Union – Center for Campus Life, University of Maryland College Park, 20742). 301-314-8492, stampgallery@umd.edu

Summer Hours: Monday–Friday: 11 am until 6 pm


Interview with ‘False Monarchy’ Curator Raino Isto

This is the first installment of the False Monarchy interview series. False Monarchy features work by Kyle Kogut and is curated by Raino Isto. 

Raino Isto ||Curator/Stamp Gallery Coordinator|| Exhibiting in False Monarchy from January 24, 2018 to March 17, 2018 at The Stamp Gallery || University of Maryland, College Park || Interview by Sarah Schurman 

Before we delve into the curatorial process, let’s get to know you first. What is your artistic/personal background and how did it draw you to Kyle Kogut’s work?

I grew up around art–my father is a ceramics and sculpture instructor. My parents built a large studio on their property in Oregon, and my father has constructed several kilns over the years. I think growing up around artists working in all kinds of different media was what eventually led me to be interested in curating contemporary art because it can involve pretty direct collaborations with artists.

I was drawn to Kyle’s work because it resonated with me both culturally and ideologically. I grew up in the rural Pacific Northwest, in an area that is predominantly politically conservative, predominantly working-class or lower middle-class, predominantly religious, and predominantly white. One of the things that I saw in Kyle’s work was an attempt to understand the kinds of dreams that the American political system has helped construct for its working class, the ways we perpetuate those dreams, and the ways they function as slowly self-destructive urges that impede solidarity, self-consciousness, spiritual fulfilment, and so on. Car production and car ownership are the kinds of intertwined and overarching myths that both feed and destroy American communities, and yet precisely these kinds of myths are still at the heart of the current political system and its ideology. I guess the short way of putting that is that Kyle’s work seemed to be working with a set of myths, symbols, and belief systems that seemed very familiar to me because of where I grew up (even though it was on the opposite side of the U.S.).

At the same time, I think that Kyle’s reactions to those myths and the kinds of cultural systems he uses to draw attention to them and deconstruct them are all forms of culture I’ve also had an abiding interest in: metal music, theories of horror as an existential philosophy, the demonic, metal and drone music, the occult, and so on. So that also drew me to Kyle’s work.

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I understand this is your fourth semester here as gallery coordinator. How did your prior on-campus curatorial experiences inform or diverge from the process of bringing False Monarchy to life?

I think that False Monarchy has been different than the previous curatorial experiences I’ve had–it’s been much more direct. At this time last year, I curated Collective Monument, which included both DC-based and international artists, and with the exception of Nara Park (who was local), it was much more of what I think people traditionally have in mind when they think of curating: corresponding with artists remotely, coordinating the delivery of particular works, and installing them without necessarily having the artist present and directly involved. Likewise, Unto Itself, which Cecilia Wichmann and I curated in the Herman Maril Gallery, was essentially conceived and installed with remote input from the artist, Kameelah Janan Rasheed, although she gave us a very detailed layout for installing her work. False Monarchy has been my first experience getting to see an artist produce new work specifically for our space, and it’s been very rewarding in that sense–Kyle really took seriously the possibility of having this show be an entire environment that has its own unified theme, rather than just showing a collection of work he’s recently made. False Monarchy has also been rewarding because it’s allowed me to be pretty hands-off in my approach. A lot of my ‘curating’ (with the exception of writing the catalog essay) has been simply to suggest possibilities: this might work better than that, it would be interesting to do this, why don’t we try that, etc. I think that has allowed Kyle the freedom to really say what he wants to say with the work, but also retain an element of collaboration.

In False Monarchy, the past and present blur and notions of politics, class, and consumerism intersect with mystical and religious symbol systems. How does the convergence of the contemporary and concrete with the historical and metaphysical reflect your and Kyle’s intentions for the show?

In writing the catalog essay for False Monarchy, I was reminded of this kind of paradoxical viewpoint from early modern culture, although part of the point is that this way or thinking is only paradoxical to us. The notion was that, on  the one hand, certain practices and behaviors associated with witchcraft in the early modern period were seen by some thinkers from that time as explainable by science, using materialist, empirical methods and discourses. These thinkers believed that witchcraft wasn’t primarily (or even at all) the result of mystical powers, but something that could be explained by sciences like medicine. At the same time, however, they did still believe in the influence of the devil and demons in everyday and spiritual life. I think that many people would tend to see this as contradictory–how could you not just deconstruct the entire idea of demonic influence as something that could be explained by science? For me, part of the goal of False Monarchy is to allow these different modes of believing, these different kinds of knowledge, to credibly and explicitly coexist again. In reality, of course, in our everyday lives, these kinds of seemingly contradictory beliefs–or beliefs that seem like they would be in contradiction to our habits and embodied practices–coexist all the time. False Monarchy presents the possibility that a concrete, materialist kind of social-historical viewpoint doesn’t necessarily have to exclude a mystical, metaphysical, spiritual mode of understanding. You can undertake parallel critical projects that are aimed at deconstructing dogmas in both spheres, and those projects can intertwine without one ‘way’ of believing superseding the other.

While there is a searing social commentary that underpins False Monarchy, many viewers may have a visceral–even inflammatory–response to the pandemonium of sacred and profane imagery evoked by this exhibit. How does including an exhibition of this nature in the Stamp (the face of the university) confront perceptions of social propriety, public space, private life, and secrecy?

I think that my hope for the exhibition is that people feel like they are being welcomed into a kind of space where they feel like normally they would be judged for enjoying or engaging with, but that here they will feel empowered to indulge in enjoying and exploring aspects of themselves that they wouldn’t normally, at least not in an art gallery on a college campus. At the same time, I hope they’ll become more critical, question their own absorption in certain indulgences, wonder what actually drives their behavior and their morality. That kind of self-investigation is certainly in the spirit of the Satanic references in the exhibition and in Kyle’s work, I think. I also believe that an important aspect of Kyle’s work, and False Monarchy in particular, relates to what cultural theorists call ‘overidentification’–the process of immersing yourself in ideologies, and mimicking them, as a way of acknowledging how totally they shape our lives. It’s a way of avoiding ironic distance (although it can still be very humorous). I think that this relates closely to the sort of ambiance of cult practices: you can’t analyze these kinds of practices effectively from ‘outside’, because then you never really understand what you are analyzing, and you imagine it doesn’t matter to you. You have to really give yourself over to systems of power and influence in order to make them explicit, and then you can change them, reject them, build on them, topple them.

I believe in the importance of contemporary art’s potentially confrontational role, and I think this exhibition productively uses that confrontational aspect. Certainly not all art needs to be that way, and in the Stamp Gallery certainly not every exhibition should be that way. However, I think this exhibition looks and feels different enough from what people expect when they imagine contemporary art that even if they have no opinion about the symbolism or cultural references it makes, they still feel challenged. I think that challenge is important–it makes people have a stake in the art, and take a stance on it, even if the stance is ultimately to reject it. It makes viewers have to clarify their morals, and own up to what they do or don’t participate in at a collective social level. Ultimately, we all partake in processes of consumption, in creating myths like the auto industry’s myth, or Christianity, and we all have to own up to the role we play in the violence those systems perpetuate on others and on ourselves. That’s part of what the exhibition does in a way that’s more public than people typically expect, but I think it also offers this very public space for people to feel unashamed and welcome in being, to put it simply, engaged in a kind of blasphemy. Not any single kind–I think there could be many kinds, and I think the spirit of the exhibition is true to that. There are many lies to be dethroned, to follow LaVey’s quote that serves as the wall text.

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What inspired you to include a pop up library and select its featured books? How does presenting historically censored and banned texts subvert traditional American ideals and institutions?

At some point a month or so before the show opened, I mentioned the possibility of a pop-up library to Kyle, since we’ve done it in the past with the help of the Art Library, and it seemed like a good way to introduce the various layers of meaning and references to visitors. Kyle liked the idea and sent me a really exhaustive list of books (we’re still waiting for several to come in from interlibrary loan, since our library doesn’t own them). I think the presence of the books in the space also emphasizes the relationship of the exhibition to ‘knowledge’ in the sense of esoteric knowledge–the idea of entering into secret truths by means of both rituals and the study of particular texts. I think it’s important to note that the texts in the library, even the occult ones, aren’t books that were explicitly banned in America in any widespread way, in some cases because they postdate the times when book banning was in vogue in the education system, and in other cases because they are simply less ‘popular’. (I think the Harry Potter books have more likelihood of being banned than LaVey, ironically enough, simply because they achieved so much . However, the idea of ‘Satanic Bible’ reading groups in elementary schools is something that has raised a significant amount of controversy recently in the debates over religion in schools.

What component of False Monarchy resonates the most with you personally? What do the symbols of occultism, counterculture, metal music, and automobiles conjure based on your past? How do your schemas differ from or relate to Kyle’s?

I think that personally the incorporation of metal music as a sort of broad aesthetic resonates most with me personally. For me, the symbolism of the auto industry is recognizable and relatable, but it isn’t quite as personal, since I didn’t grow up with it the way Kyle did; I think the same is true for the religious aspects. But I’m very much of the ‘metal is a way of life’ persuasion, and so I see in Kyle’s use of metal music as an aesthetic form not just a set of themes but also a real existential stance. Metal is meant to have a kind of transformative experience on one’s whole body, and it’s also meant to produce a certain spiritual position, I think. Like blues, which is probably the biggest influence on metal’s development as a genre, metal is a music that involves giving your soul to a certain set of dark forces. The history of rock ‘n’ roll and metal owes a great deal to the influence of the occult, and in some ways occult ideas gave metal a great deal of its purpose. That’s more than a historical accident, I think–it’s part of what makes metal more than just a genre of music. And although metal has historically been ‘available’ as cultural capital primarily to certain (male, caucasian) audiences, I think that is changing; metal is becoming more inclusive precisely as its becoming more that just a genre of music with particular characteristics, and I think that openness is crucial. Soon I think metal will really be able to capitalize on the promise it’s always had, of really uniting people around powerful occult forces. Also, it just really freakin’ rocks.

How do the title of the show and wall text enhance the themes of False Monarchy?

When Kyle and I were first discussing when specifically the show would be in the Gallery, I mentioned to him him that I was excited by the possibility of having a very kind of dark show on view a year into the current presidency. Kyle chose the title of the show from a 16th-century demonology text by a physician named Johann Weyer. The text–which is actually an appendix to a longer text, an appendix that lists the names of various demons and the practices to summon them–is called the Pseudomonarchia daemonum, the Pseudo-monarchy or False Monarchy of the Demons. For Kyle, that title reflected both the occult themes of the exhibition and made not-so-veiled reference to the Trump presidency. For the wall text, early on I suggested to Kyle that I liked the idea of just having a kind of quotation or short piece of poetry that would reflect the show, and would be a part of it, instead of just a meta-commentary on the art, which is what wall text typically provides in an exhibition. I came up with a number of possible quotes for the wall text, drawn from Aleister Crowley, William Blake, Anton LaVey, and so on, but the one we chose was always my favorite, and Kyle likewise thought it reflected the political aspect of the show most directly. I think that having the wall text as this concise, meaning-laden quote contributes to this spiritual experience you can have in the exhibition: this idea that you enter a space and are given a certain moral and existential imperative by this piece of text, which then shapes how you comport yourself in the exhibition–which of course is a kind of strategy that both sacred and secular spaces often use to form followers of their belief systems. Here, hopefully, the quote also moves people to question how they are shaped by those systems, how they are made into followers and believers.

The opening performance of False Monarchy explored ritual, collectivism, and counterculture. How was the idea for the performance art developed?

At some point during the process of creating new work, Kyle was talking about doing more video work and expanding on some earlier performances that he had done with him playing the guitar. I suggested that one thing the Stamp Gallery has been trying to do over the past few years is to have performances associated with at least some of its exhibitions, and that doing a performance at the reception or some other time during the show’s run would be a great idea, and might allow Kyle expand that aspect of his practice. Basically, Kyle took that and the rest was him–I think the only other thing I suggested was that an hour-long drone performance might be longer than some of our visitors would attend, but other than that the whole shape of the performance was Kyle’s idea. I think it was really awesome that he included other performers, including students from UMD (including the Gallery’s own Grace DeWitt), and–to me at least–it has made the feel of the space very different. Knowing that the Gallery and the exhibition were the site of this elaborate and chilling kind of ritual still (for me) gives it this grim energy and urgency.

To what extent did historical, cultural and political research play a part in your curatorial process?

I decided that the exhibition needed a catalog essay because of the fact that it makes reference to many different kinds of symbols, images, and practices, and I wanted people to have a way to learn at least a little bit about how those elements play a role in Kyle’s work. I think it’s completely possible to have a rewarding experience of the exhibition without reading that essay, but since some visitors feel affronted by some of the imagery, or at least confused, I wanted there to be something for them to consult, to give them something to start from. The research for that essay was a lot of fun–reading everything from texts about early modern demonology and witchcraft to analyses of the American automobile industry. I think the research related to the themes in Kyle’s work–and just talking to Kyle about his interests and practice–has made it clear to me how important it is to think about the layering of meanings. Some people have come into the exhibition and they are convinced it is only about one thing–Satanism, for example, or just a general anti-Christianity. What I want to do is help them see the sheer build-up of meanings and symbols that happens not just in art, but also in society, and the ways we become blind to the histories and different meanings of those signs. Understanding the multiplicities of those kinds of meanings can then help you develop practices that use those signs to produce new practices and new configurations of power.

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How does False Monarchy comment on notions of moral declinism and moral panic?

Probably the most explicit reference False Monarchy makes to moral panic is in its implicit relation to the so-called ‘Satanic Panic’ of the 1980s, when conservative America was suddenly terrified that young people were worshipping Satan, doing drugs in occult rituals, having demonic orgies, and ritually abusing children. Currently, we seem to be in the midst of several different versions of moral panic: conservatives are terrified that immigrants are bringing incompatible moral systems into America, which of course is nothing new, but it has transformed into this kind of overarching and horrible rhetoric that is playing a more explicit and visible role that at least in recent history. But there are also crises related to other kinds of moral decline and ethical decay: there’s an increased concern about ethical consumption, among other things. Personally (and I feel like I want to insert the little handclap emojis between each word) I think there is no ethical consumption under capitalism. Thus, the moral panic that is currently underway about ethical consumption is ultimately just as much the result of false consciousness as other moral panics, even if it has some redeeming characteristics that others don’t. I think that, from my perspective, at least, False Monarchy helps frame the fundamental amorality and unethical character of consumption in America (and the world), and getting to that frame of mind and action can help really set the stage for overcoming current conditions of practice and belief.

Because False Monarchy has purposeful elements of ambiguity, visitors may experience a vast range of responses when they set foot in the space. When someone enters the exhibition, what do you hope they’ll feel? 

I think the main feeling I’d like to evoke (and I think this is what Kyle has in mind too) is of entering into a kind of sacred space, of entering into a kind of cultic ritual that you can’t fully understand. I hope that people experience a kind of compulsion to try to understand what is happening, what is being referenced, what is expected of them as believers in this system. I also hope that they feel drawn to really spend some time in the space and be immersed in the exhibition–the length of the musical and video components, the level of detail in Kyle’s drawings, the number of different symbols at play, all of these aspects will reward spending a good amount of time in the space.

What was the biggest curatorial challenge you faced while planning the exhibition? Conversely, what is your favorite memory of the process?

I think there were two challenges: One was just overcoming my own doubt, the creeping worry that at the last hour someone would come and say, ‘You can’t have that in this gallery!’ This concern was totally unfounded–I’ve gotten nothing but support from everyone involved behind the scenes, and their faith in the gallery and the vision for the show–regardless of whether or not they are personally ‘into it’–has been awesome. The second challenge, and also one of the most rewarding aspects, was the coordination of the opening performance, just all the practical things. Since the ‘mood’ was very important, and not breaking a kind of imaginary facade of seriousness was really important, it was great to see Kyle and the performers pull off the performance seamlessly–just total immersion that convincingly transported you into this other kind of space. I think my favorite memory, beside the opening performance itself, was just seeing Kyle put up all this new work. Like I said above, I was really excited that he took this opportunity to really make new work just for this show, and to have it really belong to this exhibition, and that was a great thing to see.

To close, is there anything else you’d like to promote here? Any current or upcoming shows you’re participating in?

I’m very much looking forward to working with the University of Maryland second-year MFA candidates on Midpoint 2018 (though I believe the show might also have a more exciting title than that). It’s exciting to see them thinking through new ways to show their work and new kinds of work that they could create that would work with our space here at the Stamp Gallery. It’s also great to see them thinking about shaping the space collaboratively, and considering ways to have their works interact spatially in new ways.

I’m starting to work on curating a small show that will hopefully happen in Laboratory Research Gallery, in the Art Department, featuring some ‘conceptual monuments’ proposed and/or documented by two members of the Congress of Conceptual Art Int’l, both of whom received their MFAs from UMD.

Finally, I have a modest work on view through February 23 in a really great show, BACK and FORTH, in the Herman Maril Gallery, curated by the students in the Art Honors program. The show is focused on the relationship between memory and objects of various kinds, and contains some really incredible works!

Opening Performance Livestream: https://www.facebook.com/StampGalleryUMD/

False Monarchy Catalog: http://thestamp.umd.edu/Portals/0/Documents/Gallery/False%20Monarchy%20Catalog%20Text_full.pdf

For more information on False Monarchy and related events, visit http://thestamp.umd.edu/stamp_gallery