Interview with ‘False Monarchy’ Artist Kyle Kogut

Kyle Kogut | Exhibiting artist in solo show False Monarchy from January 24 through March 17, 2018 at The Stamp Gallery | University of Maryland, College Park | Interview by Grace DeWitt

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Walking into Kyle Kogut’s solo show, False Monarchy, at The Stamp Gallery.

Let’s start with some history. Where did you grow up? Where and what have you studied?

I grew up in a small town outside of Philadelphia, PA. I started making art at a very young age, and have been drawing for as long as I can remember. I ended up going to Tyler School of Art at Temple University and got my Bachelors of Fine Art degree and explored a range of mediums, but decided to focus in Printmaking. I was really attracted to the graphic flatness of screen printing and the tiny lines of etching, elements that are still prevalent in my work today. I was out of school for a few years and my work started to expand beyond drawing into animation and sculpture. I then got my Masters of Fine Art degree from the Mount Royal School of Art at MICA in Baltimore, where my work really grew and has informed much of my practice today. I started to experiment with video and performance, while continuing to create drawings and sculptures.

You often describe your work as autobiographical. Can you explain what processes or parts of your practice contribute to this sense autobiography?

My work draws upon narratives from my upbringing in a religious household and the life experience of my father as an auto mechanic, along with other elements of my life. I was raised Roman Catholic, attending mass every Sunday and played guitar in the Church band. In this one stained glass window at my Church growing up, I was always more attracted to how Lucifer was depicted as a dragon being conquered by the saint than the saint himself. While attending Catholic school I discovered horror films and heavy metal and became obsessed with dreadful imagery. I had a spiritual awakening at a young age and realized that I wasn’t drinking the kool-aid, so after a few terrible years in that environment I left and had a complete split with the church. My work comes from a very American Roman Catholic perspective, presenting an antithesis of the “In God We Trust” of a nationalist identity. Though many aspects of my religious upbringing, such as constant balance of good versus evil, imposed self-reflection, and a questioning of life’s meaning, still have an immense influence on my life and art. I also reflect upon my father’s life as an automechic and the labor of his life versus my life as an artist. My dad worked a lot growing up, always working two jobs to make ends meet and provide for my family. Seeing his experience as a blue collar worker has informed much of the imagery I utilize, elevating symbology from the automotive industry as relics to be worshiped as gods through an occult guise. I draw upon my history while attempting to present universal experiences.

Transitioning to The Stamp Gallery show, False Monarchy, can I ask what your thinking was behind the exhibition title?

The title is derived from Pseudomonarchia Daemonum, an appendix in Johann Weyer’s demonology manual from 1577, De praestigiis daemonum. The appendix lists the sixty-nine known demons, their characteristics, and how to conjure them. Much of my imagery draws upon historical depictions of demons as a representation of the Other, and the reality of demons to past cultures really fascinates me. While I was planning the exhibition I also spent a lot of time reflecting on Americans’ worship of jobs and the romanticisation of the working class in the rise of Donald Trump. The title was also a nod towards his absurd rise to power and exploitation of a disenfranchised demographic in this country. People now worship a monarchy founded on lies, an American dream that no longer exists, and an empty promise of a return to prosperity.

Visitors to False Monarchy often say that the show does not feel like a typical exhibition, but rather, a charged yet domestic space. There are no labels or traditional exhibition titling, print presentation is minimal, and there are animal crackers available at the docent desk. Can you talk a little bit about your intentions with the show’s atmosphere?

I hadn’t thought of the space as domestic but it’s interesting to hear viewers have had that reaction. I wanted viewers to enter the space and discover things for themselves, engulfing them in symbolism and imagery similarly to a church or other sacred space. I tend to let the work speak for itself, so we decided not to include titles and minimize other materials. I wanted the viewer to have a multi sensory experience, hearing, viewing, and tasting elements of the exhibition that will inform and play with each other. I wanted the video False Monarchy (A Ritual) to be its own entity, but also have the audio serve as the soundtrack for the entire space. A viewer would be looking at a drawing while hearing the drone metal, or eating an animal cracker while reading the prayer in the video, as if they were kneeling in a pew staring at Jesus on the cross, eating the Eucharist while hearing a psalm sung by a choir. Overall I want the space to be holy yet evil, comforting yet chaotic, familiar yet esoteric.

What was the process behind Capricho (Owner)? Were you referencing any particular objects or monuments as you created it?

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Kogut’s Capricho (Owner), right, and television playing False Monarchy (A Ritual) at False Monarchy in The Stamp Gallery.

The sculpture is an amalgamation of different motifs serving as the focal point of the space. The specific shape of the sculpture is a quote from an etching from Goya’s Disasters of War, Plate 39, titled ‘An heroic feat! With dead men!’ (Grande hazaña! Con muertos!). The image is haunting, with three dismembered corpses and body parts hung to a tree, depicting the horrors of  Napoleon’s invasion of Spain. The title is derived from the last section of the Disasters of War, the “emphatic caprices,” which depict absurd charactertures of the clergy and other people in positions of power. I translated that absurdity into the sculpture, creating a demon hand and using an abject t-shirt while quoting the body parts from the Goya print. The piece is also a place of worship or a shrine, with offerings and remembrances placed around the base. I was also thinking a lot about waste, fossil fuels, and sludge, covering the tree in an industrial tar.

This show has a vital symbolism element to it, most immediately recognized in the car company logos throughout the work. However, the hand seems to become a symbol in False Monarchy: it is physically placed as an object in Capricho (Owner) and then referenced through print on performance materials also displayed in the show. What inspired the hand as a repeated symbol, and how important was it for you to include both the physical hand and printed hand images together in this show?

I view the hand as a utensil for transformation, a channel for mystic practices, and a tool of labor. In many of my drawings I depict demons (I call them Friends), as a representation art historical archetypes for the Other, such as the faun, wildman and satyr while also referencing depictions of demons, devils and fiends; beings who possess power beyond human understanding. I see creating (particularly drawing) similar to a transformation sequence in a werewolf movie; a metamorphosis from human into something other.  I view the hand as possessing similar mysteries. I have always been drawn to the visual language of the hand, as they hold an expressive, universal vernacular.

The inclusion of the demon hand in Capricho (Owner) gave me an opportunity to explore new materials and processes that I have been wanting to utilize for some time. I cast my own drawing hand into silicone, and used my own hair to transform it a physical representation of the demon hands I have been drawing for years. While it also quoted the Goya image previously discussed, I also wanted it to loom over the viewers head; both blessing the viewer and being in a hierarchical position of power. The hand on the back of the mechanic’s suits is a quote from Éliphas Lévi’s depiction of Baphomet and reference to The Left Hand Path, a philosophy of magic that focuses on self empowerment and creation of personal dogmas.

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Detail of Kogut’s Capricho (Owner), left, and television playing False Monarchy (A Ritual) following the opening performance for False Monarchy.

To what extent does humor play a part in the experience of False Monarchy?

Humor definitely plays a role in the work, but I’m never trying to hit you with a punchline. I try to poke fun at the absurdity of everyday life, history and the human condition. Like many occult practices, I try to use the carnival of powerful images to elicit a range of emotions, humor being one of them.

You’ve mentioned that the opening ritual for False Monarchy was the first public performance you have organized. Who influenced you as as you put together the words and actions of the performance, and what were your goals for its reception?

I was inspired by a range of real occult and religious practices and performance art. I studied the Satanic Black Mass and reflected upon my own childhood growing up in the Church. I wanted to use the psycho-drama of rituals to envelop the viewer in a real ceremony, forcing them to participate something that they may not have signed up. Much like being in a mass, I wanted the viewer to read the prayer and not necessarily have time to process what they were saying or hearing before the next line of prayer appeared on screen. I also wanted the viewer to give themselves over the priestesses of the ritual, feeding them a Eucharistic cracker and letting them drink the kool-aid (literally) of the cult in front of them. The prayer was a combination of passages from the Satanic Bible, Bruce Springsteen lyrics (who has always been seen as an American working-class hero), Dante’s Inferno, Faust, and a 2005 Chevrolet Cavalier manual. I also looked at a lot of performances from artists Jen Rey and Hermann Nitsch, along with films by Kenneth Anger and Häxan: Witchcraft Throughout the Ages from 1922.

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Viewers and participants at the opening performance for False Monarchy.

You played drone sounds on guitar during the False Monarchy performance. Can you explain your personal connection to metal music or drone guitar? Have you included audio elements in previous exhibitions?

I discovered metal at a pivotal point in my life and it saved me in many ways. It helped me discover that there were other ways of thinking about spirituality and it never strayed away from the realities of life. It did not preach or promise salvation, but instead told me to discover those things in myself. It was scary, mystifying and fun, and sort of became a secret guilty pleasure of mine while I was in Catholic School. I would listen to Black Sabbath on the way to school, then had to transform into a different person when I walked through the school doors. It still has a profound influence on my life and art, both aesthetically and conceptually. I started playing guitar when I was around 12 and mostly learned the standard classic rock tunes, then started to teach myself Black Sabbath chords. It really amplified my interest in metal as I could now participate myself; I was now a member of the club, of the church or cult. But that dichotomy still persisted, as I also joined the youth band at my church and provided songs for the mass twice a month.

As I grew older I strayed from the dogma of the Church, but played in the band until I left for college. I’ve played in a few bands exploring other genres of music, but somehow it always comes back to metal. Most recently I’ve been listening to a lot of drone metal, and have become fascinated with the moments of lingering feedback and the repetitive mantra of a chord. I’m interested in how we fill those empty spaces and what psychological transformations can happen.

I have done one other performance where I played live guitar. For my last solo exhibition I filmed myself performing a ritual in which I played the Devil’s Tritone for 66 minutes and 6 seconds. I was standing in a magick circle with only my guitar and amplifier, using the performance as a ritual to focus my will and conjure whatever was listening. The Devil’s Tritone is a medieval chord progression used in occult practices, but is also a foundation for contemporary heavy metal and rock music, most notably in Black Sabbath’s song Black Sabbath of their debut titular album.

I understand that you embrace influence from the Renaissance and Romantic eras. Were there any artists from these periods, other than Goya, who impacted False Monarchy in particular?

I most notably reference the works of the Northern Renaissance, the movement of art making that occured north of Alps during the 1400s-1700s. I reference the draughtsmanship of masters such as Albrecht Dürer and Hans Holbein, along with the focus on peasant life from Pieter Bruegel the Elder. I’m also extremely influenced by the hellscapes, monsters and fiends of Hieronymus Bosch. I’m also inspired by countless other artists from across history, such as William Blake, Philip Guston, and Trenton Doyle Hancock.

What was the greatest challenge you experienced when putting False Monarchy together?

I think the biggest challenge for any artist is having the time and resources to make work while functioning in the “real” world. Along with making art I teach and work other jobs to make ends meet, so the biggest hardship gearing up for any show is balancing other responsibilities while refocusing your dedication to the work.

If you could describe the “take-away” from False Monarchy in one phrase or one feeling, what would that be?

To reflect upon how our country has gotten to the point where it is, to contemplate how images play a significant role in shaping our identity, and to question the so-called truths that have shaped our hypocritical theocracies.

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Still of Kogut’s False Monarchy (A Ritual), in The Stamp Gallery.

Do you see your work heading in any particular direction at this point? Any particular impulses you feel you will follow after your experience with False Monarchy?

I definitely want to stage more performances in the future. I learned a great deal from this experience and can see them getting bigger with more performers.

Any advice for undergraduate artists such as those studying at this university? Anything you would tell your younger self as you entered the arts?

My advice for young artists in a university program is to really cherish the time that you have to focus on making. Never forget that you are paying to be there, so always explore every opportunity that is presented, whether that be a lecture to attend or a crit from a visiting artist. Build a foundation of dedication to your work and don’t waste your time. When you get out of school, reality hits hard. I would also advise to build a network of classmates that you can rely on after you graduate, as finding a community can be difficult outside of a facilitated art school setting.

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

I currently have work in Quinn Likes Trucks at Transmitter in Brooklyn that is on view until March 25th. I’m also curating a show of two artist’s work at Fjord Gallery in Philadelphia. Other Bodies, featuring work by Emily Culver and Elliot Doughtie, will be opening June 7th. I would also like to use these closing remarks to thank Raino Isto for doing such a phenomenal job curating the show and writing a fantastic essay on my work. It was really an honor to work with him and his dedication to the project made the show possible. I would also like to thank Stamp Gallery for hosting the exhibition and the docent staff. Thank you also to my performers Miranda, Chelsea, Selina, and you, Grace.

False Monarchy is open to the public from January 24, 2018 through March 17, 2018 at The Stamp Gallery of the University of Maryland, College Park. A recording of the opening performance for False Monarchy can be viewed at www.facebook.com/StampGalleryUMD/videos.

Kogut will join False Monarchy curator Raino Isto for an artist talk in The Stamp Gallery on Thursday, March 15, 2018 at 6:30 pm.

For more information on Kyle Kogut, visit www.kylekogut.com.

For more information on False Monarchy, upcoming artist talk with Kogut, and related events, visit www.thestamp.umd.edu/gallery.

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Kogut, preparing for the opening performance of False Monarchy in The Stamp Gallery. False Monarchy will be open to the public through March 17, 2018. Image courtesy of curator Raino Isto.

 

 

 

 

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Words heard and shared throughout CAPP

In 2005, the Adele H. Stamp Student Union—Center for Campus Life inaugurated a student-led Contemporary Arts Purchasing Program (CAPP) with the mission to educate and inspire by exposing the campus community to thought-provoking art by noted contemporary artists. As of 2017, the CAPP Collection has grown to encompass more than 50 works of art by 42 artists working regionally, nationally, and internationally.


You can teach people to collaborate; you can teach people to converse. You can teach them skill sets, etiquettes, processes, and protocols. You can motivate them and challenge them and record and reward their successes. But, you can’t teach them how to care. You can make them care, with personal, emotional, or financial incentive. But you can’t forcibly expand one’s capacity to care: to immediately, genuinely, deeply, closely, care for a mission or a cause that exists far beyond one’s circle of life. This is a sentiment that is not meant to be a morbid one; it is meant to separate the human from the worker. Protocols and record keeping is not subjective. The realms in which we each care, wholly and completely, is.

So, when the innate, sincere capacities to care for the same cause overlap in enormous proportion in six individuals  − from different places and with histories and narratives that are nearly void of tangencies − who then sit at the same table every week for thirty-one weeks, their work is likened to the dazzle of stars which align. These people recognize that money is power, that people are power, and that their role can have meaningful impact if they want it to. They meet over and over, until they are comfortable beyond the honesty of audibly liking or disliking a work of art. They meet to the point of comfortable vulnerability: celebrating the thrills of found artwork that meets both personal and common visions for the community, vocalizing when a work feels misguided, or admitting when a work feels right but you need the words of your peers to express how.

They begin the task at hand by learning to articulate their collective questions, and craft their collective wants:

We work in consensus; we do not vote.

We can invest in aesthetics. We need to invest in message, in artist.

Who’s voices can we give volume to who have been absent so far?

Controversial is okay. Triggering is not.

All depths of appreciation are valid. All depths of appreciation are equal.

These works are for you, and you, and you.

What is the greatest gift we can give to people, with the power we have?

How can we help people heal?

Visual language can celebrate the sameness of our hearts and the differences of our selves, simultaneously.

I had the privilege of working in precisely the above symphony this past year, and I recognize that it may seem dramatic to compare our communicative chemistry to something of cosmic magic. Our group purchased artwork for a university collection. We did not change statistics, laws, news bytes, missing rights, elections, or minds.

But, if I am a better person today than I am a year ago, I am by learning − through the admirable interactions we did initiate and complete − that the voicing of emotional attachments to things such as this one that I was a part of, concepts such as those we advocated, and people such as those we researched and shook hands with, is not only justified in its own right. It is respected.

Empathy is the newest marketable skill, sensitivity is now a priceless tool, and personal attachment is a universal saving grace. Championing dialogue, emphasizing the gravity of decisions, and verbalizing one’s feelings in poetry or pros or anything in between, require no defense or excuse. They are needed and expected, now more than ever.

To see the artworks acquired by the 2016−2017 CAPP committee mentioned here, visit New Arrivals 2017, exhibiting in The Stamp Gallery now through October 14, 2017.

By Grace DeWitt

 


Interview with “Midpoint 2017” Artist Bekí Basch

PRINT_03_28X34_from Reaper series

Beki Basch, from Reaper, black and white copy shop prints

This is the first installment of the Midpoint 2017 artist interview series.

Bekí Basch || Second Year M.F.A. Candidate || Exhibiting in MIDPOINT 2017 from March 29 through May 22, 2017 at The Stamp Gallery || University of Maryland, College Park || Interview by Grace DeWitt

To start with a little background, where are you from, and where did you study as an undergrad?

I’m originally from New Jersey, and I moved to Baltimore to study at MICA for undergrad.

What brought you to the arts in your undergrad career, and why the M.F.A. program at Maryland?

I started taking an interest to arts when I was about 15-16. From that point on there wasn’t a question as to what I would study in school, so what brought me there was just a sense of knowing that’s exactly what I wanted. I point this out specifically because after undergrad, I felt weirdly bruised, and after one large-ish project, I pretty much stopped making art for several years. My newfound drive to make work comes from healing those bruises and regaining that same high school-like sense of purpose to be an artist. The M.F.A. program at Maryland (in particular) was chosen for purely practical reasons. I didn’t apply anywhere else.

Having seen your previous work, can you share a little bit about the automobiles and puffins as a source of inspiration?

My work always draws from disparate sources, but the impetus is the same and it all comes from me. Puffins comes from back when I was 16 and writing a sort of myth about an island where puffins lived and floated around in balloons. They were these symbolic perfect creatures and in my story when two birds were in love, their bodies and the balloons would join together in a sort of reverse mitosis. Puffins have grown with me and I am always finding new ways in which their existence in my work makes sense. Automobiles came into play once I started formulating a narrative for a project in which the car represented my husband. It was going to be a video of him transporting a flag up a hill during a hill climb. I have since gone in a different direction with it, but ultimately cars are so multi-faceted and ubiquitous; there will likely always be inspiration there.

Moving into your MIDPOINT 2017 pieces, do you feel that the significance of either of these objects, or any others, has changed for you over the course of your MFA?

I think when you make work, you can never consider everything at play. Even the simplest pieces reveal truths over time that you didn’t ‘plan’ for. Right now, I am really enjoying the piece NEVER LET ME GO and in taking time to appreciate it, I am able to consider if I would do something similar again and how. For example, sometimes you think something is about your love for someone else, but then realize the duality is more within yourself.

Can you describe your physical and mental process in creating Reaper, and perhaps share some insight about the items used in the piece? (The hot dog has gotten some particular attention in the Gallery).

My mental process is connected to the physical process in that creating these photos was a highly intuitive process. I tend to plan a lot and I wanted to take this opportunity to present something a bit less planned and a bit more vulnerable. There is an artist I really love who works a lot with natural history and the combination of natural materials with man-made, especially contrasting contemporary imagery. I think she was in mind when I was dreaming these up. I had a lot of material in my studio that I had used or planned to use for one thing or another and I thought of combining them in a physical 3-dimensional way; to just take an overhead black and white shot would yield interesting and effective results. The images are edited slightly, but mostly to create that shrink wrap/wet effect and to boost the contrast, and place more focus on the center of each rather than any background.

Can you speak about the choice in materials for Reaper?

There are a lot of odds and ends in my studio and it’s nice to have an opportunity to use many of them without getting too focused on their structural capabilities or any other properties. Simply composing objects and snapping a photo is a really liberating process, since I usually plan a lot and don’t often make something quick the central focus of a piece.

How about your process in creating Core Samples?

These pieces were concrete cast into trash bags into a long box each. Then I added objects and resin interchangeably to make some sunken treasures.

Never Let Me Go is currently located in the Tawes fountains. What led you to this installation decision?

I had created two concrete pieces last year that I put in the fountain for a couple of hours and took some photos and made a little photo book out of them. The book was a linear transition of photos that showed the pieces clear through the water but with their hard edges made wavy by the ripples, and then slowly progressing to images where the pieces are totally obscured by harsher waves in the water.

You’ve mentioned that your practice is project-based. Working in this way, do you ever struggle to know when you’re “done” with a project?

The short answer is yes. Before I came to UMD I was struggling a lot with never having deadlines. I was working on a project and yet watching the world sweep past me, wave by wave by wave. My sense of time was, and maybe still is, by nature, super slow. If there was nobody around and nothing to do, I would be happy just napping in a field all day. That being said, I now recognize the advantage of having deadlines and I use those to ‘know’ when a project is ‘done’ but that’s just for whatever needs to be ‘done’ at that time. I think you let the idea work itself out and then you work with it and then leave it alone, but I don’t feel like I will ever have it all figured out, and especially not by any deadline, so I just do the best I can by the time something needs to be done, and then one day, I figure something else out and work on it more, or just feel pleased by that.

Are there any other events, concepts, particular artists or art movements not yet mentioned here, that also inspire your work?

Everything. Not even sure I could list them. I see little bits of every source in everything I do. The artist I was mentioning before though is Camille Henrot. I am not particularly inspired by other artists though − it feels a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy. I am of course inspired by them, but not much more than everything else out there − comedy, nature, music, mythology…

You wrote a really beautiful statement for MIDPOINT 2017, which you read at the opening reception. Without putting any words in your mouth, do you feel that that such an interaction with your audience was helpful to you, or essential to exhibiting such vulnerable work − if I may call it − as that in MIDPOINT?

We were required to have a little artist talk, but the last time I did something like that, I really screwed it up, and I was working with a friend and I really screwed it up for her too. Unfortunately, I still live so much inside my head that it’s still rather difficult for me to say what I want. I am also generally in disbelief that anyone would really want to listen. Writing a statement and reading it aloud is a bit of a cheat, but I figured since this is a learning environment, it could be a good lesson for myself to try to bridge the gap between thinking-writing-speaking.

When someone walks into MIDPOINT, what do you hope that person will grasp about your work?

If there is anything, I hope it would only be that they take a minute. Putting anything in a gallery is a signal for you to take a minute. It’s important to do that anyway and just appreciate the formal and conceptual elements of everything around you, but I have specifically composed this work out of the things around me and put them in the gallery because I cared to do so. If you come in and take a minute and try to find your own entry point, you might connect with the work. But it’s okay if you don’t.

Can you tell me a little about your upcoming show at Current Space, or what you’re currently working on?

My show at Current Space is a deadline for the project I couldn’t finish before I came to school. I am mostly working on that right now. I am also slowly planning for a project in Iceland this summer where I have a one month residency coming up. It’s funny but the Current Space show has a car sculpture in it and the piece in Iceland will largely be about puffins. I swear these are not my only interests.

You’ve also mentioned to me about an up-coming expedition to Iceland you’ll be going on to work with live puffins, can you explain some more about that opportunity? Do you have any insight about how it will impact your work?

Yeah, this has been a long time coming. Like I said, the puffin thing started a long time ago for me. I don’t know why I liked them at first, to be honest, but when I learned they were Iceland’s national bird, things started to fall into place a bit more. In some ways, I expect it will be incredibly anti-climactic. You just can’t engineer these things. I have been on this side-quest to see puffins in the wild for years. I’m not an active birder or anything, I just find myself in places where puffins live, over and over and over again and never see them. You could call that fate, but who knows really. There is almost no way this upcoming trip could live up that − but I feel myself going to this happy place where I can keep myself open to beautiful experience. For example, last August I went to Maine and went on a puffin watching boat and it was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. Nobody could have planned it, but the water, the fog, everything, was silver and still and surreal. I think I romanticize certain things and then when I am in their presence I am reminded to be extra conscious of the beauty and symbolism present in everything.

More broadly, do you see your work heading in a particular direction over the remainder of your Masters, or beyond?

Sure. I have some sense of the future, but I think it’s mostly to keep myself going. Like I said, I have a problem with momentum. I just get too existential about things. I would love to keep working so I get more and more practice and I keep growing. Before I could see that I wasn’t growing much or being challenged for a long time. In some ways my lifetime goal might just be to write an artist statement that makes sense, but then again who really cares.

Lastly, any advice for undergraduate artists? Anything you would tell your younger self as you entered the arts?

Yes, of course. I am still very much that self, or at least I try to maintain it. I don’t understand this thing where art is a game you play, like some petty argument. It’s too earthly. The best thing you can do is shake off all the rules you know and start from square one every time. I think art needs to be a fulfilling, spiritual practice, and you just need to let it lead you places sometimes. I think art is an expression of the divine within, and surely everyone has that.

Basch’s work is included in MIDPOINT 2017 in The Stamp Gallery of the University of Maryland, College Park, from March 29 through May 22, 2017.

For more information on Basch, visit www.bekibasch.com.

For more information on MIDPOINT 2017 and related events, visit thestamp.umd.edu/stamp_gallery.


Call For Artists

 

Application Deadline *EXTENDED* | April 3, 2017  New deadline: April 14, 2017 

 

Notification Date | Mid-April 2017 Late April / Early May

 

Exhibition Dates | June 5–July 28, 2017

 

ABOUT THE EXHIBITION

 

Fueled by an interest in the notion of art as a means of catharsis, the organizing curators seek artists whose work figures into a narrative about personality, process, and release. Whether art-making amplifies emotions or mitigates them, all creative endeavors echo one step in the process of self-exploration. We invite works in all media that examine, highlight, or challenge the relationship between art and the fluid mind, perhaps by contemplating creativity as a means of therapy. We aim to cultivate a generative and introspective exhibition space that encourages visitors to reflect. The curators are intrigued with the following questions: How does the practice of making art participate in (or disrupt) the process of personal development? Can art adequately translate the variable ways conceptions of “self” operate? 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?

 

The curators will select a small group of artists whose work they feel critically and creatively engages the exhibition concept outlined above to show 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.

 

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

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, Michael Sylvan Robinson, curated by Carmen Dodl (Geographical Sciences ’16), Geena Gao (Information Systems and Economics ’16, and Martine Gaetan (Romance Languages ’15)

 

SPECIFICATIONS

We are looking for artwork in various media, including painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, printmaking, installation, video, and performance.

We also welcome proposals for creative or interactive projects inspired by the exhibition concept from individuals or groups working in other fields such as music, film, and poetry.

 

CURATORS

 

Tasiana Paolisso, B.S. Architecture 2018

Inspired by her mother’s creativity and artistry, Tasi is a junior architecture student who aspires to design museums and galleries. Her commitment to the creative world is evident in her performing arts position at The Clarice and her docent experience at the Stamp Gallery.

 

Sarah Schurman, B.A. English 2017

Driven by artistic curiosity, Sarah joined the Stamp Gallery team to facilitate creative engagement on campus and explore endless perspectives. She finds both catharsis and motivation through her studies and extracurriculars, particularly her education/literature coursework, executive board membership on The Vagina Monologues, and her time spent working with kids.

 

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 30, 2017 and for picking up their work from the Stamp Gallery no earlier than the close of the exhibition on July 28, 2017 and no later than August 4, 2017.

 

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


What does ‘monument’ mean?

Last fall, when I was abroad in Hong Kong, I immersed myself in the vibrant art atmosphere of Asia’s world city. Among the numerous art spaces, galleries, auction houses, and artists’ studios, there are always opening receptions, artist talks and interesting conversations going on. It was eye-opening to see art from not only Asia or the rest of the world, but a fusion between the two.

Out of all the shows I visited, the most unforgettable one has to be “This is not an Art Show.” The show presented exhibitions of different media, and together they questioned the practice of mass classification, labeling ideas and promoting boundaries. Walking into the art space and looking through the photographs and videos, I was intrigued and confused. I was expecting a common reception, where they serve wine and crackers, present big tangible pieces of artwork, and an easy theme to be understood. This was nothing like that. I was surrounded by stories, statements, and photographs and I could not figure out why they were there. Why was there a picture of the bricks, why was he telling me this, why were pictures placed outside of the frame, why could I not understand what is being captured in the photos… While I was drowning in my thoughts, the background music suddenly stopped. All the attention then shifted to two dancers, on the other side of the room. We gathered in the center, facing them. They stood there, silently, staring at us. After a long pause, the music began again. The two performers then started stripping. After another pause, they started moving towards us. I could not recognize the moves, which looked like a combination of walking, falling, dancing, and crawling. What I did feel, was the symphony between the bodies and the music. I felt that I was moving with them, traveling through time and music notes. As the music went on, they kept moving towards us. They moved as if we were not there. I stood at the very front of the crowd, and as they got closer and closer, I was anxious. What are they going to do, are they going to stop, what should I do, should I move?… While my brain was confused about what to do, my body automatically made the way for them to pass through. Silently and concurrently, we made way for them. In the crowded little space, they were moving inches away from us. We were so close to them, yet we were in two different worlds. In their world, we the crowds did not exist. In their world, they were not performers but living objects moving. They kept moving, in the same direction, to the wall on the opposite side from where they started. Eventually, they stopped as they reached the wall, where pictures hung with statements:

This is NOT you. This is NOT relevant. This is NOT a gallery. This is NOT finished. This is NOT unique. This is NOT progressive.

Then the music stopped. After a long pause, everything went back to the state before the performance started: videos and background music playing; people walking around and chatting. I also went back to where I was before the performance: asking myself what do these exhibitions mean, and is this an art show? I lingered around and talked to other visitors. At the end, I realized that there is no perfect definition to what an art show is; there are only perfect definitions.

Above: This is NOT an artshow. 2016. LIGHTSTAGE Arts&Events, Hong Kong.

On the day of opening reception for Collective Monument, I spoke with artist Nara Park. Her artwork Never Forget was made of plastic packaging boxes and vinyl, which imitated the stones that build monuments in DC and the mosses that grow on them. I asked, why plastic boxes? She told me, both plastic boxes and the stones to build moments, are all purchased disposable objects. What’s interesting is that, while the plastic boxes are meant to be thrown away, plastic itself lasts forever while statues come and go, even though they are meant to be built forever.

Preconception kills art, and to follow a single definition is to limit. What does ‘monument’ mean? Is it a statue? Is it tangible? Does it have to be monumental? Is the object’s physical presence in accordance with its purpose of existence?

There is no perfect answer, only the perfect answers.

By Yvette Yu

 

 


I Walk Through This Piece, and I am Denied Harmony: Nara Park’s “Never Forget”

cm_install-5Above: Nara Park, Never Forget. 2014. Plastic packaging boxes, vinyl. The Stamp Gallery.

When I first stepped through Nara Park’s Never Forget, I experienced a strong and unexpected conflict. Shiny, striking, beckoning, Park’s work stands familiarly in our dimension, and is undeniably dynamic. My mental hesitance was not immediate, but seeped into me with closer inspection of the piece and its label. Park builds with “bricks” that are hollow, that have nothing natural about them, that have no part that ever came from earth or should ever return to it. “Moss” exists in a stagnant state that does not begin or end in growth, only geometry. I walked through “stone” that had no history beyond a factory print date and folds under Park’s hands. All of her work is made of mylar, plastic, vinyl, and patterned with ink printed off-site.

And I felt truly alienated. I felt an alienation that was amplified by my weeks spent with Never Forget, working in the site of its stature, and so I began to articulate a ‘why.’

I walk through Park’s work and am forced to recognize the bounds I tie to the trueness of materials. I have begun to recognize how much of the things that I love, I shamelessly love for their grounded nature. Grounded: I love not the space things occupy but the matter with which they occupy that space. Nature: I love not the things alone in this moment, but the things as a part of moments before and moments to come. It is not a realization of materialism in the traditional sense, but a sudden awareness of a strange attachment to materials nonetheless.

In other words, I was not rudely asked to reflect on how much I love to possess things, but rather asked to reflect on why I love the physical things I love. I love the buttery texture of oil paint. If you were to hand me an aerosol can of oil paint, I would not love oil paint. I grew up in a world of true-false questions and Holden Caulfield’s crises over phoniness, and so I grew up hating fake and loving truth. And somewhere along the way, as I loved the transparent and honest and real, I either created or found the romance of those characteristics. These vinyl shipping boxes before me that held nothing but contained “PROTECTION,” “DIGNITY,” and “LOYALTY,” were completely artificial and completely without romance.

Really though, that’s the point. Like a poem you write and then find online in Comic Sans, my experience with Park’s work is not my own, and what Park is saying is not romantic. And despite how my staggered impression makes it seem, Park commits no crimes in her studio practice. She is openly and wholly un-aggressive about the altered realities she builds, and in a way, her written words seem to express greater humility towards her materials than many of those uttered by sculptors who wield the very materials she mimics.

Her goal is not to deceive, her goal is to understand. She asks us to figure out something with her. What really matters, to us as persons, and to us as a people? What about the things that matter, actually matter? What about the things that matter, should?

In the present, I continue to fall in love with the unique character of materials, the behaviors they practice that you take away when you only offer their image. I am still greedy: I want to experience an item with all of my senses, and am betrayed by the option of only using one. But I am also at times made humble by the way in which I consume the visual, tangible world. Here is Never Forget, filtering objects through one sense. Here are “inscriptions” that purposefully encourage dissonance. Here are items I have trouble connecting with because of their materiality, serving as a list of attributes that have no materiality at all.

Transparency is not about things that are true to their form, nor does it blindly communicate a harmony. Transparency is the champion of alienation, dissonance, discomfort. Because in this discomfort, we are made to reflect, and to grow.

In this way, there can be nothing more transparent, more honest, more real, than massless boxes building massless ideas.

Nara Park‘s Never Forget can be seen in Collective Monument, along with work by Onejoon Che and the DZT Collective, at The Stamp Gallery, now through March 11, 2017. 

Grace DeWitt

 


Colorful Conversations

The current exhibit at the gallery showcases handmade tissue paper made by the very talented Maya Freelon Asante. Noted as the first person to make art such as this, she uses special paper and dyes to make her tissue paper. She uses the result materials to make grand statement pieces. The gallery is doing something new called AIR or Artist in Residence. The goal was to make art something hands-on and more accessible to the people who visit the gallery. Freelon Asante brought her tissue paper to the gallery and is allowing people to come in and either contribute to a quilt that will fill the length of the gallery, or to add to spiral designs called Peace by Piece

Image

(http://www.prweb.com/releases/spelmancollege/museumoffineart/prweb9817249.htm)

Naturally, I was really interested in the concept of Freelon Asante’s vision for her exhibit in the gallery. Her exhibit is titled Volume; she is emphasizing the importance of the space between the community that is helping with her art and herself as the artist. Almost as if the large scale quilt being made by the community is slowly filling that volume between them and her.

I expected visitors to also be excited in participating in the art and making whatever they want with such interesting material. What I didn’t expect was seeing community form in front of my eyes so organically. I have had people come in who maybe keep to themselves and mediate while adding to the piece, but what has struck me is the conversations I’ve been able to have with visitors that I haven’t had before.

One visitor and I talked about the career fair, his major, and what he wants to do with his life. Another visitor and I talked about the profound nature of secrets, and how she likes to incorporate creativity in her own home using chalkboards and games.

I have not been able to have these same connections with other exhibits we have had at the gallery. People would often quietly come in, look around, and leave at their own pace. Here and there I would have a brave soul who would talk to me about gender during Queer Objectivity, but other than that  this is a brand new experience to me as a gallery worker.

I always like to tell people that art always has a purpose, whether its obvious or not to the viewer, there is always something. With this art, I thought I knew the message behind it, but slowly it has revealed to me it’s true purpose: bringing together people that normally would never have the opportunity.

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Credit to one of my great co-workers (sorry I don’t know who exactly took this-whoops)
 
Ashlyn