The Brooklyn Arts Council administers Grants for projects based at senior center sites across the Borough. Since February 2018, my placement at the Carmine Carro Community Center gave me the opportunity to work with seniors from Marine Park, Brooklyn. The participants developed drawing and painting skills to render images onto clay slabs which resulted in ceramic tiles. All materials were supplied through the Brooklyn Arts Council SU-CASA grant and firings took place at my studio in Red Hook. The Carmine Carro Community Center provided the classroom space for approximately 12-14 seniors, who were inspired to create several designs as they gained confidence working with clay.
The themes reflected their interests in various travel locations or general subjects of nature or abstraction. On June 22nd, an exhibition and reception was the final culmination of the teaching residency, coordinated along with an exhibit of artwork by children in the Marine Park community.
Material Process is a multimedia exhibition of artworks by eleven artists working at TI Art Studios in Gowanus/Redhook Brooklyn. The artists in this exhibition—Jacob Faber, Judy Hugentobler, Sara Jones, Katherine Keltner, Kakyoung Lee, Casey Lin, Janice McDonnell, Spencer Merolla, AV Ryan, Traci Talasco, and Alexa Williams—present a variety of works ranging in use of materials from en plein air oil painting, to found object constructions, ceramic sculpture, and video installation.
The exhibition speaks to how materials and process hold influence on an artistic practice and the ways in which each artist dictates their own aesthetic and conceptual sensibilities through their media. Organized in conjunction with the annual Gowanus Open Studios, the reception for Material Process will coincide with the opening of artists workspaces to the public throughout the weekend of October 21-22.
Jacob Faber works with found wood and objects to create sculptures that suggest, or invite an interaction. The materials in his works are used in the condition which they were found in order to preserve the detailed impressed left upon them from their previous life. These details, along with their new sculptural forms, build narratives on the history and lifespan of an object beyond its original and intended use.
Judith Hugentobler’s ceramic works are inspired by landscape and the naturalistic textures found in them. She works with slab building techniques which allow her to enhance and articulate surface irregularities as the clay hardens, giving her vessels an organic sensibility within a cultivated form.
Sara Jones works with textiles, fabrics and threads in her paintings which examine the fluid borders between our memory and the spaces we inhabit. The formal repetition of the grid in her work is a literal reference to weaving, yet also metaphorically references a screen, or scrim: something that allows some things to flow through, but prevents others from entering or crossing the boundary.
Katherine Keltner explores order and randomness in her works and how images both construct and destruct a sense of identity. Her paintings are created using light washes of paint to capture a trace of objects from her immediate surroundings like scraps of paper, old drawings, and remnants from the studio floor. The resulting paintings hint at a personal narrative and the need to catalogue the objects of everyday life.
Kakyoung Lee’s moving images and video installations are focused on the overlapped—and accumulated—layered lines of non-historical daily images. Starting from video footage captured from her daily surroundings, she deconstructs and reconstructs hundreds of sequences in a fresh structure, utilizing a time intensive process of hundreds of hand drawings to create reanimated interpretations of these events.
Casey Lin’s biomorphic ceramic sculptures are inspired by active organisms such as coral, parasites, fungi, and bacteria that seem to be simultaneously alive and broken down. Emphasizing the cyclical nature of growth and decay, she draws inspiration from the liveliness in clay that parallels a natural process of transformation and reuse.
Janice McDonnell’s paintings are about finding beauty in undesirable places. She paints traditional landscapes—both en plein air and from sketches in the studio—of the Brooklyn industrial waterfront and its surrounding commercial environments, adding an urban sensibility to the historical genre of landscape painting.
Spencer Merolla views materials as repositories of memory which both retain and transmit meaning. Coal Comforts is a concept bakery in which traditional baked goods are replaced with inedible versions made from coal ash. The ash holds a symbolic meaning suggestive of personal mortality (ashes to ashes, cremation, etc.) while the familiar and enticing forms of the baked goods speak to the temptations—and consequences—of overindulgence.
AV Ryan combines familiar elements from the Western art cannon with everyday objects to create abstract sculptures that tell a new story about materials. Her works are cast in lightweight materials including paper, joint compound and gesso, which she then reworks to bring a luminous and tactile quality to their surfaces.
Traci Talasco uses elements of architecture as a social/political space in her sculptures and installations. Balance and imbalance are repeating concepts in her work that translate in a number of ways from gender inequality, to financial imbalance, and day-to-day struggles. Employing a variety of home construction materials and decorative elements, she exploits commonly held associations with these everyday materials to further build on with her own narratives.
Alexa Williams’ wall-hanging sculpture references a sense of place and the tension between control and happenstance. Her use of industrial materials—including cement, construction chalk, spray paint, and graphite—reflects her New York surroundings and responds to and confronts the apparent rigidity of materials.
Curator Susan Grabel invited 25 artists to do work based on the stories of pregnant and abused women prosecuted under sexist and misogynist laws across the country. In this current political climate, these stories are more timely than ever. A Panel discussion moderated by Susan Grabel will be held Wednesday, January 11, 2017 at 7:00PM.
In Gallery II, artist Francine Perlman presents an installation, Doors Open, Doors Close that speaks to the plight of women who have escaped domestic violence only to find themselves in shelters and often in poverty. The installation incorporatescollages and text made by women living in domestic violence shelters.
THE CASE STUDY OF M.G.
M.G. was 28 years old and 12 weeks pregnant, February 1992 at the time of her arrest and charge in Fargo, North Dakota. Homeless, living on the street and a huffer, she was jailed for recklessly endangering her fetus. M. believed sniffing paint was a way to provoke a miscarriage. In jail the Lambs of Christ, who had lead pro-life protests at abortion clinics in North Dakota, encouraged her to bring her pregnancy to term. Money was raised but M. refused the money and requested assistance instead. She was unable to pay the 340 dollar fee, however Dr. Susan Wicklund offered her services and flew from Milwaukee to the clinic in Fargo, North Dakota.
S. Wicklund worked as an abortion doctor in several states, including Montana. M. received a leave from prison for a clinic appointment and secretly terminated the pregnancy. Following the abortion all charges were dropped and M. was released. A drug treatment program was suggested after an additional arrest in June of that year. What drew me to this specific situation was the level of manipulation and power over a homeless individual, incapable of helping herself, who already had given birth to six children.
Relief Tiles and Ceramic Hand Building for Seniors
a SU CASA residency conducted by Judith Hugentobler
Lower Manhattan Cultural Council sponsors weekly ceramic workshops at the Center on the Square Senior Center during March, April, May and June. An exhibition of completed tiles was presented in the Parlor between mid June and July 2016.
Center on the Square is located at 20 Washington Square Park North, in Manhattan. The Center Director is Laura Marceca. Phone: 212 777-3555 X 106
SU-CASA is supported by public funds from the New York City Council, in partnership with the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and the Department for the Aging. It is administered in collaboration with the City’s five local arts councils. The program began as SPARC in 2012 and was developed as part of Age-Friendly NYC, a citywide effort to make the City more livable for seniors. Lower Manhattan Cultural Council empowers artists by providing them with networks, resources, and support, to create vibrant, sustainable communities in Lower Manhattan and beyond.