Posts tagged ‘ASU Art Museum’
The ASU Art Museum is thrilled to add its first Sergei Isupov sculpture into the permanent ceramics collection thanks to David Charak, Ferrin Contemporary and the artist. Isupov’s piece, Firey, created from stoneware, stain and glaze, is a beautiful new addition to the collection. It was given to the museum from a series of Isupov’s large-scale heads and appeared at the NCECA 2009 conference at the Mesa Contemporary Arts.
Russian-born artist Sergei Isupov is quite often called an erotic Surrealist for his bold depictions of sexuality, relationships and human encounters. He uses his own experiences as well as human observation to create a unique approach to the world of sculpture. “My work portrays characters placed in situations that are drawn from my imagination but based on my life experiences,” said Isupov. “My art works capture a composite of fleeting moments, hand gestures, eye movements that follow and reveal the sentiments expressed.”
Various narrative themes are conjoined together to create Isupov’s sculptural ceramic forms, inspired by particulars from his life. Personal interpretation is very much expected with his work.
Isupov states that, “Through the drawn images and sculpted forms, I capture faces, body types and use symbolic elements to compose, in the same way as you might create a collage. These ideas drift and migrate throughout my work without direct regard to specific individuals, chronology or geography…Through my work I get to report and explore human encounters, comment on the relationships between man and woman, and eventually their sexual union that leads to the final outcome — the passing on of DNA which is the ultimate collection — a combined set of genes and a new life, represented in the child.”
Firey, alongside numerous other ceramic works from the ASU Art Museum’s collection, is on display now at the Ceramics Research Center at the Brickyard, located at 699 S. Mill Ave, Suite 108, Tempe, Ariz. 85281. If you haven’t seen our beautiful new space yet, you’re missing out! Plan your visit today, or call 480.727.8170 for directions and hours.
— by Nicole Lechner, ASU Art Museum intern
Thanks to everyone who joined us for the ASU Art Museum Brickyard Grand Opening reception last Friday! The Ceramics Research Center is thrilled to be in its new home, and we’re thankful for all of your support through this exciting and transitional time.
Wednesday, April 16, 2014:
Noon – 1 p.m. in the Kresge Gallery at the ASU Art Museum — Marilyn Zeitlin, a well-known contemporary art curator and Latin American art specialist, returns to the ASU Art Museum to give a gallery talk on Rhythm and History. For more info: https://asuevents.asu.edu/gallery-talk-stories-we-tell-ourselves-survive-marilyn-zeitlin
Friday, April 18, 2014:
Noon – 1 p.m. at the ASU Art Museum — curator Julio Cesar Morales discusses artist Eduardo Sarabia’s influences and the making of Moctezuma’s Revenge. For more info: https://asuevents.asu.edu/brown-bag-lunch-series-julio-cesar-morales-moctezumas-revenge
As always, museum admission (at any location) is always free! For questions on hours, directions or programming, call 480.965.2787 or visit asuartmuseum.asu.edu.
Image credits, clockwise from left:
Los Carpinteros, Vecinos (Neighbors), 2005. Fiberglass, polyester resin, stainless steel, silicon, PVC, water pump, water filter, lighting and water. 42 1/8 x 60 1/4 x 60 1/4 in. Gift of Diane and Bruce Halle from the Thomarie Foundation. From Rhythm and History (2014).
Eduardo Sarabia, Happy, 2011. Oil on canvas. 55.9 x 78.34 inches. Courtesy the I-20/Judelson Collection, New York. From Moctezuma’s Revenge (2014).
Image courtesy of Marilyn Zeitlin.
Sandra Ramos, from the series Migrations II [Swimming under the Stars], 1994. Oil on suitcase. Overall: 19 1/2 x 25 x 17 in. Gift of the ASU Art Museum Advisory Board 100% Cuban Campaign. From Rhythm and History (2014).
Have you seen Moctezuma’s Revenge yet? If not, hurry — this amazing solo exhibition by artist Eduardo Sarabia closes in just three weeks. See the show that the Phoenix New Times calls “a punch you don’t see coming, one that lingers for a very long time,” before it closes on April 26.
And, get your ceramics fix with two great events this week:
Tuesday, April 8, 2014:
6:30 p.m., in the Top Gallery at the ASU Art Museum — Curator of ceramics Peter Held leads a gallery tour of the wild and colorful world of MUCK. For more info: https://asuevents.asu.edu/gallery-tour-curator-peter-held-muck
Friday, April 11, 2014:
6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m., (members and alumni preview from 5:30 – 6:30 p.m.) at the ASU Art Museum Brickyard — We’re celebrating the grand opening of our third location in the Phoenix –metro area, the ASU Art Museum Brickyard located at Mill Avenue and 7th Street in downtown Tempe. The Brickyard is the new home for the Ceramics Research Center, and we hope you’ll join us for this occasion! For more info: https://asuevents.asu.edu/asu-art-museum-brickyard-grand-opening
As always, museum admission (at any location) is always free! For questions on hours, directions or programming, call 480.965.2787 or visit asuartmuseum.asu.edu.
Image credits, clockwise from left:
Muck: Accumulations, Accretions and Aggregations (2014). Image by Craig Smith.
Eduardo Sarabia. CODEX 2: Popocatepetl, 2013. Acrylic, india ink on paper, 22 in. x 30 in. Courtesy of the artist and Charpenel Collection. From Moctezuma’s Revenge (2014).
Marilyn Levine (1935-2006), Satchel, 1964. Ceramic, stained.
Rendering of potential signage at new ASU Art Museum Brickyard location on 7th Street and Mill Avenue in Tempe. Image courtesy of the ASU Art Museum.
Tempe, Ariz. – “Moctezuma’s Revenge,” the first comprehensive solo exhibition of works by contemporary Mexican-American artist Eduardo Sarabia, opens at the ASU Art Museum Jan. 25, 2014. The exhibition, curated by Julio César Morales, will feature more than 40 works of art from both previous and new bodies of Sarabia’s work in a variety of media, including sculpture, painting, video, fiber and works on paper. Also included in “Moctezuma’s Revenge” is Sarabia’s breakthrough installation, “The Gift,” previously exhibited at the 2008 Whitney Biennial.
“Sarabia’s exciting new body of work is in perfect dialogue with Arizona,” explains Morales, “in regards both to the content of the work and to its relationship to the current social climate we are experiencing, from connections to borders, the legalization and trafficking of drugs and identity issues.”
ABOUT THE EXHIBITION
On view in the Lower Level and Lobby galleries at the ASU Art Museum through April 26, 2014, “Moctezuma’s Revenge” will be the largest exhibition to date of Sarabia’s work, as well as a departure from previous exhibitions of the artist’s work in that it will showcase the depth, range and scope of his practice. An opening reception for the exhibition will be held Feb. 14, 2014, from 6:30–8:30 p.m. (with a members, alumni and press preview from 5:30–6:30 p.m.).
The majority of new work being created for this exhibition is influenced by the artist’s recent visits to Arizona. “From the beautiful distinct light of Phoenix to Yaqui ceremonial dances and to the magical of I’Itoi’s Cave,” says Morales, “Sarabia has translated Arizona into ceramic, video, fiber and works on paper.”
In conjunction with “Moctezuma’s Revenge,” the public has a rare opportunity to collect an edition of one of Sarabia’s ceramic works, made possible by a collaboration with Artspace. Proceeds from the sale of the edition will support the exhibition at the ASU Art Museum.
Artspace is an innovative new collecting platform for visual artwork co-founded by Chris Vroom, a well-known patron of the arts and an avid contemporary art collector, that offers limited editions and original works from established and emerging artists and makes them available for sale online while simultaneously supporting international museums, galleries and cultural institutions. For more information or to purchase one of Sarabia’s editions, visit artspace.com/magazine/interviews_features/eduardo_sarabia.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Eduardo Sarabia (b. 1976 ) is a Mexican-American artist who grew up in Los Angeles and presently lives and works in Guadalajara, Mexico. He is best known for his series of hand-painted ceramic vessels that, at first glance, are indistinguishable from the blue-and-white Talavera vases that tourists buy as souvenirs. However, rather than traditional floral and geometric motifs, these vases boast modern hieroglyphs of Mexican and Norteño drug culture such as marijuana leaves, guns, skulls, pin-up models, bottles of liquor, packs of cigarettes, and animals that symbolize specific drugs: the rooster, marijuana; the goat, heroin; and the parrot, cocaine. Sarabia makes reference not just to a physical border, but to a dividing line in the identity of one who feels at once familiar with and distant from his or her cultural heritage.
Sarabia’s interest in the relationship between his cultural roots and his American identity has been a constant theme in his work. Drawing inspiration from the unique and complex zone that divides Mexico from the United States, Sarabia stages intricate scenes infused with light, romanticism, humor and a sense of absurdity. From his liminal point of view, he exposes clichés about Mexican culture in order to question the imaginary borders demarcated by cultural stereotypes.
His work has been shown at Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Santa Monica Museum of Art, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Whitney Museum of American Art, LA Louver and the New Museum of Contemporary Art, as well as at the 51st Venice Biennale, the 2nd Moscow Biennale and the Istanbul Biennial, among others.
“Moctezuma’s Revenge” is curated by Julio César Morales, generously supported by the Fran Fee Memorial Fund, and organized by the ASU Art Museum, part of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at Arizona State University.
An earlier variation of this exhibition, “Tainted,” was curated by Adam Lerner and presented at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, where it was sponsored in part by David Caulkins.
ABOUT THE ASU ART MUSEUM
The ASU Art Museum, named “the single most impressive venue for contemporary art in Arizona” by Art in America magazine, is part of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at Arizona State University.
To learn more about the museum, call 480.965.2787, or visit asuartmuseum.asu.edu.
Hours: 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. on Tuesdays (during the academic year), 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. The museum is closed on Sundays and Mondays.
Location/Parking: The museum is located on the southeast corner of Mill Avenue and 10th Street in Tempe. Metered parking is available in the lot directly west of the museum entrance.
We’re sure you’ve all been eagerly wondering since the start of the school semester, ”When is the ASU Art Museum going to have another awesome art party? And when are all their cool new shows going to open?”
Well, wait no longer, for the time has come! Hope you’re resting up this weekend, because we’ve got a full schedule lined up next weekend, Sept. 26-28 at the ASU Art Museum, and we want to see your faces there.
If you’re looking for something to do between now and Sept. 26, both Christine Lee and Del Harrow will be in the Museum creating site-specific works for the Crafting a Continuum: Rethinking Contemporary Craft show.
Christine Lee started today and will be working through Sept. 26. She’s become a part of our community over the past couple of years as a Windgate visiting artist; she has taught in the School of Art and lived at Combine. She studied furniture making with the legendary Wendy Maruyama, whose show opens at the Museum on the 26th, and takes an innovative approach to working with wood. And ceramic artist Del Harrow will be installing in our lobby from Sept. 24-26, adding to Cabinet #3 (2012).
Here’s a rundown of all the happenings and can’t-miss events that we’ve got planned for the weekend of the big opening:
Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013: Kick off the weekend with what’s sure to be a great lecture from an internationally renowned artist. Jessica Jackson Hutchins will be at the ASU-Tempe campus as a featured speaker for the Jan Fisher Memorial Lecture Series, which brings established and emerging women ceramicists to the Phoenix community.
Hutchins, who currently lives and works in Portland, Ore., makes reference to everyday rituals and family life in her work, whichplaces her in the rich tradition of artists who combine the personal and the cultural. In her assemblage sculpture, she teases out notions of function and display by creating richly glazed vessels and locating them on top of or inside used furniture, such as armchairs, couches and tables, or balancing them on plinths of her own devising.
The lecture will be held in COOR 174 and begins at 7:30 p.m. It is free and open to the public. A reception with the artist will follow at the Ceramics Research Center.
Friday, Sept. 27, 2013: Visual artist and Arizona native Paul Nosa joins the ASU Art Museum for a two-day sewing performance with his Solar Sewing Rover, a portable sewing machine powered by a solar panel or a bicycle with an electric generator. Nosa will create original images, which are machine sewn on fabric patches, using word associations provided by our guests. Nosa’s goal is to inspire people’s creativity and to demonstrate alternative energy sources through his performances. This performance is co-sponsored by the Global Institute of Sustainability at ASU.
Nosa will perform twice on Friday: from noon-1:30 p.m., in the GIOS Breezeway and again from 5:30-8:30 p.m., at the ASU Art Museum front entrance. His second performance will kick start the fall season opening reception, which we’d like to think of as Tempe’s art celebration of the season. The party is from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m., with a special member’s preview at 5:30 p.m. Full details here: https://asuevents.asu.edu/season-opening-reception-fall-2013
When you’re in the museum for the reception, you’ve got a lot to check out, and you don’t want to miss any of it. Crafting a Continuum: Rethinking Contemporary Craft, Wendy Maruyama: Executive Order 9066 and This Is Not America: Protest, Resistance, Poetics are all new and on view. And, if you haven’t seen it yet, be sure to duck into the Multi-Purpose Room for Plate Silk Stone: Impressions by Women Artists from the ASU Art Museum Print Collection to see a show co-curated by one of ASU’s undergraduate students and research interns, Emma Ringness.
Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013: Don’t stay too late at the Museum having fun on Friday, because the day starts bright and early at COOR 174 with the “Flashback Forward: Rethinking Craft” Symposium, which will explore and discuss critical issues facing the field of contemporary craft. Our keynote speaker is Jenni Sorkin, with a presentation by Guest of Honor Wendy Maruyama, and lectures by artists Garth Johnson, Christine Lee, Del Harrow and Erika Hanson. There’s too much cool stuff (and it’s all free!) happening to list here, but you can view the full schedule, as well as RSVP, for Saturday’s symposium on the event page: https://asuevents.asu.edu/flashbackforward-rethinking-craft-symposium
And, if you missed him on Friday – or just can’t get enough of Paul Nosa — he’s back again on Saturday with another performance from noon – 2 p.m. in the COOR breezeway.
Whew! What a weekend! We can’t wait. And while you’re out enjoying yourselves, don’t forget to tweet and Facebook us your photos.
This Is Not America: Protest, Resistance, Poetics, on view now at the ASU Art Museum, gives a startlingly fresh look at the intersection of art and social change through allowing works to converse with one another. Curated by Julio César Morales, with assistance from ASU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences graduate student Indira Garcia, the three-part exhibition pairs works from the museum’s collection with those of emerging and established artists in a sort of “question and answer” format.
Part 1, on view now through Nov. 9, 2013, marries a painting by Cuban collective Los Carpinteros with an animated video by contemporary Seattle-based artist Paul Rucker, in an effort to “explore the power dynamics and political implications of oppression,” according to Morales.
“The exhibition title takes a cue from Alfredo Jaar’s seminal 1987 public art video intervention at Times Square in New York City, A Logo for America, a three-part video animation that plays off the notions of ‘America’ and its relationship to citizenship, homeland and borders,” says Morales.
On the east wall of the gallery hangs Dominar Bestias/How to Dominate Beasts, the watercolor painting by Los Carpinteros, whose name “derives from the historical term for skilled slave laborers,” according to Morales. Within the painting we are shown a number of household objects, such as dressers and chairs, shackled to a fence that corrals them, as though they were animals in a paddock. It is unclear whether they are being chained to the fence so that they do not escape, or whether it is the fence that is tied down to these material goods. One begins to wonder who or what is being dominated, and, beyond that, who or what the beasts are.
Across the darkened gallery is Paul Rucker’s video piece Proliferation, projected on the wall opposite the painting. Rucker was inspired to create the piece while at a “prison issues” residency at the Blue Mountain Center in the Adirondacks, when he discovered a series of maps created by researcher Rose Heyer that showed the growth of the United States prison system over time. Rucker, a musician as well as visual artist, created the durational piece from the maps and also composed the original score.
“A word that can refer to healing of a wound through rapid growth of new cells, Proliferation explores the evolution of prisons in the United States through an animated series of colored dots indicating location and number of prisons from 1778-2005,” says Morales. “The incarcerated are a relatively invisible aspect of American society… [but] the United States leads the world in the number of people behind bars.”
To Rucker’s score, each new prison appears on the projection as a dot of color, starting first as green specks and escalating in intensity into brilliant red and orange flashes. While viewing “Proliferation,” one is struck by how quickly the outline of the United States is formed, beginning first with New England, but quickly springing across the map to the West Coast. The colored dots, illuminated against a black background, echo other, similar maps, such as those illustrating light pollution from major cities, or urban sprawl.
As the piece goes on, the green dots begin to merge, turning yellow, and the music takes on a more ominous tone. The dots appear in faster succession, sprawling across the map, until there is no one section that is free of color. They evolve from isolated flashes of yellow into orange and then red masses, joining together with sharp, jolting regularity, like explosions. One feels like a cat, mesmerized, watching a laser dart around a wall. But with this feeling of not being able to look away, to stop chasing the flashes of light, the music suggest something darker, a sinking feeling in the pit of one’s stomach. This is not a game. This is serious.
The two pieces, poised opposite each other in the Americas Gallery on the second floor of the museum, both face off against one another and speak to each other. Their conversation occurs in the space between, where the viewer is invited to sit, to pace and to contemplate.
–Juno Schaser , Public Relations Intern
Part 1 of This Is Not America will close on Nov. 9, 2013, with Part 2 on view Nov. 16 2013 – March 15, 2014, and Part 3, co-curated with ASU MFA students, up from March 22 – June 6, 2014.
Artists include Facundo Arganaraz, Sandow Birk, Los Carpinteros, Juan Capristan, Enrique Chagoya, Binh Danh, Kota Ezawa, Eamon Ore-Giron, George Grosz, Ana Teresa Fernandez, Jon Haddock, Alfredo Jaar, Michael Lucero, Carrie Marill, Sanaz Mazinani, Ranu Mukherjee, Georgia O’Keeffe, Gina Osterloh, Raymond Pettibon, Michele Pred, Ken Price, Jerome Reyes, Paul Rucker, Rene Francisco Rodriguez, Fernando Rodriguez, Lorna Simpson and Adriana Varejão.
ASU School of Art senior Emma Ringness, who will graduate this December with a degree in printmaking, worked with ASU Art Museum curator Jean Makin to put together the exhibition Plate • Silk • Stone: Impressions by Women Artists from the ASU Art Museum Print Collection, which is on view at the Museum through Dec. 8.
In these figurative prints selected from the permanent collection, women artists take on social and domestic issues, as well as themes of history, culture and identity. For more information about the show, click here.
Here’s a post from Emma about her experience working on Plate • Silk • Stone:
For printmaking nerds like myself, there is no denying the thrill of sitting down to work next to a famous print by the French satirical printmaker Honoré Daumier, or viewing Roy Lichtenstein’s interpretation of the Oval Office on a daily basis.
But enough with the nerdiness: Last year I had the pleasure of serving as a research intern in the ASU Art Museum’s Jules Heller Print Study Room under its director, Jean Makin. This glorious place is home to the museum’s print collection (including that Daumier and Lichtenstein), and is heaven for print nerds and art appreciators alike.
As part of my internship, my job was to curate an exhibition of prints by women artists in the collection. This meant going through the many drawers and cabinets in which the collection is stored and getting hands-on with prints from the 16th century to today. It was a humbling experience, and for the first time made me feel connected to something bigger than myself as an artist: both to a long line of female printmakers, and to a cultural discourse in which I am a participant.
Through the process of handling the work, selecting pieces for the show, researching and writing about the artists, I was also given a perspective other than that of the creator — of someone who maintains artwork for future generations. I now fully understand the long-term care and storage required by the print medium, as well as the amount of time and energy invested by museum professionals and art historians to research and share with the public the history and social relevance of work created through the print processes. This perspective shift has, in turn, altered my approach as a creator. The beauty of having an institution like the ASU Art Museum is that this unique learning experience was available to me on campus, and during my undergraduate education — rather than during graduate school or beyond.
I am so grateful to Jean Makin for giving me this opportunity, and to the many people who make the museum’s collection available to the public on a regular basis.
Each piece in the exhibition Turn off the Sun, on view at the ASU Art Museum through Sept. 7, packs tremendous heat, power and impact. Drawn from La Colección Jumex in Mexico City, an incredible private contemporary art collection of about 2,600 works, Turn off the Sun displays two dozen of these searingly honest and beautiful pieces. This is only the second time that any of the Jumex collection has been shown in the United States.
The exhibition title did not come about from a concentrated brainstorm though, but rather from joking about the weather. During Jumex director Patrick Charpenel and curator Michel Blancsubé’s site visit to the ASU Art Museum in the summer of 2012, the two started an ongoing joke about how someone needs to “turn off the sun.” When curator Julio César Morales joined the staff in the fall and heard it, he pointed out how that’s not necessarily a joke—that’s a great name.
“When I heard this phrase, I thought it was a brilliant title, and the more it was discussed by myself and Heather Sealy Lineberry, the more we thought the title really connected with artworks in the exhibition and addressed ideas of site, adaptability and physical displacement,” Morales said.
ASU Art Museum senior curator and associate director Heather Sealy Lineberry said the museum staff became interested in the social and political implications of brining the contemporary art collection from Mexico to Arizona and how the content of the work would shift just by the very nature of having it here.
The artworks address several types of issues between Mexico and the United States, among them borders, landscape, lines, labor, politics, economics, faith and awareness.
One example is “Cuando La Fe Mueve Montañas” (“When Faith Moves Mountains”) by Francis Alÿs, a conceptual performance artist. In the multimedia installation, the artist has a group of people move a mountain with shovels to create a line, like a curious border. Another is “Security Fence” by Liza Lou, which explores dark psychological spaces of violence and confinement. Santiago Sierra’s artwork “3000 holes of 180 x 50 x 50 cm each” is a triptych of three photographs and a performance piece that he created while in southern Spain, looking across to North Africa where many immigrants come into Spain. On video Sierra highlights matters of struggle and immigration by showing the 3,000 shoveled holes, mostly dug by Senegalese and Moroccan day workers over the course of a month with a Spanish foreman overseeing the labor.
“These three pieces pulled at our imagination and were tremendous anchors for what we wanted to do with the exhibition,” Lineberry said.
In an interview with San Francisco Arts Quarterly, Blancsubé also explained, “I generally don’t choose a theme and then look for artworks to sustain or feed it… I am seduced by artworks and imagine funny games between them. The theme or the discourse comes after or during the construction, and in a way it is suggested by the artworks themselves.”
Along with the choosing of the exhibition title, another unexpected aspect of Turn off the Sun is that there are no labels next to the pieces. Instead, there is printed material at the entrance of every gallery space that includes technical information, biographies and further text about the artistic process of all the artworks. This allows people who want to make their own relationships with the work to have that possibility. With each exhibition, the museum experiments with how to provide information for the visitor, and different kinds of exhibitions warrant different information systems.
Blancsubé said the information related to the artworks is accessible for curious visitors, “but not having plaques plugged on the wall near the artworks allows visitors to have a first approach of the artworks on their own without receiving from the beginning glasses that oriented their viewing.”
“We thought the design and artworks look so clean and beautifully installed that labels would interrupt the artwork itself,” Morales said. “I was more interested in the audience having a visceral experience of the work and engaging with it without any other materials to distract from that experience.”
Though some visitors are more comfortable with text panels, many are pleasantly surprised and enjoy the practice of making their own connections with the works.
Lineberry said she sees people relating to the artworks and broadening their thoughts about the border: “I think a lot of people are coming away with a pretty amazing experience of the works individually and the process of piecing them together as a narrative in their minds.”
–Mary Grace Richardson
Images, from top: “Overpass,” by Jeff Wall; “Cuando La Fe Mueve Montañas” (“When Faith Moves Mountains”), by Francis Alÿs; “Security Fence,” by Liza Lou, and “3000 holes of 180 x 50 x 50 cm each,” by Santiago Sierra. All photos by Craig Smith.
Christine Lee takes in the disregarded, salvages the thrown away and harbors the excess. For this wood-based artist, the original intention of a material is only a hint of a much more meaningful possibility, making Lee’s artwork a process-driven venture and a thorough material investigation.
Lee’s work crosses back and forth between sculpture, furniture, woodworking and installation. As part of the ASU Art Museum’s Crafting a Continuum series, Lee has given public lectures, taught classes and installed her own work at Combine Studio in downtown Phoenix.
The Crafting a Continuum series is sponsored by a Windgate Charitable Foundation grant, which has enabled the museum to attract and support craft-based visiting artists, such as Lee, who incorporate new ideas and technologies into their artwork.
“I think they were interested that I was working with a range of composite material and creating functional and sculptural work,” Lee said. “I feel like they both can happen in the same studio space.”
Lee’s work stretches the standard associations and intended functions of ordinary materials. According to Lee, people now are looking at the material and how it is being used, but not in a way to determine which medium is better than another: “It’s not so much about the end result of what you make but how you take that material and transform it. It’s the process and where it goes.”
In this sense, public perception of what is craft art and what is fine art is changing. Lee says she believes the line between the two will either significantly blur or be completely nonexistent in the future. “People realize it’s not so much about categorizing everything,” she said. “It’s more about seeing what can happen when you start weaving things together.”
Last month Lee put together Piece by Piece, an exhibition at the ASU International Artist Residency facility at Combine Studios, in downtown Phoenix, for which she stacked slender individual pieces of wood to fan out over an entire wall. No glue, no nails — just balance. This wasn’t her first endeavor for a project like this, however. In other galleries she has created similar works on walls, spanning up to 26 by 12 feet.
With her own art, Lee strives to create substantive art that is both useful and aesthetic. She added, “It seems these days there’s more exciting work out there that straddle those areas.”
Lee finds potential in material that people casually throw out, a trait she attributes to her family’s concern about not wasting and appreciating the value of things.“We would reuse things like aluminum foil and we wouldn’t throw it away unless we absolutely knew we couldn’t use it,” she said. “And that stayed with me. I’m always very conscious about what I use and if someone throws away a scrap, I’m like, ‘That’s perfectly usable.’”
As part of her residency Lee taught a class for the Fall 2012 semester — ART 494/598, Sustainable Wood Art, an upper division seminar in the wood program of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts — which she is teaching the Spring 2013 semester as well. Lee’s students use composite boards formed by collecting sawdust and fibers and putting the raw materials into processing chambers. Prototypical, a show on view in December and January in Wrigley Hall, home to ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability and School of Sustainability, highlighted work Lee’s students made using a patent-pending interior composite panel developed by Lee and research engineer John F. Hunt of the USDA Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory. The panels are naturally bonded without an adhesive binder such as urea or phenol formaldehyde and are biodegradable.
What Lee enjoys most about teaching is watching her students as they grow to understand the process and connect with what they make. “Teaching for me is really exciting because I like the dynamics between interacting with people who are very excited about learning something new, and I also like watching them kind of see that transformation of material happen,” she said.
By encouraging recycling and reuse, her students have initiated a sustainable practice in their work. Peter Held, the curator of ceramics at the museum, said the students’ work has evolved as they applied the lessons they learned in Lee’s clas: “ [She] is not only a talented and innovative artist but is exploring the intersections of art, craft, design and application of new materials in her artistic practice. This interdisciplinary approach to the arts is an important initiative for the museum. When Lee taught the wood class, she brought fresh ideas and techniques to the students.”
Maren Romney, a senior sculpture major and former student of Lee, explained she more consciously considers the materials she uses when making art after taking Lee’s class. “[Her] class… helped me to understand what I can do on an individual level,” Romney said. “She really did a great job of creating discussions about the importance of sustainable design and living and brought up points from multiple points of view, which I really appreciate.”
Romney added she feels privileged to have taken a class under Lee’s direction, and she hopes Lee makes Arizona a permanent home.
During her time in Phoenix and Tempe, Lee has found a wealth of possibilities.
“I feel like there is so much to tap in here,” Lee said. “I just felt it was very serendipitous that I could be here working on this.”
–Mary Grace Richardson
To see more images of Christine Lee’s show at Combine, visit the ASU Art Museum International Artists Residency at Combine Studios Facebook page.