A garden is one of numerous strange concepts that we are unconsciously too familiar with. It is a liminal space boasting nature's beauty of great variety; it is an artificial landscape offering an escape with the promise of return. The Persian garden is described by philosopher Michel Foucault as the oldest example of heterotopia - a microcosm physically and conceptually isolated from both urban and natural environments.
Heterotopia is a concept developed from Utopia by Foucault in his essay “Of Other Spaces”. While utopia refers to an imagined ideal society that doesn't exist, heterotopia is an alternative world reconfigured from the dominant, everyday reality. Everything that the heterotopia contains also exists in our surroundings, yet those elements operate in its own enclosed context, outside of any established norms. Other examples of heterotopias include: a cemetery, a music festival, Zoom meeting rooms, ships, prisons, and museums - alienated spaces with their unique practices and rituals.
Heterotopic Garden invites you to enter this room, to participate in a variety of alternative worlds and consider: How do people interact with these other worlds? How do heterotopias challenge or reinforce reality? Could heterotopia be both utopic or dystopic?Opening: April.19th 7:30 pm EST
Ban Anatomy's artistic expression is driven by an empathetic connection to the overlooked, neglected, or even forsaken elements of our world. Her work delves into the concepts of substance and futility, exploring the deeper meanings beneath seemingly mundane objects with a non-hierarchical curiosity. The leather banana peels featured in this series are born from the artist's daily routine of consuming a banana in her studio, which has taken on a symbolic significance.
Each banana peel's shape was carefully traced onto a piece of leather, then cut out and meticulously painted on the inner and outer surfaces, capturing the unique color and texture of the original peel. Each handcrafted leather banana skin is then embossed with "Florence, Genuine Leather, made in Italy," using a 200-pound press, grounding the piece in authenticity and tradition.
These soft sculptural banana peels are now integrated into a conventional canvas painting, uncovering the hidden layers of meaning in everyday objects. These collages of experiences and memories that took shape during a period of isolation and reflection brought on by the quarantine questioned what's seemingly trivial, and acted as a probe into human connection and resilience.
Garrett Owen Gilbart
Transforming discarded industrial artifacts with intricately hand cut patterns, the artist explores the fading aura of utility and memory that these used objects exude, while contrasting organic structures taken from nature against the salvaged industrial decay.
By referencing the abandoned cars from factory, scrap yards and farmlands, the artist draws attention to the ephemeral nature of global industrial based economic models, labor rights and environmental degradation. The silhouetted forms of native wild plants and other botanical forms are carefully recreated and cut into the salvaged steel objects, patterns often referenced from William Morris and the Arts and Crafts Movement. The resulting forms resemble lichen, coral, and other natural forms. The medium of steel questions the planet's industrial spaces and the contamination caused by human industrial capabilities. Lichen, a primitive species of fungi, is an indicator of air quality, serves as a poignant symbol of the degradation of our natural world. The artist reimagined a a merging of contexts and existences that offers a range of relatable experiences and a dense web of access points for viewers to engage with, both conceptually and emotionally.
Jade Yu Han
First painted in March 2020, this self portrait served as both an outlet and company for the artist as she painted down her calmness and anxieties while sheltering at home alone. Self portraiture has long been artists' way of introspection, and it was of particular importance for female artists since the Renaissance, which removed themselves from the typical objectification of the female form as depicted by male artists.
In the depicted fantasy land filled with creatures both real and imaginary, the artist is reading, as she appreciated segregation as an opportunity to be self-reflective. Various symbols were woven into the colorful imagery to reveal the dreamy and tranquil in the quotidian. Extending beyond all four borders of the composition are intricate petals, stems, leaves. In the book she held, a page is filled with pomegranates, a repeating motif in her work, making reference to fertility symbolism in medieval art. Representation of blooms and reproductive organs of the plants suggested both exploration of and reconciliation with modern femininity and feminism. Marine lives also roam the frame untethered from the rules of the physical world, channeling the artist's fears and anxieties during this time of unprecedented uncertainties. The artist modeled herself in a green dress, yet painted a red dress in the final work. The work went through multiple phases of modification overtime and was finalized three years after first being painted, recording the evolution and reinvention of the artist’s practice, marking the start and the end of the pandemic in her own time.
Fascinated with fire ecology and interested in deconstruction and reconstruction activities concerning the ecosystem, the artist creates her work through unique processes combining painting and performance. Covering the canvas with snow, the artist lay naked on the canvas and left marks through her movements in snow. Chinese inks are then dropped on the surface, resulting in unpredictable traces as the ink merges with and permeates the melting snow. Overtime, the piling, thawing, and layering of snow imprinted by the artist's movement and blending of the ink together leaves an image reminiscent of landscape. The imagery is then created by tracing the negative shape of the human figure.
The artist's work was influenced by the idea of "living with trouble" in the "pluralistic path" ideology, which focuses on how humans and nature are affected by environmental changes caused by both human activity and natural processes. As her research is rooted in individualism and naturalism, the artist’s multidisciplinary approach aims to enter the realm of understanding our relationship with the environment in a metaphorical way.
Descripted in this drawing was a space located between Utopian cities from those of world's fair and science fiction and images of decay and disaster reminiscent of Hieronymus Bosch. Boomtown is a psycho-geographic space created in response to the state of flux that technological and cultural architecture seems to be experiencing. The artist perceives this state of flux as coming from narratives of progress surrounding the tech industry and narratives of decay coming from the state of the environment and the current economic climate.
In Boomtown, the architecture conforms to a perspective grid but the sense of scale gets confused when objects are compared to one another.The re-configuration/conflation of signs puts the viewer in the midst of an adventure in which he/she must reconcile and make sense of the images. It invites the viewers to enter a process of discovery, reorienting to the new visual environment. This approach is similar to the creation of Boomtown, where the searching for reference points mimics the artist's own search for reference in a cultural terrain with constantly shifting booms and busts; speaking to the uncomfortable, yet ever present tension between making and unmaking of the world.
Rooted in the artist's reflection on the lost knowledge in connection to the psychic oddity of the land and plants surrounding us, this work attempts to converse with human's fringed relationship with poisonous plants.
"Entangled within the wildflowers, lies an imposter of their beauty and close cousin of our supermarket staples. Remembered through the rigorous research of scientists, old and new, yet remains widely unknown in the public's eyes. Except for when tragedy strikes a naive forager, or when an eager philosophy student learns about your connection to Socrates, though you are wrongly accused to be the cause of his death.
For you can bring death to both the ill informed or the expert botanist, due to the labyrinth of misidentification and misinformation which surrounds you.
We should know that your hairless stems are wine-stained, and that your leaves reek of urine when crushed. That even if the smallest flower, leaf, or seed is ingested; our heart rate will quicken, and body temperature will plummet. Your conine poison will slowly intoxicate our nerves leading to muscle paralysis, respiratory arrest, and finally death. You have no cure that we know of, yet we are no longer taught how to identify you from the crowd.
How could we become illiterate about what grows within our backyards, ravines, and ditches? We brought you here with purpose, upon our boats as a medicinal remedy, and you have flourished in this new land. We used you for scirrhous, epilepsy, abortions, and asthma until 1934, but after studying your toxicity for hundreds of years, we learned that you could not be our cure. Today, you have been left behind to grow wild on the roadside; and we have become unaware of your poisonous presence."
The Trade (2022) is a mesmerizing and meditative animation crafted with classic stop motion technique, captured frame by frame. Each moment suspended in time, viewed from above through the lens of a digital camera, as if peering into a world of delicate drawings etched upon multiple planes of glass below. For Truong, the artist behind this wondrous creation, animation is more than mere motion; it is an expression of their passion for transcending the boundaries of traditional drawing, liberating it from the static confines of the two-dimensional plane. Truong’s work provides the imaginary viewpoint of a feminist naturalist from another realm, one who undertakes their labor with great detail and care to depict the part-flora, part-creature figures by observing them in their natural environments devoid of the male presence or familiar social or biological guidelines. Her figures are often seen contorted, frolicking, consuming, nurturing, conquering, and entangled in environments where you are unsure where limb ends and leaf begins. Through her artistry, Truong takes us to journey beyond the limits of our imagination, to explore new realms of wonder and beauty, and to marvel at the boundless potential of the human spirit.
4/29 - 5/18
Grad Gallery - Room 101 - 205 Richmond St. W