Clothes Shoes

Holly Morrison, Planet Aid (detail), 2013. Ultrachrome print, 8 x 9 inches, Courtesy Holly Morrison.

Clothes Shoes, a re-appropriated urban re-signing found on a Richmond thrift-recycling bin, describes not only the context, but perhaps the demographic of current graduate artists’ work. The found marker resonates with a generations’ zeitgeist—the urgency of creating and presenting their output as young artists in a climate of increasingly shrinking economic circumstance, and a recycling in the shadow of all that has gone before.

The mediated disaster of Jurassic Park is reclaimed through analog performance in Ander Mikalson’s Score for Dinosaurs. Matthew Shelton’s All Souls is a project that carries the traces of his activist work in post-Katrina New Orleans. Nikolai Noel subtly bridges issues of race, class, and transience via stenciled interventions and their remnants. Social dispossession is echoed in Reid Ramirez’s House Uninhabited—created in response to the aftermath of the foreclosure crisis, and in Sam Winks critical video reconstructions, appropriated from the broken synapse of social media.

The ordinary is redeemed in Rachel Cohn’s keenly observed, shamelessly human worlds within worlds. George Gittins’ work is broken open—felt and vulnerable—standing on the outside, painted on the inside. Mayme Donsker’s practice is synesthetic—the unexceptional is elevated through the fusion of fragment and monotone. Vlad Smolkin’s own well-used soccer boots, half burnt from being filled with molten bronze, inform the body’s absence and assert powerful reminders of the ephemeral. Scott Whipkey’s cool monotone shrines—sourced in the cultural loss of anti-hero, Kurt Cobain—reflect a generation’s loss, and the viewer’s impermanence.

The temporality of nature is couched in Loie Hollowell’s highly crafted fantasy worlds of sex and succulence, while Raewyn Martyn’s site-sensitive, destabilized painted installations challenge the cultural temporality of painting. The influence of virtual collage on the ability to imagine, sample and reconfigure is revealed in Amanda Baldwin’s tightly constructed paintings that measure self, site, and artifice; and in Veronika Pausova’s works, where personal psychology and surreal fiction are reflected in the facture of paint. Resampling is overtly played out in Andy Merrow’s practice. Appropriating from everything, he seeks sharp polemic outcomes to underscore the post-cultural condition.

These artists reflect the potential of now with questions raised about the limits of the moment—the virtual, the social, the political, direct action, low culture, high culture—are all accessible. There are photographs, video projections, paintings, prints, and objects. This exhibition of fifteen recent alumni is curated by Nigel Rolfe, artist and Visiting Professor at the Royal College of Art, London.

Participating Clothes Shoes artists are Amanda Baldwin, Rachel Leah Cohn, Mayme Donsker, George Gittins, Loie Hollowell, Raewyn Martyn, Andy Merrow, Ander Mikalson, Nikolai Noel, Veronika Pausova, Reid Ramirez, Matthew P Shelton, Vladislav Smolkin, R. Scott Whipkey, and Sam Winks.

About VCUarts
VCUarts is ranked as the #1 public university school of arts and design in the country. Our graduate students have excelled, and their accomplishments along with those of alumni, have helped to garner this reputation. Importantly is its research standing which makes VCUarts the number one program within a Carnegie Research University. VCUarts graduate Painting + Printmaking course is a meeting ground of media, histories, and culture. It is a unique hothouse bounded by both the hand made and the reprographic.

Currently, however, any formal descriptor is no longer clear or certain, with a wide range of media and materials utilized to push possibilities through varied approaches. Students study in an environment that gives them access to faculty that are scholars and arts practitioners of the highest order recognized globally. As graduates of our programs, they are leaders in their fields, receiving Guggenheim Fellowships, MacArthur “Genius” Awards, Academy Awards, Joan Mitchell Awards in the Visual Arts, and Pollock-Krasner Awards, among others.

Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts – White Box
Clothes Shoes
May 23–June 15
Opening Reception: Thursday, May 23, 6–8pm

(press release)

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