HomeSeptember 14 - November 22, 2014
Curated by Meridith McNeal
334 Grand Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11238
Open to the public Sundays 12-6 and by appointment
- Flávia Berindoague
- Catherine de Zágon
- Giuseppe Di Lelio
- Valerie Hegarty
- Susan Hamburger
- Greg Kloehn
- Don Lambert
- Felix Plaza
- Rachel Rath
- Diana Rickard
- Deborah Simon
- Amanda Williams
- Carrie Mae Weems
September 14 – November 22, 2014
Opening reception Sunday September 14, 4-6pm
In his 1986 Governor General’s Award-nominated book Home: A Short History of an Idea, Witold Rybczynski gives us the perfect groundwork to open the dialogue about this exhibition: “Home brought together the meanings of house and of household, of dwellings and of refuge, of ownership and affection. Home meant the house, but also everything that was in it and around it. As well as the people and the sense of satisfaction and contentment that all these conveyed.” I’d say, rather, a spot-on description that gives some real heft to the adage “home is where the heart is.”
Let’s start with the people. Felix Plaza’s gum bichromate and silkscreen print and his tiny house sculptures made from prints are about his memories of his childhood homes. Felix explains, “I am a product of orphanage and foster home.” His series Mi Casa, Su Casa invites viewers to find iconic images and symbols that may spur their own memories. Growing up with an artist father meant that there was little time for boredom in Diana Rickard’sapartment as a child. When Diana and her brother had “nothing to do,” their dad’s response was always, “Let’s make something!” Diana still takes that advice to heart, and has been beading usable household objects ever since, transforming mundane tools into magical machines.
Family units are often multi-generational and can include both biological and chosen family members. The home, no matter what it looks like, is where our tribe gathers. We often interchange language describing our homes and their rooms with words we use for the animal kingdom – nest, den; in current parlance, man-cave; or, when things get really out of hand, pigpen. In her mixed-media sculptural installation of a colony of bats dangling from the ceiling entitled Roost, Deborah Simon depicts that animal instinct of the family home.
A basic function of a dwelling is to keep its inhabitants safe, in ways ranging from protection against the elements and inclement weather to security against intruders. Valerie Hegarty points out that her sculptures of crockery that appear to be riddled with gunshots are relevant to current home-life in Israel/Palestine, which – as author/theology professor Dr. Salim J. Munayer says – “may be the most intractable conflict of our time.” While we in the United States are not now experiencing the peril of living in a war-torn environment, according to the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty in 2014, there are over 1,750,000 homeless Americans – people who do not even have protection from weather. Artist Greg Kloehn constructs compact abodes on wheels using discarded materials. On view is a micro-home that will be spruced up by Rush Kids and Teens during the exhibition, and then given away. Kloehn says his work is not a permanent solution; in the wake of growing concern for people living in poverty and for the environment, though, it is a temporary fix and a humane gesture to keep people safe while also recycling used materials.
Neighborhoods are the areas we live in. They can be defined by history, the people who live there, or even the real estate market. Chicago-based artist/architect Amanda Williams’s Color(ed) Theory: Homage to an Englewood Block is an ongoing project in which Williams is painting (and reinvigorating) abandoned homes in Chicago’s South Side, using a color palette she has developed of hues that are significant and have associations with home to Chicago’s South Side black community. On view is a photographic piece documenting the project. As a newcomer to an area, a person can feel a range of emotions, from comfort to unease. Rachel Rath’s photograms, created while living in London, reflect on the emotional ideas of being lost and adrift in a new place. Giuseppe Di Lelio’sdrawings explore the generation, decay, and regeneration of the built environment surrounding his home in Sperlonga, Italy along the Tyrrhenian Sea, something that we New Yorkers often have mixed feelings about, as the bodega on the corner becomes a fancy café and the empty lot a new high-rise.
The homes humans build reflect their environment, available resources, and economic means. Catherine de Zágon has called many places home. Her compassionate and strikingly composed photographs show us the beauty and comfort of indigenous Vietnamese homes and their occupants. Don Lambert’s photographs chronicle the poignant “homecoming” between family remaining in Cuba and those who have left to forge a new life in Miami. Brazilian-born artist Flávia Berindoague has created two pieces that call to mind an animal hide made of institutional blankets, ubiquitous in Brazil and used for protection by homeless people, prisoners, and moving companies. The painted text on these pieces takes a critical look at the artist’s homeland and its failure to provide protection at a more humane level.
From the battered wobbly table in the corner that belonged to Great Aunt Barbara to the sleek modern chair near the front window, the objects in our home can come to represent us as people. Susan Hamburger’s ink drawings of stacks of her morning coffee cups and kitchen plates become an obsessive self-portrait of sorts. In a recent New York Times review of photographer Carrie Mae Weems’s retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum, Holland Cotter writes,“In a sense, much of Ms. Weems’s art radiates out from this point: from home, you might say, into the world.” I agree. Her photographs included in Home eloquently bring to mind our capacity to make a home just about anywhere. Be it a temporary housing facility, high-rise apartment, brick row house, or limestone mansion, what makes that structure a home is you.
This exhibition will serve as a teaching tool for 2014/15 Rush Education Programs in our Year of Home.
Meridith McNeal, Curator
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