Contemporary Art Gallery | The Artist’s Studio is Her Bedroom

Artists: Steven Brekelmans (BMA 1998), Justine A. Chambers, Brady Cranfield, Maura Doyle (BFA 1997), Claire Greenshaw, Leisure (Meredith Carruthers & Susannah Wesley), Annie MacDonell, Erica Stocking (BFA 2004), Damla Tamer
Dates: January 24 – April 5, 2020
B.C. Binning and Alvin Balkind Galleries

Erica Stocking, ‘The Artist’s Studio: A real allegory summing up seven years of my artistic and moral life’, 2014. Courtesy the artist

The Artist’s Studio is Her Bedroom begins from the premise that the patriarchal conditions we inherited from modernism have profoundly shaped assumptions about where and by what means “serious” artwork gets produced. This exhibition shares the perspectives of ten artists whose practices are attentive to these assumptions, and to the very real temporal, spatial and monetary constraints that bind and shape their work. Their contributions to the show address a multitude of labours—whether physical, emotional, reproductive or otherwise—that are often inextricable from artistic production. Some question myths of the studio and the “magical” labour of the artist. Others explore unconventional models of authorship, including the entanglement of childcare and creative work. Each, in different ways, asks how we navigate (or resist) our artistic and political inheritances, and how we might seek out alternate role models and alliances through which to better strengthen our creative communities.

The exhibition takes its name from the title of Erica Stocking’s (BFA 2004) sculptural installation and theatrical performance, which offers an anchor point in the show. The Artist’s Studio is Her Bedroom: a choreographed statement on autobiographical art making (2019) extends to visitors a participatory framework through which to explore the porosity of subjecthood from the perspective of a woman practicing art alongside motherhood. Stocking’s artistic practice is emphatically enmeshed in her domestic life. Her subject matter, materials and collaborative process all draw from that which is close at hand. Within the installation, visitors can don dazzle-patterned costumes and self-organize to rehearse the script. Collapsing time, space and psyche, the play offers an allegory through which Stocking weaves meditations on her own experience together with references to historic women artists whose undervalued, boundary-defying practices figured prominently in her own artistic development.

The wry, conceptually-driven work of Maura Doyle (BFA 1997) similarly considers her own life as the subject of exploratory, material-based investigations. Doyle has been working in clay since she became a single parent; her early work in the medium saw her hand-forming replicas of things that populated her home (bottle of olive oil, can of tomatoes, dish soap). The creation of such modestly-scaled objects in her kitchen could be accomplished as time permitted while minding her son, and enacted a subtle resistance to presumptions about how and at what scale a critically-engaged art practice is sustained. Pot Experiments (2014-2019), with surfaces blackened from the smoke of open barrel-firing, is part of the artist’s ongoing series Who the Pot? (2014-present) and considers this ceramic form as a mode of self-portraiture. For Doyle, pots offer a metaphor for the isolation of human experience—particularly parenting—and the irreconcilability of our inner and outer worlds.

Steven Brekelmans (BMA 1998) has also built his artistic practice around an examination of the hierarchy of materials and value that persists in today’s contemporary art market. For a number of years, life circumstances relegated his practice to the realm of an activity pursued only in his “spare time.” Eventually Brekelmans’ work began to shape itself around the very idea of a hobby as he explored, through different scales and materials, how and in what milieux our time and skills are understood to have worth. The Gift / The Climb / The Curse (Billiard Table) (2020) presents a suite of object forms upon a stepped plywood platform. Small sculptures, assembled from toothpicks and modelling clay and referencing the abstraction of modernists such as Barbara Hepworth or Henry Moore, are placed atop second-hand leaded-glass lamps of the sort typically found above rumpus room billiards tables. Through this assemblage Brekelmans negotiates the uncomfortable relationship between two seemingly antagonistic inherited visual languages, their underlying indicators of class and frameworks of value.

Winter Exhibition Opening
Thursday, January 23, 7 – 9pm

Artist’s Roundtable
Saturday, January 25, 3pm

Open Studio | Conversations with Magic Forms
Saturday, January 25, 12 – 3pm

[text from Contemporary Art Gallery]

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