The David Winton Bell Gallery is excited to present Going Nowhere: Alumni Artists in Providence. The exhibition features six alumni artists who have chosen to live and work in Providence since graduating from Brown University. Notable for their commitment to the city's distinctive creative community and for their social connectedness to each other, the artists featured in this exhibition make aesthetically diverse work rooted in experimentation and play. For Going Nowhere, Peter Glantz '98, Kevin Hooyman '98, Xander Marro '98, Jenny Nichols '01, David Udris '90, and Tatyana Yanishevsky '05 have each produced new works in practices that range from performance to printmaking. In this exhibition, narratives of the simple and fantastic are complicated by tensions between wildness and structure, density and ephemerality, and specificity and largeness.
In Kevin Hooyman's simple yet introspective drawings, autobiographical vignettes rendered in ink are juxtaposed with painted scenes of surreal creatures, landscapes, and people. Image and text gesture towards each other but do not resolve into singular narratives. Similarly, Tatyana Yanishevsky's whimsical knit sculptures resist categorization. These hanging objects hover between the figuration of anatomically correct flora and the abstraction of biomorphic forms. The natural world is also source material for David Udris, whose abstractions begin from photographs of ice crystallizing on glass. From these images he isolates and enhances patterns into densely layered topographies of color. Deceptively tactile, these manipulated images reflect the changing nature of photographic practice in the digital age.
Jenny Nichols' bright silkscreened prints depict impossible landscapes and chimerical animals. Often produced as announcements for underground performances, these works are a testament to a thriving national DIY scene, for which Providence has been a driving force. As such, they draw attention to the interdisciplinary and collaborative nature of artistic production in Providence. Like much of the work in this exhibition, Nichols' posters inhabit multiple identities. At once functional, produced in the service of other cultural projects, they also serve as formative aesthetic objects, which Nichols develops further in her fine art prints and small paintings.
Xander Marro is also a prolific poster artist who works across a variety of media. Her eclectic range of imagery includes disembodied limbs, Victorian-era women, and Russian onion domes. The patchwork blankets on display here combine segments of fabric printed with the same lexicon of pictograms as her posters. Marro's quilts also bear witness to Providence's underground culture, while evoking an iconic form of American folk art. For this exhibition, she has arranged blankets into the walls of a temporary movie theater. Viewers are invited to enter into this quilted world of her construction and discover more about her fantastical process.
A theater and film director who works both underground and in the public eye, Peter Glantz also develops experimental performances. For this exhibition he has created a guided tour of his peers' work. Poignant and delightful, Glantz' performances take place in whimsical, slightly unfamiliar realities that nonetheless find meaningful connections with audience members.
Providence has played a critical role in fostering an embrace of the liminal for the artists in Going Nowhere. On the margins of New York, the capital of the art world, it is precisely Providence's peripheral status that, in the words of Glantz, enables artists to "work inexpensively and experiment outside of the typical demands of high capital." The city's abundance of abandoned and affordable live/work spaces has encouraged the emergence of collectives such as the feminist Dirt Palace, which Marro co-founded in 2000 in an abandoned library in Olneyville, and multi-disciplinary spaces such as Building 16, where Yanishevsky lived until the building's inhabitants were evicted in 2013. As Glantz notes, the city attracts "people who are focused more on creating a culture and community through art and performance than their own individual careers." The work produced for Going Nowhere demonstrates the generative potential of this communal artistic environment.
Curated by Jori Ketten '02, with Alexis Lowry Murray '07