A Cunning Array of Stunts
Oasis teeters between familiar and fantastical worlds. Andy Davis, Dana Hemenway, and J Noland shift expectations of the vernacular using abstraction to invite intimate interactions encouraging slow looking and attention through illusion, imagination, and instruction. The artists’ invitations to self-reflect center questions that continue to arise in the pandemic like structures of stability, methods to process emotions, and ways to engage in experiences from afar.
Dana Hemenway’s experiments with utilitarian objects and ceramics poke holes in notions of structure and stability. Industrial lights emiting continuous beams of light weave seamlessly through gallery walls, anchored with ceramics disguised as metal fittings. Cast from 3D-printed molds, undulating ceramic tiles create a sea of bodily polyp forms across the floor, referencing the violence associated with Carl Andre and his floor sculptures and societal expectations of domestic spaces. Hemenway’s transformation of function, intention, and perception reflect the ability to redefine and transverse spaces creating pliant maneuvers through confines and borderlines of stringent political systems, gender structures, and built environments.
Andy Davis’ work dissolves boundaries between humans and landscape and is the result of quiet findings and attentive time spent with natural materials. During the pandemic, Davis re-introduced himself to local parks and green spaces near his home in Philadelphia. His art practice is a place to process emotions and through the grinding of rocks, filtering and foraging pigments, and making brushes from carcasses, it became a meditative process of making tools. Annunciations reward close-looking and imagination. Working in an improvisational mode of painting, each mark and shape responds to the previous one, allowing the forms to direct their own next steps. Referencing the imaginative creatures in the margins of medieval books, Davis’ forms morph from birds to tigers to floras and fields as they enter ambiguous moments sweeping and swirling across the paper. The process of making and looking is one of pleasure and intensive slowness, fueled by the invitation to lose oneself in abstract landscapes.
Known for structuring meaningful engagements in exhibition spaces, J Noland creates opportunities for shared experiences. When the pandemic hit, the question of how to create relational experiences without physically gathering provided an opportunity to turn inward. Meditative practices and experimentation with psychedelics provided experiences of intense self-dissolution and reflection. A found image of a Phoenician anchor in Noland’s home greets and acts as a constant each passing day. The weighted object resting in the overgrown grass plays on the double-meaning of grounding providing a familiar image through the wait of uncertainty. Creating a print, Noland offers a series of takeaways for visitors to live with and attach their own meaning to the image. Noland’s tokens of generosity are invitations to encourage time for oneself and self-exploration, now and post-pandemic.
The title Oasis, nods to a space providing rest and relief. The works on view reward close-looking and vulnerability guided by the artists given or unspoken instructions. Oasis also hints at the return back to the exhibition space as a designated place to process and feel through in-person interactions with works on view and one another. Acknowledging the expansive use of “oasis” as a term that encapsulates a break from reality, the exhibition hopes to recognize the oasis-like moments of presentness, warmth, and joy through turbulent times that, in return, advance our sense of self and provide understanding about contemporary realities.
ACRE Projects @ Drama Club
2439 S Oakley Avenue
Chicago , IL 60608
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