Artists: Lara Lepionka, Jennifer Talbot, Christine Tarkowski, Anne Wilson
Lara Lepionka’s public, community-based art acknowledges and celebrates the identities of service workers. Her project, Identifying Marks, and it's accompanying project, Visible Links, were the result of a collaboration with a restaurant and its staff in which workers expressed themselves as individuals in the food service industry through imbuing place settings with their own ideas and opinions on the work they perform. Food service workers' personal statements are engraved into flatware, etched into plates and glasses, and embroidered into napkins and then used by the restaurant in its daily operation.
Jennifer Talbot's performance and video, Cherry Picker, was an investigation into necessary and prescribed activities of the human body: desire, appetite, consumption, nourishment, and depletion. A pristine white tablecloth fitted over twelve-foot table spills over onto the ground creating an image of a bride's train, seemingly controlling and restricting the posture and manners of the performer. As the performer dined on the pile of cherries upon the surface of the cloth, first in rapid obsession and finally in utter exhaustion, an intrinsic relationship between the body and objects was established.
Christine Tarkowski’s Cabin was both a physical presentation of a house, located within the confines of the gallery, and a photographic presentation of the shelter, documenting its virtual location within the urban landscape. Constructed from synthetic materials, similar to those used in the manufacture of tents and tarps, the form of the house approximated the dimensions and layout of the dwelling once inhabited by Theodore John Kaczynski, the Unabomber. In this work, domestic notions of safety and shelter were confronted with contradictions by the potential threats of fear and bodily harm.
Anne Wilson's A Chronicle of Days is a collection of 100 framed panels of torn pieces of white damask tablecloth embroidered with small spots of human hair. Tiny stitches hold the hairs in place, referencing a particularly gendered history of stitchery, self-preservation, and bodily security. Vestigial remnants of individual existence and beauty, the panels are overwhelmingly in their relic-like presentation, functioning as a physical evidence of a life lived.
Collectively, these artists may be seen to situate their endeavors within the unarticulated gap between material and experience~ their works occupy a liminal space critically informed by each artist's practice - and process-oriented concerns. In a sense, these artists may be seen to have achieved a realization of the avant-garde ideal to move art unequivocally, into the physical sphere of life, removing art from its cloistered position of privilege and separation through an active utilization of elemental and familiar detritus. Reflecting integration between the once distinct categories or artistic production and theory, the works are presented as compulsively formal applications of play and ritual, simultaneously immediate and enigmatic. Emerging from within the traditional boundaries and mandates of the fiber and materials discipline, the works of these four artists on display together at Gallery 400 provided the viewer with an examination into the nature of the increasingly decentralized and demystified relationship between the experience of art and the materials of life.