ASSEMBLAGE: AN ORGANICALLY GROWN EXHIBITION
ASSEMBLAGE: An Organically Grown Exhibition is a current exhibition in Culture Lab, which has been expanding since opening in December 2017. Each new additional work shifts the relative meaning of the whole. Final artworks on display play off of each other to provoke social commentary on the function of commerce and public spaces.
ASSEMBLAGE was inspired by the expansive environment left behind by a former department store. Merchandise cases, once home to accessories, makeup, apparel, and products, now become ready-made pedestals for art. With the memory of a bustling store still present on the collective consciousness, the reality of what is left behind magically becomes a new destination for cultural endeavor to be shaped and nurtured. Related Companies, the owner and manager of the space, invited Culture Corps to curate and invite artists to add both existing and site-specific work into the expansive ground floor, transforming the space into a conceptual laboratory where art addresses the human condition. The completed experiment is activated by visitors, who play a vital role as both witnesses to and participants in a cultural transformation.
Featured artists include: Amy Gross, Bruce High Quality Foundation, Candy Chang, Danny Rozin, Glenn Kaino, Ioanna Pantazopoulou, Ivan Navarro, Jennifer Steinkamp, Olek, Phillip Estlund, Sarah Knouse, and Willie Cole.
Gross’ hand embroidered and beaded fiber sculptures create a soft green world that is frozen in time. Cleared of its original purpose, the accessories department is now spotted by Gross’ handmade spores, serving as the perfect environment for her birds and bees to colonize and adapt.
BRUCE HIGH QUALITY FOUNDATION
Both works portray a mix of humor and social critiques. Each sculptural collection puts our collective history, along with the detritus of humans, on display. Referencing the materiality and abandonment of items, these pieces take on a new meaning in their current location: a once thriving shopping center.
Chang’s Before I Die project explores the ways that walls in our cities help us grapple with death and the meaning of community. This piece is a participatory installation that serves as a memento mori for individuals to reflect upon their mortality with neighbors and passersby. This work reimagines the ways we remember what really matters in an age of increasing distraction and flux.
Mirror No. 12 is a screen-based work that processes live imagery captured from a webcam using custom software built by the artist. Using an image processing technique based on the rotational transformation of lines, the result is an impressionistic mirror composed of linear strokes. Darwinian Rotating Lines Mirror is inspired by Darwin's theory of evolution, in which random mutations become the basis for natural selection. Each mirror varies the following formal properties: line, luminosity, and tempo.
A hidden motor spins an Aeron chair at an extreme velocity. Spinning within its steel and Plexiglas vitrine, the chair loses its distinguishing features to become a blurred form that resembles a chalice. The Siege Perilous is a disruption in the certainty of two objects, one real, the other imagined, now in a state of perpetual indeterminacy.
Pantazopoulou's vibrant interactive work consists of nine unique hammocks woven with common, but curious objects. Hung in a carousel-like display lush with local plants, T.E.E. is a monument exploring a unique, dreamy, and fantastical journey. The installation reintroduces movement into a recently inert environment.
Navarro organizes shipping containers, one-way mirrors, and neon tubing for visitors to literally and figuratively reflect on the idea of static objects. Navarro’s installations seem to bend expectations of reality, rendering illusion as reflection. The work invokes a fourth dimension, expanding the confines of space and imagination.
Drawing on the history of the Macy’s department store, Steinkamp’s masterfully rendered digital artwork is playfully site-specific. Depicting large scale, gently swaying pearls in the former jewelry department, the piece is an homage to what once was. Viewers are invited to contemplate the history of the space, while imagining a new vision of what is to come.
Olek’s massive colorful crochet spider, titled When It’s Real You Know It, examines feminist ideas and the evolution of communication. Pushing the boundaries of craft and public art, Olek plays with the viewers’ sense of scale and definition.
Through colors and conceptual exploration, Olek’s work examines sexuality, feminism, and the evolution of communication, all with meticulous detail become the basis for natural selection.
Using found materials, including both the detritus from the built and natural worlds, Estlund’s installation appears to emerge from, or perhaps melt into, its environment. Aiming to illustrate and imagine the inevitability and finality of decay, his work nonetheless speaks to the potential for future growth amid the visual stew that is our contemporary landscape.
Inhabiting the former retail environment where household goods were once sold, Knouse’s work explores themes of ornamentation and superficial grandeur as they occur on a domestic scale. From distorted animal figures, to whimsically transformed furniture, her work harkens back to antique décor while acknowledging the complicated relationship between humans and the natural world.
Cole’s repurposed shoe masks, are visceral artworks that communicate potent and distinct messages about both discarded materials and African history. Installed in a former department store, these works take on new meaning by transforming obsolete footwear into fine art. Both a tribute to traditional art and the space’s previous use, these masks convey intuitive and unspoken narrative power.