BRIC is pleased to present Handmade Abstract, an exhibition of 13 artists at varying stages of their careers who are dedicated to the visual language of abstraction and who ground their work in everyday, physical realities. The exhibition will focus on artists who employ a broad range of materials and processes, and who imbue their work with a sense of the handmade, tactile, and quirky. Many of the artists use found or recycled materials, and many use fabrication techniques and materials drawn from the worlds of handicraft or domesticity. BRIC House is located at 647 Fulton Street in Downtown Brooklyn. Gallery hours are Tuesday–Friday, 10am–8pm; Saturday and Sunday, 10am–6pm; and closed Mondays. Gallery admission is free. An opening reception for Handmade Abstract will be held on Wednesday, September 9 from 7-9pm.
Artists include Katie Bell, Maria Chavez, Michelle Forsyth, Carl E. Hazlewood, LoVid, Marisa Manso, Lael Marshall, Christian Maychack, Leeza Meksin, Liz Nielsen, Courtney Puckett, Mary Schwab, and Lizzie Scott. The exhibition is curated by Elizabeth Ferrer, Vice President of Contemporary Art at BRIC; and Jenny Gerow, Assistant Curator at BRIC.
Abstraction was seen by earlier generations of artists as a way to achieve different intents – from evoking the spiritual and universal; to paring down visual elements to a core essence; to creating artwork that was no longer a “window” to another world, but a thing in and of itself. The artists in Handmade Abstract bring forth a new goal with their work – to affirm abstraction as an inescapable presence in the world around us, reflecting or interpreting a world close at hand. Abstraction is all around us, whether at home, in the tools we use, the technology we interact with, the clothing we wear, or the sounds around us. Many of the artists in the exhibition work with found, often cast-off or recycled materials – ranging from dishtowels to discarded building materials, to yarn, spandex, and fabric – eschewing traditional artistic media and adding unconventional processes that provide rich layers of evocations.
Sculptor Mary Schwab gives a dimensional shape to the void, casting the empty space inside old cardboard shipping boxes with Hydrocal, and then painting the surface of the resulting sculpture with bright colors. Lael Marshall stretches dishtowels, handkerchiefs, and other fabrics over handmade, irregularly shaped stretchers of her own making, referencing domesticity as well as a kind of eccentric minimalism that reveals the essential qualities of her materials. Maria Chavez has created the sound installation Rain of Applause, site-specific to BRIC House. As visitors stands within her Project Room installation, they will hear a sound track of applause recorded by the artist at public events held at BRIC House over the summer, which, stretched out, layered, and looped, sounds like rain. Photographer Michelle Forsyth creates arrangements using painted pedestals, clothing (often including plaid-patterns), and paper backdrops, then photographs them in a way that confuses what is a real or material object and what is imitation, displaying a strong level of geometric abstraction. The collaborative LoVid creates “video taxidermy” by editing and reworking analog video recordings into single channel pieces, printing the resulting images onto textiles and then sewing and stuffing the textiles, as if re-editing the videos into 3-D soft sculptures.
The artists represented in Handmade Abstract expand the discourse on abstract visual language by creating revelatory forms out of materials and practices that are grounded in palpable, lived reality. It is the artist’s hand, as well as their modes of fabrication, that result in a kind of alchemy – they simultaneously reveal and transform their materials, producing a transcendent experience of the commonplace.