Periodically, we invite well-known artists and arts professionals to create a Short List of some of their favorite artists in the BRIC Contemporary Artist Registry. Here, Elizabeth Ferrer, BRIC's Director of Contemporary Art and curator of the "Housewarming: Notions of Home from the Center of the Universe" exhibition, on view at BRIC House through December 15, 2013, turns her Short List of artists into an addendum to the show.
Housewarming: An Addendum The inaugural exhibition in BRIC House's new gallery is Housewarming: Notions of Home from the Center of the Universe. I chose this theme in order celebrate the opening of our new space in downtown Brooklyn as well as to present an expansive look at the vitality of the visual arts in Brooklyn. Moreover, "home" is one of the most fundamental, universal experiences – it's different for all of us, but we all have powerful ideas about home and its role in shaping our lives. This Short List is meant to further the dialogue on notions of home as explored by contemporary artists in our borough. Each thinks about and visualizes home in differing ways.
For Amanda Mathis, home is a physical place, now empty, whether thanks to gentrification, displacement, and abandonment. She works in actual, uninhabited urban dwellings, selectively remove layers of the interiors to expose what exists beneath the surface. By doing so, she says, "the histories of the buildings' inhabitants are revealed to me, and I see the materiality and craftsmanship of past constructions juxtaposed with that of today.
Painter Deborah Brown focuses on Bushwick, now famous as a home for young Brooklyn artists, but also a neighborhood with centuries of history. In the early colonial period, Peter Stuyvesant named it Boswijck (little town in the woods). More recently, it was a mixed neighborhood, with tracts of old housing stock, factories, and abandoned breweries. Brown is interested in what she calls "the post-apocalyptic beauty" of contemporary Bushwick. "Parts of Bushwick resemble a lunar landscape of industrial rubble and urban decay. Abandoned houses stand alone in fields of debris. Macabre elements, such as clumps of shoes, dangle incongruously above the street. Morning glories intertwine with barbed wire on the perimeter of junk yards. This odd landscape possesses a simultaneous allure and menace that I take as the starting point for my paintings."
Karla Stingerstein transforms old, domestic objects, often chairs, giving them new life as sculptures, while always calling attention to their age, wear, and history of use by unknown people. Stingerstein's parents sold antiques and collectibles at flea markets, and this childhood experience has compelled her to think about how we care for everyday objects, how we think about them, how we occupy them, and how they occupy us. "I explore form, fabric and furnishings as they relate to disintegration and detritus of domestic life," she states.
Romy Scheroder also works with chairs, taking them apart, combining them, removing or distorting elements to "remove their functionality," as she says. Regardless of her transformations, the objects strongly retain their "chairness," and their sense of relation to the human form and our domestic selves.
Similarly, Leigh Davis works with photographs and video installations, seeking "to represent how people utilize, inhabit, and conceive of their living spaces." For one body of work, "Residence", she spent extended time at a residence hall for women located within the YWCA of Brooklyn. "For two years I worked within this community," she notes, "visiting the individual rooms of twenty-five women. I developed a process, with a focus on forming relationships that resulted in a series of photographs. These images of intimate spaces capture the dialectic between engagement and voyeurism that has been fundamental to my practice."
Mona Saeed Kamal presents ideas of home from the vantage point of a person who can lay claim to India, Pakistan, Canada, North Africa, and Brooklyn, as part of her migratory history. "Through my installations," she says, "I am literally trying to find my own place within my current locale while taking into consideration my personal as well as my family's history. I create unstable narratives through utilizing building materials such as concrete, bricks, plaster and wood. The spaces I create are fragments of homes as I am piecing together the bits of my cultural history that I know about. Many times these structures create a cultural confusion as many cultures are colliding into one piece. This confusion is communicated through incorporating found objects whose origins are also from many places. I have included grasses from Northern Ontario, sand from India and my own personal items such as bed spreads and sweaters. I also utilize old family photographs within my installations. Most recently, I began incorporating performative video of myself into my installations. My work is a personal narrative in which the process and materials used within each piece is symbolic to my multiple places of origin and my search for an identity. "
Bradly Dever Treadaway also examines the way that multiple locales (in his case, Brooklyn and the American South) converge to create a complex sense of home and of self. He works with photography, video, film, and installation to create mixed-media works that speak of the loss of family, tradition and history. Working with five generations of family archives from southern Louisiana, he aspires, as he notes, "to reunite present and past through visual metaphors." The deconstruction and recontextualization of images is meant to comment on the struggle to preserve intergenerational relationships and connections to heritage."
Elizabeth Ferrer BRIC Director of Contemporary Art Curator, Housewarming: Notions of Home from the Center of the Universe