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FREERIDING

Texas Woman’s University, Denton, Texas, January 10 – February 10, 2011

The traditionally passive role of the viewer has been repeatedly challenged by avant-garde artists who have increasingly demanded more and more of their viewers. Happenings and Fluxus performances often relied on the spontaneous participation of their audiences; Earth artists required visitors to trek long distances to experience their work; more recently, artists have begun incorporating cutting-edge technology to create art that literally responds to the viewer’s presence in the gallery. In an effort to go beyond mere interaction, FREERIDING features works that reflect on or incorporate an act of giving or taking. The nature of these exchanges involves a deeper commitment on the part of the artist and viewer in that each gains something, relinquishes something, or engages in a reciprocal trade.

FREERIDING includes works by the Art Guys, David Bergholz, Christine Bisetto, Richie Budd, Candy Chang, M. Kate Helmes, Kristin Lucas, Temporary Services, and Lawrence Weiner, and a project organized by curator Daniel Baumann. Each work involves various forms of the act of exchange— whether the artist designates his work part of the Public Freehold (Weiner); recreates and manipulates another artist's work (Bisetto); mines from images in the public domain and depends on online workers to contribute to the piece (Lucas); purges intimate objects and memories (Helmes); sells opportunities to engage in conversation with the artist (Budd); or the work centers on charitable, collaborative, and intellectual exchanges (the Art Guys, Bergholz, Chang and Temporary Services). The works included in the exhibition illustrate and underline the social aspects and human exchanges that art can offer, especially when markets or financial trades are not of chief concern.

The passing of an object from one person to another inevitably raises questions about economic systems, particularly notions of bartering or charity that defy the norms of capitalism. Often proliferating during recession eras, such past and present exchange-based projects aim to counter the market, refocusing attention on basic human interactions. Several artists here address this notion by dematerializing the art object in order to emphasize actions and experiences. By actively encouraging the participation of the viewers, artists also relinquish a certain level of control over their work. In 1967, French theorist Roland Barthes wrote the seminal essay “Death of the Author,” in which he argues that an author’s (or artist’s) intentions are less important than the readers’ (or viewers’) interpretations. In this exhibition, the artists acknowledge and celebrate their diminished authority by creating situations of active and open collaboration with the viewers.

This exhibition operates differently in a university setting than a traditional gallery, as universities provide analogous human and economic trades but with a decidedly critical eye and without such a clear profit motive. FREERIDING underscores such exchanges and aims to encourage the interpersonal interactions presented by the works included, especially in an era when isolation and detachment are often easier choices.

0 Alison Hearst and Leslie Murrell, www.subtextprojects.org

FIGURATION

Texas Woman’s University, Denton, Texas, January 10 – February 10, 2011

Figuration is a selection of works from the Southern Methodist University / Pollock Gallery Collection of Works on Paper. The pieces show five artists depictions of the figure through traditional drawing media on paper.

Sigmund Abeles’ pieces show two ideas about figure drawing. The more traditional nudes, that are treated as preparatory sketches in the rendering of shadow and form and the addition of specific, targeted areas (the back and feet) have a graceful and flowing line. When sketching the figures of the animals the lines become much more rough and quick, outlining and defining form in a very brief and intuitive manner. The nudes were done with more time to contemplate line, with the model stable and unmoving as the artist needed, where the animal sketches were by necessity quicker and more immediate to capture an elusive and moving subject.

Lois Dodd’s figures in gouache and ink show very intuitive, gestural lines and bold strokes to depict the subject with minimal information, yet retain the feel of an immediate, intimate moment. The use of color paper adds emotional weight to the very limited palette of colors used in the drawings.

Linda Finnell’s prints are soft ground intaglio prints of gloves and feathers. Using these as ‘replacements’ for the figure in each piece she creates very iconoclastic pieces that have a stately feel, a very ceremonial feel in their presentation. Showing two or three figures in each piece intimates a feeling of couple or family, referencing the trinity or other figureheads. Using the feathers presents another level of inherited meaning, leaving the final interpretation of the images to the viewer’s experience and intuition.

John Lincoln’s sketches were done as he was teaching figure drawing classes. The pieces show a very unique and personal viewpoint from the artists’ perspective of the actual process of building a drawing and a ‘behind the scenes’ look at the work. There are self-portraits of the artist doing work and portraits of other artists’ and students working on drawings. The repeated point of views make very compelling images that play with the notion of the viewer’s perspective and what is the focus of each drawing.

Nathan Oliveira has a long history of figurative works. This drawing is an ink wash study done quickly with a model, using sketching as a way of contemplation and a way to understand one’s own self. He embraces the ‘accidents’ of the media he uses and allows his work to show his immersion in the world of the visual, his pictorial composition of movement and manipulation of space. The work encourages the viewer to deal with the figure in the terms that Oliveira has set down in the drawing, the spontaneity, the space and the materials.

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