Plug-n-Play (Lapis Philosophorum I and II), Stoneware, glaze, engobe, rubber, wood, silver-leaf, 2019 by Andrew Cornell Robinson
Queer + Peculiar Craft
Exhibition on View
Abrazo Interno Gallery
The Clemente, 107 Suffolk Street, second floor, New York, NY 10002.
On view Wednesday – Sunday 12 – 7pm, through 18 Jan 2020
Join us for an Artist's Panel Discussion
Los Kabayitos Theater
The Clemente 107 Suffolk Street, second floor, New York, NY 10002
Thursday 6 – 8pm, 16 January 2020. Event on Facebook
The exhibition, Queer and Peculiar Craft presents an inter-sectional group of artists each of whom have a unique visual language composed of cast-off histories and unexpected applications of craft materials. Artists: Koren Christofides, Greg Climer, Roxanne Jackson, Brian Kenny, Edmund Green Langdell, Phoenix Lindsey-Hall, Vick Quezada, Timo Rissanen, Andrew Cornell Robinson, Juana Valdes, and Lu Zhang.
The makers in this exhibition employ craft strategies in order to give voice to their search for personal and cultural identity in contrast to imposed standards of normalcy. Yet when these new voices, and visual languages push the boundaries of an accepted norm, they are seen as other, as strange, queer and peculiar. These artists each have an uncanny ability to find their voice by expanding the boundaries of cultural traditions. Their approach to craft materials expand techniques with long histories, such as transfer-ware, slump molding, relief modeling, slip-casting, pottery, quilting, cross stitching, enamels, and printmaking, among other media.
The implication of queer peculiarity applied to the construction of otherness offers a simultaneous burden and an opportunity for each of these artists who come to their work with unique lived experiences and perspectives. These makers explore how making and meaning provide unique points of view on queer aesthetics, feminism, and explorations of identity in relationship to place, culture and history. The works included in this queer and peculiar exhibition ask how we might imagine, make, live and see differently.
Installation showing: Table Remains, Ceramic, with wood tables, 2018 by Vick Quezada; Hanging By, Bone china porcelain, A series of 6 one of a kind, 9 x 12 inches each, 2017, by Juana Valdes; and Jamón Jamón V (Chueca), Glazed ceramic, silkscreen prints on paper, metal, magnets, 30 x 10 x 12 inches, 2019, by Andrew Cornell Robinson.
Installation showing: Table Remains, Ceramic, with wood tables, 2018 by Vick Quezada; and Twelve Blows, Silpcast porcelain, installation, 2014-19 by Phoenix Lindsey-Hall
Twelve Blows Ceramic 42 x 84 x 7 inches 2014, by Phoenix Lindsey-Hall.
Jamón Jamón V (Chueca), Glazed ceramic, silkscreen prints on paper, metal, magnets, 30 x 10 x 12 inches, 2019, by Andrew Cornell Robinson.
Doll House, Paperclay, underglaze, glaze, 17.5 x 13.5 x 13 inches, 2016-2018, by Koren Christofides.
Jamón Jamón IV (Newark) Glazed ceramic, rubber, charcoal, graphite, acrylic, silkscreen prints on paper, metal, magnets 24 x 10 x 12 inches 2019, by Andrew Cornell Robinson
Man in Bed, Quilted cotton, 70 x 55 inches, 2019, by Greg Climer
Couple Kissing (blue and yellow) Quilted 100% cotton 90 x 60 inches 2019, by Greg Climer
The exhibition, Queer and Peculiar Craft presents an inter-sectional group of artists each of whom have an uncanny visual language composed of cast-off histories and unexpected applications of craft materials. Koren Christofides, Greg Climer, Roxanne Jackson, Brian Kenny, Edmund Green Langdell, Phoenix Lindsey-Hall, Vick Quezada, Andrew Cornell Robinson, Timo Rissanen, Juana Valdes, and Lu Zhang.
Many of the liberating impulses since 1968 have led to significant changes in the way our society defines itself. There is now a much greater consciousness of the world’s multiculturalism and an understanding that not every person aspires to a utopian modernist model of progress that the West once believed to be an unquestioned absolute. A contemporary outgrowth of this shift is evidenced in the revival of craft materials and the ways that the crafts have opened up from material centered disciplines to idea infused functional, aesthetic, and conceptual creative strategies. The makers in this exhibition employ strategies in order to give voice to their search for personal and cultural identity in contrast to imposed standards of normalcy, which often deprive people of affirmative images so that they may not see themselves as actors in their own biography and society. Yet when these new voices, and visual languages push the boundaries of an accepted norm, they are seen as other, as strange, queer and peculiar.
According to the historian David J. Getsy, to nominate something as “queer” is to cast aspersion on it as being unnatural, incorrect, wrong, or abnormal. Anything called “queer” is looked at with suspicion and intensified scrutiny... As the most visible and mobile manifestation of the policing of the boundaries of the “normal,” the “natural,” and “common” sense, the label “queer” was historically used to tyrannize those who loved, desired, or lived differently. When lesbian, gay, and bisexual activists and thinkers rejected the presumption that they should assimilate and aspire to be merely tolerated, they embraced “queer” as a rallying cry. They upheld as a virtue their failure to fit into the normal. While the label “queer” is often associated with people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and/or gender non conforming, the concept in the context of the makers featured in this exhibition is inter-sectional in that they explore a multitude of identities, ideas and craft traditions by creating works that may appear peculiar looking, feeling or functioning in their explorations of craft materials as well as topics that range from feminism, gender identity, queer visibility, ethnicity, immigration, sexuality, history, and politics.
The implication of queer peculiarity applied to the construction of otherness offers a simultaneous burden and an opportunity for each of these artists who come to their work with unique lived experiences and perspectives. The immigrant experience offers one way of seeing society through the lens of belonging or not. Juana Valdes explores her lived experiences and observations about migration as a complex process, constructing history through a continuum that involves the personal journey of the Afro-Cuban diasporic community into a new homeland. Her work examines craft materials and methods and in several of her works, she traces the post-colonial history of the Americas and the intercontinental trade in people and porcelain. Lu Zhang is an artist, born in Xian, China, who lives and works in New York. Her ceramic constructions of computers and tablets explore her sense of living between cultures. The roughly modeled ceramic rendering of video chats with her family in China reflect the experience of being in two cultures at once, but not quite fitting into either.
Artists Koren Christofides, and Roxanne Jackson explore ideas of female power with a sense of humor and fantastic forms modeled and manipulated out of clay and other media. Their creative explorations often touch upon human nature as seen through the lens of magic, mythology, and proverbs about women. Jackson’s subversive, shape-shifting sculptures are evolving forms which open to reveal precious gems once hidden. Her pieces are also informed by feminine retro-beasts, such as harpies, Fiji-mermaids, and Sasquatch; these archaic figures are combined with imagery found in present-day subcultures. For instance, sculptures from her series She Beasts, are heavily influenced by antiquated mermaid folklore and circus sideshow culture from the mid-1800s, in which Fiji mermaids were a prominent fixture; a version of these monstrous figures re-appropriates this folk art tradition and recreates this profound myth. And, her Monster Paws series references contemporary manicure culture, a postmodern gesture that echoes what T. S. Eliot called the manipulation of a “continuous parallel between contemporaneity and antiquity.”4
Greg Climer’s series of quilts inverts the traditional methods for quilt construction by creating the fabric fragments rather than upcycling scraps. He has been working with digital tools to compose larger abstractions of intimate, poignant and sometimes transgressive portraits of queer people. Fashion designer Edmund Green Langdell is creating a platform that seeks to uplift the health and wellbeing of transgender people through the creation of hand made crochet or needle felted packers designed to affirm the silhouette in apparel for transgedner people. Brian Kenny’s multidisciplinary works explore autobiographical themes of his queer identity, shifting societal perceptions about gender, sexuality and politics. His banners are composed of a patchwork of sports jerseys and vinyl advertisements pieced together to celebrate exuberant expressions of the masculine queer gaze. Timo Rissanen explores craft through cross-stitched poetry, and memory resulting in works that reflect upon his lived experiences of discrimination as a gay man as well as celebrations of desire and reflections upon the objectified body.
Vick Quezada’s projects explore the material histories and consciousness of Indigenous- Latinx hybridity within Western culture. They use a variety of media, and performances embodying ancient Nahuan rites to simultaneously make the obscured visible. Their work in this exhibition uses smoke-fired terracotta to create a series of prison cafeteria trays, reflecting upon the humble platform for countless shared meals of millions of imprisoned people. Their artifacts, delineate inherent systems of power and subjectivity in the Americas, while transgressing “official” historical accounts.
Most queer people face the daily challenge of being their authentic self in societies that often are indifferent or openly hostile to them. In response to notions of visibility Andrew Cornell Robinson’s ceramic and mixed media sculptures explore historical customs as a metaphor for queer-baiting and conformity. His Jamon Jamon series is inspired by the medieval Spanish tradition of offering ham to house guests. This customary form of hospitality may seem commonplace today, but its historical roots come from a desire to sniff out heresy during the inquisition when the pious were looking for expressions of distaste in response to the offer of sliced pork. His use of butchered cuts of ham serve as a metaphor about being “suspected”, and “queer-baited” as a gay man. The sculptures are modeled, cast, and camouflaged with inlaid surface glazes, printed images and hidden messages. Phoenix Lindsey-Hall’s work centers around violence, loss and memory. Phoenix uses porcelain and stoneware to create sculptures that are based on extensive historical research about violence, hate crimes, and queer histories. Her unique explorations of events and artifacts focus on members of queer communities. Some examples include her porcelain casts of weapons used in hate-crimes, and others include artifacts that serve as evidence of queer lives lived. “I have discovered that the everyday objects that are left behind create an instant memorial.”
The works included in this queer and peculiar exhibition ask how we might imagine, make, live and see differently.
Healer Giant, Mixed media, ceramic, glaze, luster, faux fur, chains, minerals, candle 15 x 9 x 12 inches 2017, by Roxanne Jackson
Curated by Fred Frelinghuysen Presents and Andrew Cornell Robinson. Support for Queer and Peculiar Craft is provided by the Arts + Crafts Research Studio, and The Clemente.
1. Post Human Exhibition Catalogue Essay, by Jeffrey Deitch, 1992-93.
2. Brujos, Queer Craft, and Radical Creativity: A Conversation with Ricardo Gamboa, By Nayeli Portillo
Out.com November 23 2016.
3. Ten Queer Theses on Abstraction by David J. Getsy
4. Roxanne Jackson, www.roxannejackson.com/artist-statement ref December 2019.