March 9 - April 20
Reception: Saturday, March 9, 4-6
Room 83 Spring is pleased to present Tell It Slant with David Curcio, Monique Johannet, Adrienne Sloane, and Antoinette Winters. Text is the catalyst in common, distilled through very individual approaches in printmaking, drawing, fiber, sculpture, and painting. Curcio, Johannet, Sloane, and Winters mine a history of text-based inspiration from illuminated manuscripts and folk samplers to pop culture posters, protest signs and advertising and share a kinship with contemporary artists including Ed Ruscha, Barbara Kruger, Mel Bochner, and Corita Kent.
Meaning is malleable in each artists work, dwelling transiently in the isolated word, the abbreviated snippet, or the honed manifesto. Whether structured conventionally or fluid as poetry, the elements of narrative are wrought visual. Text becomes a versatile and nuanced medium, transparent as a diary entry, ambiguous out of context, and stealthily loaded with innuendo. The slow reveal producing a personal and potent mind nudge.
Printmaker David Curcio draws and hand stitches over washes of color on paper in a folky yet lyrical way. Bats, architecture, and people are vehicles for text. His words are melancholic and the intimate tone and scale of the pieces pull the viewer in to commiserate. Haunted brutality and resignation give way to humor, which is unintentional but mitigates the violence. Contextually and even compositionally, the only real constant is the use of words, which are often obfuscated by other marks and so lost for good, even to the artist. The thought was there - it was important - but it’s gone. Larger, legible text is more urgent, but even its intent remains malleable and ever-changing for the artist and, hopefully, the viewer.
When Monique Johannet hears Emily Dickinson’s imperative to “Tell all the truth but tell it slant,” she thinks of the encounter between an artist and her materials, where the urge to “tell” is refracted by the inherent qualities of the medium, and how that interaction shapes the telling in unexpected ways. Her sculptural pieces and paintings sport bright or tender colors, but have strayed into an uncomfortable area, where to spell something out means to cast a spell, and allure is all bait and switch, where false hopes are dangled and links become chains, and the hook is set firm in the lip.
A contemporary fiber artist with a political focus, Adrienne Sloane deeply explores all forms of sculptural knit structures. As a hand and machine knitter, her work often addresses timely but universal issues while remaining mindful of the rich historical context of her medium. “Much of my work has been as a visceral response to the constant assault of unsettling news that pours out of the radio in my studio. I knit to rejoin the frayed and unraveled places around me.”
Antoinette Winters presents a third iteration of Either and Or, an enlarged painted fragment of an appropriated crochet pattern juxtaposed with panels on which delicately traced crochet patterns are rendered in colored acrylic ink and paint. The decorative images are enlarged or reduced, in whole or part, to incorporate text. The phrases - contemporary messages of warning, commentary, and personal observations - are culled from notebooks, emails, news articles, and public statements by politicians and political commentators, authors and poets; some are from public and/or private conversations. Coupled with the traditional crochet patterns, the whole both honors and subverts a historically gendered craft medium, and celebrates the liberty of the artist to transform materials and practices in new ways.