Recent works by Hannah Barrett, Caleb Cole, Jane Maxwell, Randy Regier, Kent Rogowski, and TRIIIBE
Curated by Ian Alden Russell
Life is a play with many roles. Whether from teddy bears, toys, or fashion icons, parents, siblings, or complete strangers, we seek out models for how to be human. This exhibition features recent work by New England artists skilled in playful mimicry, inversion, and assemblage. Representing photography, collage, sculpture, and painting, the works shown here share a sense of "serious play" with the modes, methods, materials, and processes of forming, inheriting, and expressing personal and social identities. They offer a reminder to children of all ages that identity is not fixed or inherited but made and maintained, and despite the differences and, at times, discord of our many senses of self, we share something in common in the way we enjoy the creative possibilities of becoming human.
About the artists:
Hannah Barrett is a New York-based artist who until recently was based in Boston. Since 2000 she has painted invented portraits based on collage. Copies of photos or in some cases, copies of paintings are cut apart and reassembled into figures of ambiguous gender. Fusing the features of both sexes creates a range of androgynous characters that may be straight, queer, hermaphroditic or just cross-dressing. Her aim is to create portraiture that deviates from the conventional male or female, and to explore the resulting pictorial and conceptual possibilities. The series exhibited here, Tales from the House of Gibson, is a group of invented portraits inspired by Charles Hammond Gibson Junior and his museum. The paintings originally hung in a fantastic three story, exotically wallpapered staircase in the Gibson House Museum at 137 Beacon Street in Boston from April to December of 2010. Other recent solo exhibitions include Stephan Stoyanov Gallery, New York (2012), Howard Yezerski Gallery, Boston (2011), and Childs Gallery, Boston (2011) as well as major group exhibitions at National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C. (2010) and Massachusetts College of Art's Bakalar Gallery, Boston (2009). Hannah Barrett's Tales form the House of Gibson are included in the exhibition courtesy of Childs Gallery, Boston and Howard Yezerski, Boston.
Caleb Cole is a Boston-based artist and photographer. Born in Indianapolis (1981), he is a former altar server, scout, and 4-H Grand Champion in Gift Wrapping. His mother instilled in him a love of garage sales and thrift stores, where he developed a fascination with the junk that people leave behind. Cole has exhibited at a variety of venues, including Gallery Kayafas (Boston), the Danforth Museum of Art, Photo Center Northwest (Seattle), Good Citizen Gallery (St. Louis), Childs Gallery (Boston), and Jenkins Johnson Gallery (NYC). Cole was also featured in Boston Magazine (HOME) as an emerging photographer who is "shaking up New England's visual arts scene." His work exhibited here, Other People's Clothes, is a product of his exploration of private moments of expectation, a visual expression of his experiences stepping into the shoes of the types of people he sees on a daily basis. In Cole's words, "Each photograph in the series is a constructed scene that begins with an outfit or piece of clothing (either bought, found, or borrowed), then a person that I imagine to fill those clothes, and finally a location where that person can play out a silent moment alone. This moment is the time right before something changes, the holding in of a breath and waiting, the preparing of oneself for what is to come. Though I am the physical subject of these images, they are not traditional self-portraits. They are portraits of people I have never met but with whom I feel familiar, as well as documents of the process wherein I try on the transitional moments of others' lives in order to better understand my own." Caleb is represented locally by Gallery Kayafas in Boston.
Jane Maxwell is a mixed media artist based in Boston, MA. Maxwell's artistic voice grew out of a passion for vintage materials, modern fashion and design—mingled with a deep fascination for pop culture and female icons. In the late 1990's she studied mixed media at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and at the Decordova Museum School in Lincoln, Massachusetts. She graduated with a BA in Literature from Middlebury College in 1986 then worked in the public relations industry for 10 years. Her current work, exhibited here, largely focuses on women, body image and the feminine ideal. Her collages are deeply layered works, combining color, texture and text that surround and become the female figure. Jane's work is shown in major galleries throughout the country and a has been collected by art patrons around the world. Recently, she was selected to be included in the 30th anniversary edition of Who's Who in American Art. She has been a guest lecturer at Wellesley College, Stonehill College and The New England Art Institute, on the topic of body image and art. Her work has been the focus of numerous newspaper and magazine articles and has been featured in many art books, including Collage for the Soul (Rockport Books) and Mixed Media Collage (Quarry Books).
Randy Regier is a mixed media and installation artist now based in Wichita, Kansas but who was until recently based in Portland, Maine. He was born in Omaha, Nebraska in 1964. For many years, he worked in Oregon in the auto-body industry, restoring and repairing antique toys, and was a free-lance cartoonist. Moving with his wife and children to Abilene, Kansas in 1997, he was able to attend university, and it was at Kansas State where he was first encouraged to take his artistic intentions seriously. In 2005 he moved to Portland, Maine to undertake graduate studies at Maine College of Art and launch his artist career. Earlier this year, he relocated to Wichita with his family. Regier's artistic statement begins with the words of the German literary critic Walter Benjamin who wrote wrote in his 1928 essay, "The Cultural History of Toys," that, "Children do not constitute a community cut off from everything else...their toys cannot bear witness to any autonomous separate existence, but rather are a silent signifying dialogue between them [children] and their nation." This is not only true for toys (of which much of my work is concerned), but for all manner of objects – artifacts – from our collective past that are formed and fabricated by human hands and intentions. This is the realm in which I work and play, and seek to understand my culture and history.
Kent Rogowski is an artist/photographer living and working in Brooklyn, NY. In 2000, Rogowski received his MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design, where he is now a Critic. He has also taught at the Pratt Institute and the School of Visual Arts in New York. His first monograph, Bears, was published by powerHouse books in 2007. He has had solo shows in New York at both the Foley Gallery and the Jen Bekman Gallery. His first European solo show opened at the In Focus Gallery in Cologne, Germany in 2009. His work exhibited here, Bears, is a series of portraits of the most unusual sort: ordinary teddy bears that have been turned inside out and restuffed. Each animal’s appearance is determined by the necessities of the manufacturing process. Simple patterns and devices never meant to be seen are now prominent physical characteristics, giving each one a distinctly quirky personality: their fasteners become eyes, their seams become scars, and their stuffing creeps out in the most unexpected places. Together these images form a typology of strange yet oddly familiar creatures. They are at once hideous yet cuddly, disturbing yet endearing, absurd yet adorable, while offering a metaphor for us all to consider. These bears, which have lived and loved and lost as much as their owners, have suffered and endured through it all. It is by virtue of revealing their inner core might we better understand our own.