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Curatorial Statement What and how we make work matters. Kiss sounds the call for increased transparency and ethics in relation not only to questions of identity and history of the objects and images that we produce, but also the subsequent baggage of their consumption. Not since 1968 has there been a time in global history so fertile in uprising and protest. Authenticity has long been shrouded under the usual posture of glamour and spin, selling a worldview where everything extends beyond its means. The American mythology of the quick-fix monoculture is failing us–in fact, we cannot have it all. We live in a world that is alive with dynamic complexity; easy answers (which often manifest with the burden of risk falling squarely on the shoulders of the many, with the rewards reaped by the few) are not the solution to the problems we face as producers and consumers. Always, but now more than ever, context is everything. Whether we examine ourselves through the ways that we eat; the ways that we seek medicine; the ways that we negotiate the politics of public welfare, or the ways that we work, almost every aspect of our society and culture is represented without accurate respect to its origins or history. Footnotes are fading under the glare of irony. Kiss is works of art that reveal an authentic methodology to their production process, which demand to be viewed and reviewed through the lens of the individual amidst the bloated and fractured socio-political landscape of our times. The initial thoughts for Kiss developed in 2008 as the result of interacting with a book, and two exhibitions. Specifically these ideas came to fruition in the wake of reading The Craftsman, Richard Sennett’s thoughtful sociology of love and work, upon seeing The New Museum’s groundbreaking exhibition in their new Bowery building, Unmonumental, and experiencing the Whitney Biennial for the first time. At that one moment in time everything that I had come to identify as having value in a work of art–namely a severe and sincere fidelity to workmanship was entirely upended by, what I perceived to be works of terrifying carelessness.

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I was initially offended and only later exhilarated and liberated by the conclusion that mash-ups and wild appropriation of source material, when used intelligently and responsibly, would produce an accurate representation of the globalized, post-colonial transaction that is the defining characteristic of our times. Admittedly, it took me awhile to get past the hype of my generation, which has most (un)notably been a surfeit of affected, ironic nostalgia– an ethos that I just couldn’t get down with. The shock and awe anti-mastery of the junk art pathetic aesthetic, and the misguided liberalism of the post-new age triangle crew are both ever- popular strategies, located on a very slippery slope. Their pervading logic goes something like “Let’s reference some inane moment from childhood and then talk about it with total disregard to the privileged position of critical discourse”. What makes work careless is not the referent, but the (un)willingness of the maker to acknowledge its source as anything more than an ironic joke. The shortsightedness of representing anything with a complete disregard to the history of what it is that we’re taking from, is exactly how current and less recent movements like relational art (see Bourriaud’s Altermodern) and the new sincerity (see Rugoff’s Just Pathetic) function as a much needed tonic. Their promotion of an ethic of production and consumption of work attempts to address head-on, and in full hilarity, the fracture of identities and the hybridity of our condition. Admittedly though, with both movements I am left feeling tired of the pot-luck dinner cum exhibition of late. It’s merely a matter of time before the hostel turns hostile. Yet, this is where Kiss resides, full of complicated honesty. I would like to extend my gratitude and thanks to the following contributors for their unflagging support of this exhibition: Dick Dougherty, Chair, The Department of Art and Design, Murray State University, for his generosity and financial support of this project; Tina McCalment, Interim Director of University Galleries, Murray State University, for managing this project and collaborating on administrative duties; Kevin Duffy, Visiting Assistant Professor of Expanded Media at Alfred University, for providing countless hours of time towards the impeccable design of this exhibition catalogue.

— Mary VanWassenhove, November 2011

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Ian RuΩino

This statement should go on forever. It would then accurately demonstrate what I do. As a consequence of my approach I spend vast amounts of time pouring over everything, not wanting to overlook any opportunities for considerations. But inevitably I will. I begin by making paper; this paper I entrust to print, draw, and paint on as my first meditation. It is often made from my recycled clothing, which is blue. I only wear blue. It’s been eight years. Blue represents water in its clean and crisp, fluid and dynamic state. With blue I hope to seep uniformly into both photographic and experiential memory processes. Thinking and working incrementally, I make frameworks such as grids, patterns, and sets of parameters to follow, which always take many months to finish. Within this lengthy period an anxiety builds. It cannot be resolved until I do something drastic to my seemingly finalized work. I treat my many months of labor with irreverence: a spray-painted black dot, a pierced “X”, an eyes-closed splash of paint. Hasty irresponsible decisions, it is as if, I’ve done my time, now I deserve to be impulsive. After such actions I work to rectify the situation by creating yet another framework that validates the disruption. I carry on this way endlessly.

Ian Ruffino Misspelled Word, 2010 Embossed paper, watercolor, colored pencil and thread on Arches Text sewn to a stack of hand-made paper 23×23×K˝ 4


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Ian Ruffino Blushing, 2005 Watercolor, offset screenprint and thread on embossed paper 30×30×O˝


The frameworks conceptually deal with: winter, communication, death, modernism, water, and love to name a few. I realize these categories are vague, but there is something about my visceral connection with them that I am trying hard to define. For example, the idea for and you want her, 2010 originated with the dissatisfaction that my work is constantly compared to Agnes Martin’s. It began with a highly magnified scan of a reproduction of River, 1964 by Martin, the scanned image mostly displayed the CMYK halftone dots, which I further manipulated so that only the outermost ring of each dot remained. The pattern was printed via inkjet onto hand made paper, on top of this I screen-printed transparent ink in a halftone dot matrix taken from an earlier piece of my own. Barely visible, this second layer was made in anticipation of the intaglio process that was to follow. I soaked the paper in water causing the inkjet layer to run everywhere except where it had been sealed by the transparent screen-printing ink. From there, a blue intaglio grid was printed on top balancing the random runniness of the inkjet. This step was a particular bit of joy for me because it allowed for an act of irresponsibility closely followed by an act of redemption. After drying, the print was then hole punched approximately five thousand times. The punched out holes were saved and re-glued back into place with no particular order. Upon this stratum I painted the bottom third of the print with tiny waves in horizontal lines corresponding to each other. The piece was then stitched to a pile of blue felt measuring one 1/2”, and an “X” was punched from corner to corner of the square format and through the entire paper felt stack. Diagonal bands of acrylic were then printed across the entire object. Still discontented, this time with the color green, which was created by the mixing of washed out inkjet pigment, I covered the top two thirds of the piece with white paint. On top of the white paint with blue ballpoint pen I reinstated the intaglio grid following the lines still visible on the bottom third, and placed a blue watercolor dot in each of the grid squares. On the bottom third I injected tiny white spots of gouache with a syringe. The piece froze at this point because it was due to arrive at a show the following week.

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Agnes Martin once wrote, It is so hard to slow down to the point where it is possible to explore one’s mind. The approach I am entangled in shares the same conundrum, but there is no solution found within or conveyed through the work. In fact it is an attempt to slow down, yet it is punctuated with instinctual cravings that thrust it into compromised contexts, and the cycle continues. This is why nothing is ever finished; the sequence of time and thought, however fervently noted, never cease there are always more considerations. My composites labor toward completeness, but disturbingly conclude by confirming the complexity inherent to this search.

Ian Ruffino Microscript, Winter Exit, 2010 Screenprint and ballpoint pen on paper hole-punched with holes reglued into different spaces 23×23˝


Ian Ruffino A Rip is a Misfortune, a Stain is a Vice–detail opposite, 2010 Ballpoint pen on fabric 53×32˝


Michelle Grabner

My research in the studio has consistently explored the performative concepts of mark making and its ability to make time elastic. I am exploring repetition and its relationship to the concept of boredom, especially in its relationship to work, labor, and maturity. Found and rudimentary abstract compositions combined with the ever-change medium of metal point materials (sulfurization) compress various illustrations of time.

Michelle Grabner Untitled, 2010 Graphite and gesso on paper 20×26˝

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Michelle Grabner Untitled, 2010 Graphite and gesso on paper 20×26˝


Michelle Grabner Untitle, 2010 Silver and gesso on paper 24Ë? diameter


Jeffrey Scott Mathews

Bismuth has a rich cultural history as both a metaphysical healing property and as an element with many commercial applications(it is the active ingredient in Pepto-Bismol). The reason that I choose to work with the material is that it forms stair-step or hopper crystals as it cools. It has a low melting point so it is possible to drip and draw with the material on linen or canvas. As the molten metal cools, crystals form and the material forms a bond with the linen. I appreciate the component of organic structure occurring after chaotic and almost expressionistic gestural painting. The marker-bleed refers to my use of markers on linen that are compromised by water or chemical agent, allowing the pigment to bleed and saturate into the linen. I see this as another level of the process or systemic organization being disrupted by natural phenomena. Due to the fact that I work with chance there is always a high possibility of failure. This makes things both exciting and precarious as I am constantly building things up in order to break them down. I think this collaboration with nature is vaguely reminiscent of my background in experimental processes with photography. The work is both a recording and an experiment. Ultimately, each work is the residue of an ongoing investigation with infinite possibilities. I’m heavily inspired by the sort of formal enthusiasm typified by late 60’s minimalism where artists were working with space-age industrial materials in order to subvert their function within the military industrial complex. I’m also inspired by the science fiction writing of JG Ballard and his elemental cycle, which encapsulates positivist ideas about geophysical change and its relevance to psychological transformation.

Jeffrey Scott Mathews Marker Bleed 001, 2010 Marker on Arches Paper 30×22˝

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Jeffrey Scott Mathews Marker Bleed, 2010 Marker on Arches Paper 30Ă—22Ë?

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Jeffrey Scott Mathews Marker Bleed, 2010 Marker on Arches Paper 30Ă—22Ë?

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Skye Gilkerson

The aspects of things that are most important for us are hidden because of their simplicity and familiarity. —Ludwig Wittgenstein Through my works on paper, I examine places and objects from everyday life that are often unassuming and easily overlooked. From this baseline of common experience, I use subtle interventions to ordinary, often ubiquitous materials to unfold our awareness of our surroundings and destabilize familiar structures. Space, time, light, and language, as well as pages from magazines and newspapers all become the materials for this exploration. These pieces, from a distance, look like quiet abstractions. As the viewer moves closer to the work, they reveal themselves to be the remnants of magazine pages. The text is removed by hand leaving only the punctuation behind. Separated from their original context, the marks become author-less, yet pages overlap, suggesting the meeting point between two perspectives or two voices in a conversation. The sentences attached to each of these punctuation marks are implied but never revealed, and the basic elements of written communication are transformed into an exploration of structure, referencing architecture and landscape. Because of their subtlety, these pieces ask to be viewed with heightened perception, fusing our intellectual understanding of the work with a sensory experience. Everyday materials are lifted from their context, defamiliarizing the familiar.

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Skye Gilkerson 693 Spaces, 2009 Magazine pages 15Ă—14Ë?

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Skye Gilkerson Conversation Abstraction, 2009 Magazine pages 39×20˝

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Mike Ellyson

My work addresses the mass production of popular and religious cultural iconography that I have endlessly encountered throughout my life. Since birth, I have been consuming products and the images that represent them. Icons of popular culture have defined my vision of the world, from the Gerber baby and Winnie the Pooh, to religious images of Jesus and the Virgin Mary, The King James Bible, jigsaw puzzles, Ninja Turtles, baseball cards, Puma shoes, Marlboro cigarettes, and more recently, Mitchell and Ness, Clothing, and, bootleg Chinese movies from my friends in Chinatown Philadelphia. I have a love-hate relationship with popular culture. I can’t escape it, though, I’m not sure that I would want to, even if I could. It has contributed to some of the most memorable and happiest experiences in my life. My artwork is an expression of my history and future as a voracious consumer of popular culture. The specific themes I explore within the realm of popular and mass culture, such as Christianity, the devil, and football, are a result of my personal experiences as a white, American male growing up in the United States. My experiences are far from universal, but rather specific to my culture, demographic, and generation; they are specific to people like me.

Mike Ellyson Bible, 2007 Whiteout/pen on Bible 7×6˝

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Terry Conrad

Using multiple forms and processes my work often explores landscape, architecture waste and food. Working between abstraction and these themes the work looks to the process of things and highlights activity and change. These letterpress pieces Landscape, Architecture, Waste and Food are colorful descriptive landscapes. They describe scenes that are ugly and beautiful at the same time. The common thread is that they are landscapes, in description as well as how the text sits on the page. I consider writing part of my drawing or planning process leading me to make other work in print and sculpture. The project was printed at the Penland Letterpress Residency in January of 2011. Cohoes Drawing is another kind of planning for new work that is based on routine of adding to the paper daily.

Terry Conrad Buffalo Color, 2011 Letterpress 11×14˝

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(over) Terry Conrad Cohoes, 2011 Collage 25×18˝


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Ruth Laskey

Weaving is the process through which I explore my concerns related to painting. My current practice is an investigation of the diagonal structure of the twill pattern in weaving. I work within the parameters of the diagonal pattern to create a woven form that references post-painterly abstraction and that reinterprets these forms. I dye linen thread with color, and then weave on a loom with a combination of undyed and colored threads. The weavings are the structural equivalent of a blank canvas, but with a “painted” image embedded into the object. Each body of work within the larger Twill Series is a serialized presentation of a certain aspect of the concerns I am investigating in my practice. In my current work I dye the thread with a gradient, and use the effect of the diminishing colored shape to complicate the relationship between image and ground.

(top) Ruth Laskey Study for Twill Series (seafoam), 2007 watercolor on graph paper 8K×11˝ (bottom) Ruth Laskey Study for Twill Series (plum blossom), 2007 watercolor on graph paper 8K×11˝

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Ruth Laskey Twill Series (Cabernet), 2009 Hand-woven linen 21K×18 O˝

Images courtesy of Ratio 3, San Francisco


Danielle Aubert

Excel is a piece of software often overlooked by people working in the visual arts, but favored by people working in business environments for its ability to tabulate information and compute data. It follows the logic of the table cell – files are made up of worksheets of rows and columns that stretch indefinitely along horizontal and vertical axes. In this series, I began each drawing by copying the previous day’s drawing into a new worksheet and somehow altering it. Because so many of the formal decisions in Excel take place in the print dialogue box or in panel windows, it yields an Excel-specific visual vocabulary. There is a fixed color palette, a set number of options for ‘fills’ and boarders, and a grid on every new page. While I’m not an expert user, the more I work with it the more I realize the extent to which the things like the structure of the interface , the location of options and preferences, and the organization of the menus affect the design choices I make. In The Language of New Media Lev Manovich makes a connection between software programs and their effects on the imagination, referring to software as “yet another filter” (118). In some ways, I think of this project as an execution of my mood as it is filtered through Excel. The program takes various forms – a set of web pages, a book of printed drawings, prints, and a video animation.

Danielle Aubert 16 Months Worth of Drawings In Microsoft Excel, 2006 Book 8½×11˝

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April 23, 2005


Danielle Aubert 16 Months Worth of Drawings In Microsoft Excel, 2006 Book


Danielle Aubert 16 Months Worth of Drawings In Microsoft Excel, 2006 Book


Andrew Doak

Set the stage... Yes, this is a drama. My work thrives on the act of dramatization. I could be arranging a still life, myself before the camera, or perhaps I always did both. My work combines the descriptive power of the photographic document with its double role as a vehicle for truth (veracity) and an instrument that calls truth into question. I have a sense of humor. I appreciate the fragility implied by this. I often pair extremes (like faces of the self, the everyday and the uncanny, fantasy and reality). It is all an attempt at conversing with the way we symbolize and mythologize—sometimes even the way we directly interact with the world. I employ multiple images, copies of copies, construction and reconstruction. The scene may be mundane—the inscenation is anything but. There is tension in the world of appearances. This world is appearances.

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Project Statement (Confessions) Here are chocolate wrappers. They are documents, abstractions, fabrications, and confessions. They are a chance to fantasize. Oscar Wilde said: “I can resist anything but temptation.” Agreed. As a diabetic, my relationship with consumption is more complex. If you feel compelled, as we all do to indulge, become part of this work. Dream. Share. Guilt. Relief. (doakdoak.tumblr.com/submit)

(p. 42) Andrew Doak Chocolate Confessions 060a: I Want Candy, 2011 Digital C-Print 24×30˝ (p. 44) Andrew Doak Chocolate Confessions 026: I Want Candy, 2011 Digital C-Print 24×30˝

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Jamil Hellu

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Considering our collective growing self-consciousness about photographic cameras and the fast pace present in today’s point-and-shoot digital technologies, I am interested in the history of photography, particularly as it relates to portraiture. Inspired by early portrait photography when long exposures obliged subjects to remain still for extended periods of time, I started this series of photographs thinking about the active role of the sitter during the photographic process and ways to intimately explore her/his interactions with the camera. Using a large-format view camera and natural lighting, I deliberately choose to prolong the exposure time of each shot, taking only one or two pictures per sitting. I ask my subjects to think about something specific about their lives, hoping to attain not only a physical expression or an intimate gaze but also a sense of connection in the photograph with something deeply personal. My intention resides in exploring the complex interweaving of emotional presence, the psychology of the pose in relation to the photographic camera, and the involved dynamics that take place between the sitter, the photographer, and eventually the viewer of my work.

Jamil Hellu Lallo, 2011 Digital Pigment Prints 23Ă—29Ë?


Jamil Hellu Nanda, 2011 Digital Pigment Prints 23×29˝

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Jamil Hellu Gino, 2011 Digital Pigment Prints 23×29˝

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Jamil Hellu Jerome, 2011 Digital Pigment Prints 23×29˝

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Kade L. Twist

Our Land Your Imagination is a series of multi-channel video installations that examine the impact of the Judeo-Christian Western Scientific Worldview on the landscapes of America and the Western Hemisphere. The series of work is comprised of reappropriated and re-contextualized Youtube videos submitted by users who live within the particular community or region featured in the installation. My goal is to create site-specific video installations that reveal the complexity of interactions between the Judeo-Christian Western Scientific World View and Indigenous land. I want to create environments where audiences are engaged by multiple narratives of moving images, voices, music and sounds that tell a story about a story of which we are all participants. The focus of this series is not on a particular race or ethnicity of colonizer descendancy, but on the inherited ideology of the colonizer — supported by perceptions, beliefs, institutions, political systems, economic systems and individual actions — that continues to dominate the postcolonial experience and act upon Indigenous land as a virus. The installations reflect the results of social media storytellers proclaiming, recording and documenting the byproducts of their ideology and their right to freely enjoy the promises of altered landscapes. To develop the installations for Phoenix I have reviewed over 27,000 videos on Youtube about Phoenix and the surrounding suburban communities. When taken individually, the videos are random and lack context; they are brief moments of lives and events ranging from funny to heartbreaking, from entertaining to banal. Yet, when viewed collectively they comprise a rich, complex and powerful postcolonial metanarrative that provides an extremely articulate vision of the Judeo-Christian Western Scientific World View and its impact on Indigenous land. With this in mind, each installation displays aggregations from the ever-expanding database of Youtube videos, creating environments that envelop audiences, enabling them to view the videos collectively as unique totalizing schemes.

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The Judeo-Christian Western Scientific World View and Phoenix is a two channel video installation comprised of 10 Youtube videos. Each channel contains five looped videos projected onto cornering walls. One of the channels features anonymous women singing karaoke versions of Carpenters songs about love and loss, hope and failure, and dreams unrealized. They are the muses and voices of the Judeo-Christian Western Scientific World View. The singers are juxtaposed against videos of suburban Phoenix: a construction site near a dairy farm in south Chandler; an empty house for sale in Buckeye resulting from foreclosure; a hot air balloon crashing down on an Anthem subdivision; a dust storm viewed from within the cinder block walls of a tract house property in Maricopa; and a set of palm trees in a Mesa backyard blowing in the wind — entirely non-Indigenous and ubiquitous. Audiences are confronted with internal and external landscapes altered by the Judeo-Christian Western Scientific World View. The installation provides an unfiltered vision of damaged, monotonous, lonely, and tragically beautiful visions of suburban Phoenix through the surprisingly intimate and revealing lens of the Phoenix suburban community itself. nativelabs.com

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Kade L. Twist Cherokee Our Land Your Imagination: The Judeo-Christian Western Scientific Worldview and Phoenix, 2008 Two-channel video installation, with sound. Running time: 12:32


Kade L. Twist Cherokee Our Land Your Imagination: The Judeo-Christian Western Scientific Worldview and Phoenix, 2008 Two-channel video installation, with sound. Running time: 12:32


Published on the occasion of the exhibition Kiss, November 11–December 9, 2011 Clara M. Eagle Gallery, Murray State University. © 2011, Clara M. Eagle Gallery & Kiss Artists Photographs courtesy of the artists, except where noted. All rights reserved. Catalog, text, and images may not be reproduced without permission. curator Mary Vanwassenhove graphic design Kevin Duffy – kpduffy.com


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Kiss: New Sincerity & New Romanticism  

Catalog for a forthcoming exhibition at Clara M. Eagle Gallery, Murray State University. Show curated by Mary VanWassenhove, catalog design...

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