Material Issue

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MATERIAL ISSUE Material Issue features artists who have developed a personal and highly critical dialogue with their chosen materials. The ideas and issues that are expressed in the works on view are nurtured through a diversity of material explorations related to pen and ink drawing, ceramics, woodworking, painting, photography, film, video, and found objects. Demonstrating the ways that artists think through material, the exhibition provides insight into how certain creative endeavors push traditional process beyond the limits of conventional practice and allow materials to inform and resonate personal, historical, social, and political issues. The exhibition explores the materiality of traditional materials, but film, video and performance are crucial to a more expansive narrative that gives greater agency to our material surroundings. The 13 contributing artists engage in material investigations that facilitate a better understanding of our shared environment, thinking through historical relics, new and old technologies, cultural artifacts, domestic goods, and common art supplies. Material Issue signifies an area of artistic production and innovation where traditional practices are combined with

critical examinations of material culture to illuminate important issues that reflect our current time and place. This exhibition presents contemporary artists who counter Michael Fried’s assertion, from his 1967 essay Art and Objecthood, that, “Like the shape of the object, the materials do not represent, signify, or allude to anything: they are what they are and nothing more.” Material Issue demonstrates that materials are indeed relevant to the content and meaning on an artwork and that regardless of position or process an artist, in the words of Robert Rauschenberg, will “begin with the possibilities of the material.” Artists Emma Amos, David Adamo, Lisa Alvarado, Cory Arcangel, Radcliffe Bailey, Sarah Briland, Susan Collis, Tacita Dean, Ben Durham, Adrian Esparza, Mike Goodlett, Jessica Jackson Hutchins, and Toyin Ojih Odutola. Curators Joey Yates, KMAC Associate Curator Aldy Milliken, KMAC Executive Director and Chief Curator



David Adamo engages in reductive

Adamo draws on the historical

and aggressive tactics with wood

precedent of an artist like Peter

in order to tackle issues at the

Voulkos who investigated the

junction of fragility and masculinity.

properties of clay through a similar

Four is part of an ongoing series of

set of forceful gestures and actions.

physical engagements with wooden

Voulkos had likewise responded

objects that the artist has whittled

to the methods of spontaneity

down to a limp and lacerated form,

proposed by Jackson Pollack’s

then abandoned to remain in a

explorations in the fluidity of paint.

perpetual state of disarray. Adamo

These artists share a process that

often addresses the carving process

focuses on the performance and

from the perspective of a masculine

physicality of art making. Adamo

activity; using tools like an axe or

expands on the projects of his

knife and leaving piles of shavings

predecessors by both lionizing and

on the floor that signal a hostile and

parodying the expressive practice of

destructive performance. Baseball

the master artist-craftsman.

represents another form of manly behavior, which Adamo emasculates by reducing a set of bats to fragile, almost toothpick-like structures.


Four 2008, four shorn baseball bats and their shavings Dimensions vary by installation Courtesy of Peter Freeman, New York David Adamo b. 1979 Rochester, NY Lives & works in Berlin, Germany 5


Alvarado’s Traditional Object

reimagining the use and beauty of

paintings make use of design

these cultural objects she celebrates

elements that are reminiscent

their potency as tools for engaging

of textile patterns from cultures

in a spiritual or extrasensory

indigenous to the Americas. With

activity, pointing to the potential

references to tribal rugs, blankets,

for more totalizing forms of cultural

sashes, and shawls, Alvarado

expression, an experience akin to

separates these artifacts from their

opera or cinema.

usual decorative and utilitarian positions by giving their motifs a new

Alvarado’s paintings help to shift

art context in the form of scroll-like

material, normally perceived

paintings. Alvarado accentuates the

as common artifacts, into

ceremonial aspects of traditional

powerful works of art that reveal

objects by using the paintings

a complicated and dynamic

as banners in her own ritualistic

representation of contemporary

performances with her experimental

cultural heritage.

music group, the Natural Information Society led by Joshua Abrams. In


Traditional Object 19 105" x 93" Courtesy of the artist Lisa Alvarado b. 1982 San Antonio, TX Lives and works in Chicago, IL 7


In the late 1970’s and early 80’s Emma

Out in Front utilizes Amos’ training

Amos began a series of figurative

as a weaver, adding another layer to

woven collages that employed her

her painting process and helping to

use of color as both a material for

establish the idea of connectivity

communicating beauty and radiance

using the physical properties of

and as a tool for the politicization of

thread. The connective threads in this

color. As a female multiracial artist,

work unite her own cut-up woven

working in the male dominated art

fabrics mending together multiple

world of the 1970’s, Amos developed

colors that signify the varied aspects

an intensely personal connection

of her personal and artistic identity.

to the varied meanings that color

Amos’ borders are made from printed

can bring to the artistic process. In a

African cloth (Burkina Faso, Kente,

1991 Art Papers interview with Lucy

and Kanga) or fabric that she has

Lippard Amos said, “Every time I think

woven herself. The borders function

about color it’s a political statement.

as framing devices for the personal,

It would be a luxury to be white and

feminist, and Pan-African subject

never to think about it.”

matter that inhabits her work.


Out in Front 1982, Handwoven fabric on linen 76" x 64" Courtesy of the artist and Ryan Lee gallery, New York, NY Emma Amos b. 1938 Atlanta, GA Works in NoHo, NYC 9


Cory Arcangel’s status as a central

images lose relevance over time and

figure in the contemporary art

when viewed at a later date we can

discourse has been shaped by his

hardly recollect the initial lure to

unique ability to operate within

press save. Arcangel takes his own

the glitches of an environment

file of such images and applies a Java

entirely mediated through digital

applet from the 1990’s featuring an

communications. When the

impression of gently rippling water.

“immateriality” of new media was first

Otherwise known as the “lake”

beginning to complicate our capitalist

effect, this popular Web graphic

structures for commodification,

became obsolete when new and

Arcangel began to create art that

more advanced graphics emerged.

appeared to be an index of outdated

Arcangel’s interest in defunct

media programs and devices.

technology forms the basis of his art practice with his primary material

Goop / Lakes derives from his Lakes

often being outmoded digital code

series, which began in 2013. The

from video games, computers, and

series starts with the idea of the

vintage electronic music equipment.

digital archive and the likelihood that

He positions himself “a hacker in the

many of us have amassed a personal

traditional definition of someone

collection of random downloaded

who glues together ugly code and

material consisting of found images

not a programmer.”

from the Internet. Typically these


Goop / Lakes 2015, single-channel video, 1920 x 1080 H.264/MPEG-4 part 10 looped digital file (from lossless Quicktime Animation master), media player, 70-inch flat-screen, armature, various cables 79" x 36.5" x 11" Courtesy of Jody and PA Howard Cory Arcangel b. 1978 Buffalo, NY Lives and works in Brooklyn, NYC & Stavanger, Norway 11


Radcliffe Bailey is a mixed media

Arriving at Mobile Bay, Alabama

artist who employs found artifacts

in 1859, carrying a cargo of 110-160

and other culturally significant

enslaved Africans, Clotilde was in

material in order to introduce

direct violation of an 1808 law titled

narratives about our collective past.

“An Act to Prohibit the Importation

His works are often large in scale and

of Slaves into any Port or Place

consist of multiple layers of visual

Within the Jurisdiction of the United

information around the issues of

States.” Those involved in organizing

memory, family, place and the racial

and carrying out the illicit shipment

histories of the Americas.

evaded the authorities by waiting until nightfall to approach the harbor,

The last recorded slave ship to

where the captives were quickly

enter a U.S. port was a two-masted

transshipped to a steamboat and

schooner called Clotilde. The wood,

hidden for twelve days. The Clotilde

coral and black sand comprising

was set afire before sinking into the

Bailey’s Clotilde II represents the

Atlantic, while the African slaves

elements associated with a passage

were distributed among the investors

through the transatlantic slave route.

of the criminal scheme. With the US

These materials help to address the

government unable to prove its case

issue of displacement by referencing

and the Civil War erupting a year

the cultural and continental crossing

later, the ship’s captain and the other

experienced by the individuals

conspirators in the illegal operation

captured during the slave trade. The

went unpunished.

work serves as an embodiment of the final slave ship to dock in the US.


Clotilde II 2014, black sand, wood, and coral 80 1/16" x 80 3/16" x 4" (framed) Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York, NY Radcliffe Bailey b. 1968 Bridgeton, NJ Lives and works in Atlanta, GA 13


Sarah Briland’s recent series combines

working alongside Kentucky’s coal

human made with nature made

mining industry. Having grown up

materials. Problematica (Foam Rock)

in this area of the country she has

was created from a cast polyurethane

an invested interest in the manifold

foam mattress with additive surface

ecological concerns that plague the

layers of sand, glass, and resin. Her

landscapes of eastern Kentucky’s

forms have the appearance of a

mountain regions. These experiences

geological vestige from an unknown

help to inform the color, shape and

time and place, a fossil embedded

texture of the work. The chalky white

with traces of our present values

and grays resemble a rocky excavation

and concerns. Her hybridized

site and the yellow a contaminated

objects provide commentary on the


problematic relationship between the artificial and organic in the 21st

For a recent solo show at Urban Glass

century. This adverse muddling of the

in Brooklyn, NY Briland explained

manmade and the natural are inspired

her interest in exploring the material

by recent ecological conditions like

properties of the Problematica series

the Pacific trash vortices in the North

saying, “The mutability of glass and

Pacific Ocean, which consist of large

paper, combined with the process of

concentrations of plastic particles

casting, which translates form from

trapped in the currents of oceanic

one material into another, are potent


metaphors for transfiguration and change.”

Briland’s interests regarding the human impact on our planet’s environment partly stem from


Problematica (Foam Rock) 2015, Polyurethane foam, aqua-resin, quartz sand, reflective glass microspheres, steel and concrete 50" x 20 1/2" x 18" Courtesy of the artist Sarah Briland b. 1980 Huntington, WV Lives and works in Richmond, VA 15


Susan Collis examines and reworks

draws our attention to the ordinary

the conventional economic,

and urges us to reconsider what

decorative and stately associations

materials mean when given a new

with materials like gold, opals,


diamonds and pearls in order to shift our perceptions of art and value.

Collis swaps our expectations of

With Please Stay, The oyster’s our

value, altering the way we typically

world and Save the last dance for

interact with everyday objects and

me Collis presents the ephemeral

precious materials. The unintentional

elements of a gallery in the process

appearance of her work is in

of installation. The ladder and

fact a trompe l’oeil effect that

broom are employed to depict an

is accomplished through a series

area of the exhibition that looks

of intricate processes that use

unfinished or forgotten. Upon closer

woodworking and inlay techniques.

inspection the viewer will see that

This unseen level of expert craft

the appearance of splattered paint

combined with her use of highly

on the ladder, dust in the broom, and

treasured material is central to the

the exposed nails and screws in the

prize that lies ahead for the patient

wall are actually precious stones and

observer of her work.

metals, inset with tiny gems and/or inlayed with valuable materials. Collis


The oyster’s our world 2004, Wooden stepladder, mother of pearl, shell, coral, fresh water pearl, cultured pearls, white opal, diamond 32" x 15" x 23" Private collection, New York Susan Collis b. 1956 London, United Kingdom Lives and works in London, United Kingdom 17


Tacita Dean’s wider art practice

sculptures, while the actual films

involves drawing, painting and

take on a painterly quality, inducing a

photography, but since the mid 1990’s

more intimate art experience.

her primary medium has been film, more specifically the labor, process

KODAK continues a theme in her

and quality of film itself. She employs

work that exposes the beauty in

film as a material to be reformed

things as they decay or disappear. In

and reworked in order to address

response to a questionnaire sent out

issues at the intersections of culture,

by the journal October in 2002 Dean

technology and obsolescence.

provides commentary on why she is perhaps drawn to expressions of ruin

KODAK documents the production

within modern culture,

of the last roll of 16mm film at the Kodak factory in Chalon-sur-

“For me, obsolescence is a state of

Saône, France. Dean’s finished

normality. Everything that excites me

work functions as a record of

no longer functions in its own time.

the exhaustion of a film medium

The one thing I have noticed is that

captured by using the very same

so often I am attracted to things

soon to be obsolete material. Her

conceived in the decade of my birth.

films are most often presented

I court anachronism - things that

in museums and galleries rather

were once futuristic but are now out

than in conventional cinemas,

of date - and I wonder if the objects

providing more precise control

and buildings I seek were ever, in

over scale, sound and light. The

fact, content in their own time, as

ability to customize allows her

if obsolescence was invited at their

film installations to function like



Kodak 2006, 44 minutes, 16mm color and b&w film, optical sound Courtesy of the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery, New York, London, and Paris Tacita Dean b. 1965 Canterbury, England Lives and works in Berlin, Germany 19


Ben Durham, recognized for his

fields study the Earth’s physical

unique approach to portraiture,

properties, as well as the human

presents a new series of works that

relationship to the planet itself.

combine chain link fencing with

Durham’s previous work combining

handmade paper. The impressions

word and image in his series of

created from this ubiquitous material

well-known text portraits revealed

function as a new form of portraiture

a meticulous layering of transcripts

conceptualizing the areas within

from both personal memory and

our industrially demarcated space.

public record. With his new series

Through his process of binding

Durham incorporates the same

the paper with the steel chain link

handmade paper, but replaces text

fence Durham creates a record that

with varying outlines created from

anchors his found material to a

fragmented fences. These fences tell

specific time and place. The traces

a similar story to the people in his

that remain from the former history

portraits, as both reveal a complex

of the fence can be read in similar

record of the past that is shaped by

fashion to a rock that carries a record

geographic location and layers of

of the Earth.

wear and tear.

There are both geographic and geologic approaches at work in Durham’s process. Scientists in these


Untitled 2015, handmade paper and steel chain-link fence 60" x 45" x 1" Courtesy of the artist Ben Durham b. 1982 Lexington, KY Lives and works in Richmond, VA 21


Esparza unravels a traditional

along the riverfront with views of

Mexican sarape and rethreads it into

new and old bridges. A found vintage

a unique design that experiments

postcard depicting a lone figure

with perspective and geometric

taking in the majesty of Cherokee

abstraction. The assorted patterns

Park in the summer of 1910 also

and color combinations that are

inspired this site-specific installation.

found in the typical sarape arouse

The serape represents Esparza’s

unlimited painterly associations for

cultural heritage and his home in

Esparza. When draped on the wall

El Paso, Texas, which is located

next to his installation the blanket

directly on the U.S. border across

acts as a kind of unstretched canvas,

from Juárez, Mexico. The thread

opening up connections between

that Esparza uses to link the serape

the thread from a serape, the lines in

with his new wall design represents

a drawing, and the colors and shading

his new connection to Louisville.

techniques of a painting.

By resituating this common cultural object into a new art environment

The New Leaves celebrates the new

the work communicates the issue of

KMAC building as well as Esparza’s

migration and the experience of a

first impressions of Louisville during

new place.

his walks downtown, including strolls


The New Leaves 2016, serape, thread, nails, vintage postcard 10' x 24' Adrian Esparza b. 1970 El Paso, TX Lives and works in El Paso, TX 23


Mike Goodlett uses ballpoint pen,

molds of stitched spandex, are material

thread, paper, plaster, and spandex to

explorations that express an individual

create sensual biomorphic forms. His

set of complex fascinations with the

works serve as cartography for the

body. The sewn layers of his drawings

body, mapping and charting how line,

serve as covering for mysterious

texture and shape can communicate

appendages and the sculptures render

our deepest corporeal desires. The

these strange extremities in three

Dandy Fountain is a surreal undulating

dimensions. These two bodies of

form that evokes the work of Jean

work represent an aesthetic landscape

Arp or recent Ken Price. With a

populated by a range of sensual forms,

distinct surface quality and a pale

which are further eroticized through

color palette of flesh tones he molds

Goodlett’s material preferences. His

an array of chimeric sculptures that

artistic process can be taken as an

ripple and germinate with an inbuilt

engagement in a personal fantasy related

force of their own.

to the body that borders on fetish.

Goodlett’s layered drawings of pen and thread, along with his sculptures of hydrostone plaster made from


The Dandy Fountain 2016, hydro stone plaster cast 32" x 16" x 10" Courtesy of the artist Mike Goodlett b. 1958 Lexington, KY Lives and works in Wilmore, KY 25


The raw and disheveled collages,

Hutchins undermines the elegance

assemblages, large-scale ceramics

and delicacy of conventional

and sculptural objects from

ceramics, revealing an untidy quality

Jessica Jackson Hutchins are

within her work that signifies

intended to reflect the disorder

an embrace of the rough edges

and imperfections of daily life.

and chaos of life. The reality of

Her abstract ceramic forms act

maintaining a house, with a husband,

as stand-ins for the human body,

kids and pets informs her physical

while the weathered couches, worn

approach to making art, allowing the

chairs and tables that accompany

uncontrollable and unpredictable

her installations serve to connect

to influence the work. Despite the

her work with ideas related to the

use of furniture to communicate

home and familial space. Wishlist

the ideas of house and home,

is a sizable sculpture that conjures

Hutchins sidesteps the usual

an imposing individual or an entire

domestic associations of traditional

family. The mixture of her ceramic

ceramics and instead accentuates the

glazes and papier-mâchÊ alludes to

inevitable decay that comes with a

the color, texture and physicality of

more lived experience.

skin, drooping and fading with age and exhaustion. The found objects that appear in her work - coffee cups, furniture, clothing - allude to her own life or directly come from her own home.


Wishlist 2015, Sofa covered in plastic, upholstery, plaster, wood, paper mâchÊ, ceramic Sofa element: 28" x 92" x 36" Wall element: 61" x 85" x 9" Courtesy of the artist and Maritime Boesky Gallery, New York Jessica Jackson Hutchins b. 1971 Chicago, IL Lives and works in Portland, OR 27


The Material Issue exhibition

with Blackness as a construct, which

features several of Odutola’s

as she says “is a negation, it instantly

drawings, including 8 of 32 portraits

obfuscates and devalues who and

based on found images of well-

whatever is washed over by it. It

known artists, actors, politicians, and

denies complexity and in turn denies

other pop culture icons. Known as

explanation. In essence, it flattens.”

the Treatment series, these drawings focus on the sociopolitical issues

The Treatment series was created

of skin color, which is central to her

in response to this construct, a

distinctive process of mark making

way to “treat” it differently when

and use of materials like ink, chalk,

attached to the idea of Whiteness.

graphite and charcoal.

Her subjects for this project are represented with detailed marks for

The impetus to create the

the face and unfinished outlines for

Treatment series was Odutola’s

the clothing and hair. The uniformity

experience as she transitioned from

of the portrayals obscures their

her home in Nigeria to her life in the

familiarity with the general public

United States, an experience that

despite their celebrity status.

has informed a set of views about

Odutola further obfuscates their

being Black in America. Fundamental

identity by leaving them unnamed,

to Odutola’s art practice is a

relying on a reference number for the

critique of the use of colors to

title they are referred to only in the

indicate race. Her process provides

order they have been treated.

techniques to work through issues


The Treatment 14 2015, Pen ink, gel ink, and pencil on paper 12" x 9" (paper) Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York, NY Toyin Ojih Odutola b. 1985Â Ile-Ife, Nigeria Lives and works in New York, NY 29

EXHIBITION CHECKLIST DAVID ADAMO Four 2008, Four shorn baseball bats and their shavings Dimensions vary by installation EMMA AMOS Out in Front 1982, Handwoven fabric on linen 76" x 64" LISA ALVARADO Traditional Object 19 105" x 93" CORY ARCANGEL Goop/Lakes 2015, single-channel video, 1920 x 1080 H.264/MPEG-4 part 10 looped digital file (from lossless Quicktime Animation master), media player, 70-inch flat-screen, armature, various cables 79" x 36.5" x 11" Live, Love, Dream 2014, foam pool noodle, tailored Aeropostale sweat pant leg, Electrolux vacuum cleaner.

RADCLIFFE BAILEY Clotilde II 2014, Black sand, wood, coral 80 1/16" x 80 3/16" x 4" (framed) Western 2015, String, glitter, wood, and acrylic on paper 52" x 75 3/8"

SARAH BRILAND Foam Rock 2016, Polyurethane foam, aqua-resin, quartz sand, reflective glass microspheres, steel, concrete Problematica (Bubble Wrap Fossil) 2015/2016, Pâte de verre Dimensions available

Problematica (Foam Rock) 2015, Polyurethane foam, aqua-resin, quartz sand, reflective glass microspheres, steel and concrete 50" x 20 1/2" x 18"

SUSAN COLLIS Please Stay 2016, Silver, white gold, platinum, black diamonds, smokey topaz, amethyst, emerald, brown goldstone, flower garden agate, red carnelian 130mm x 1m Save the last dance for me 2006, Wooden broom, diamond, fresh water pearl, cultured pearl, mother of pearl, white opal, turquoise, howlite 127 x 37 x 11 cm The oyster’s our world 2004, Wooden stepladder, mother of pearl, shell, coral, fresh water pearl, cultured pearls, white opal, diamond 32" x 15" x 23"

TACITA DEAN Kodak 2006, 44 minutes, 16mm color and b&w film, optical sound BEN DURHAM Untitled 2015, Handmade paper, steel chain-link fence 60" x 44" x 1" Untitled 2015, Dyed handmade paper, steel chain-link fence 38" x 29" x 1" Untitled 2015, Handmade paper, steel chain-link fence 60" x 44" x 1" Untitled 2016, Handmade paper, steel chain-link fence 60" x 44" x 1"

ADRIAN ESPARZA The New Leaves 2016, Serape, thread, nails, vintage postcard 10' x 24'

TOYIN OJIH ODUTOLA Are you sure that it’s him? (Yes, I am certain.) 2011, Pen and ink on paper 21 7/8" x 42 1/4" x 1 1/2" (framed)

MIKE GOODLETT Dress Socks 2013, Ballpoint pen, thread on paper 16" x 14"

Farther Still 2016, Charcoal on board 40" x 30" (board) 45 1/2" x 37 9/16" x 2 1/8"

Love Seat 2013, Ballpoint pen, thread on paper 16" x 14" Ruff, Cuff, Muff 2016, Hydro stone plaster cast 23" x 18" x 10" The Dandy Fountain 2016, Hydro stone plaster cast 32" x 16" x 10" The Marriage of Arnolfini 2013, Ballpoint pen, thread on paper 16" x 14" Untitled 2015, hydro stone plaster cast 38" x 14" x 6"

JESSICA JACKSON HUTCHINS Acid Blotter 2015, Chair, paper mâché, cups, enamel, paint, glazed ceramic 35" x 25" x 31" Untitled 2015, Paint, paper mâché, paper cups on shelf liner & linen 60” x 45” x 3” Wishlist 2015, Sofa covered in plastic upholstery, plaster, wood, paper mâché, & ceramic Sofa element: 28" x 92" x 36" Wall element: 61" x 85" x 9"

Let It Express Itself 2015, White charcoal pencil on black board 22 5/8" 17 13/16" x 1 1/2" (framed) Melting Into Texture or The Future Grown Impatient 2015, Charcoal on board 45 1/2" x 37 1/2" x 2 1/8" (framed) The Treatment 1 2015, Pen ink, gel ink, and pencil on paper 12" x 9" (paper) The Treatment 14 2015, Pen ink, gel ink, and pencil on paper 12" x 9" (paper) The Treatment 21 2015, Pen ink, gel ink, and pencil on paper 12" x 9" (paper) The Treatment 22 2015, Pen ink, gel ink, and pencil on paper 12" x 9" (paper) The Treatment 24 2015, Pen ink, gel ink, and pencil on paper 12” x 9” (paper) The Treatment 26 2015, Pen ink, gel ink, and pencil on paper 12” x 9” (paper) The Treatment 28 2015, Pen ink, gel ink, and pencil on paper 12" x 9" (paper) The Treatment 29 2015, Pen ink, gel ink, and pencil on paper 12" x 9" (paper) To remember and to forget 2014, Graphite on paper 21 5/8" x 42 5/8" x 1 1/2" (framed) 30


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