Artur Silva, Gala Bent, Laura Mackin, Lisa Berry, Lisa Kowalski, John Berry
Half/Dozen Gallery is pleased to present a group exhibition featuring six artists. This exhibition brings together work that is at once akin and in stark contrast.
This group of six artists complement each other in peculiar ways, from the dreamlike drawings of Gala Bent to the heavily conceptual digital collages of Laura Mackin to the opposing forces in John Berry’s paintings; there are themes of observation, searching and discovery. The photos of Lisa Berry take a quiet, subtle look at the world just outside our view while Artur Silva’s provocative video speaks boldly and pointedly about capitalism and culture. Lisa Kowalski’s tempting paintings invite us to forget where we are and soak up the vibrant colors and bold marks.
Artur Silva was born in Brazil where he attended the Guignard School of Fine Arts. Silva now lives and works in Indianapolis, IN. His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally. In addition to showing early on in his career in his home country of Brazil, Silva’s work was included in the 2009 Heartland exhibition in the Van Abbe Museum, Eindhoven, Netherlands and Smart Museum in Chicago, IL. His work has also been shown at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis, IN; John Michael Kohler Art Center, Sheboygan, WI; Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, Omaha, NE; Fort Wayne Museum of Art, Fort Wayne IN; Indiana State Museum, Indianapolis, IN; NavtaSchulz Gallery, Chicago, IL; Big Car Gallery, Indianapolis, IN; Sikkema & Jenkins Gallery, New York, NY; Jail Gallery, Los Angeles, CA; Half/Dozen Gallery, Portland, OR.
I’m interested in the way people experience capitalism within different classes and groups in America, now and at other periods in history. My work is the result of my pursuit to understand, as an artist, these experiences as well as my own capitalist experience in America. I grew up in Brazil, but have lived my entire adult life in the United States. My curiosity about this subject, viewed through my cultural background, is the primary drive of this exploration.
I appropriate and modify images and sounds from mass media, and combine them with my own footage and photography to create videos and installations. These works explore advertising as a capitalistic tool to fuel consumerism. I’m interested in the way products are packaged, advertised and sold. The role that iconography plays in the oversimplified representation of cultures through images is also an area of interest. Through my work I explore my own struggle in a commodity-driven culture and how I negotiate my existence in this system.
The Bling Project
The Bling Project, a collaboration with Michael R. Sanchez, is an unlikely juxtaposition of two very different capitalist experiences: The civil rights movement leaders and the two rappers Plies and T.I. In this video we have edited and animated footage of some of the iconic figures of the civil rights movement such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcom X, and the Black Panthers to a contemporary song of rap artists Plies featuring T.I., underscoring two very different capitalist choices.
This concept came from watching a Black Panthers’ speech, in which was highlighted equality for the entire third world, expressing a great commitment to communal thinking.
Laura Mackin was born in Wisconsin and raised in Maryland. Mackin received a BFA from Maryland Institute College of Art in 2003, and an MFA in painting from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2005. Mackin’s curatorial experience includes directing Giftshop Project Space in Chicago, IL, and co-directing the H. Lewis Gallery in Baltimore, MD. Her work has been exhibited nationally, including recent shows at Contemporary Arts Workshop in Chicago, IL; Old Gold Exhibitions and Events in Chicago, IL; Harper College in Palatine, IL; Lipscomb University in Nashville, TN.
Many of my books and composite photographs are drawn from my collection of found images and videos gathered from Internet auction sites and forums, thrift stores, and relatives.
For example, since 2003, I have downloaded thousands of pictures of mirrors photographed by US eBay sellers. A mirror is a tricky object to document; it forms an image of anything placed in front of it. These photographs offer a way to look at how people approach the problem of the faithfully reflecting mirror, and how they frame things within the mirror.
Another collection of nightstand pictures offers a study of accidental still lifes. Accumulations of objects, books, phones, photos, lotion, water, dust show evidence of various human needs and obsessions.
My personal photographs, drawings and diagrams underscore my focus on intimate, domestic content. Working with either found or personal imagery, I consider the activity a form of gathering evidence. By paying attention and tinkering, I try to bring overlooked, everyday aspects of living into visibility.
Lisa Berry was born in Indiana in 1982. She received a BFA in photography from the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, RI in 2004. She moved to Bloomington, Indiana in 2008 where she continues to make pictures. She is currently the curator of photography at Pictura Gallery.
In a portrait, we are able to examine a person, to know them, and they become the main subject of our gaze. However, when we are kept at a slight distance, shown only a back, or a small figure, we take the person in as part of a whole. We cannot dwell on their particularities or details. Rather, they act as silent ushers, inviting us to dwell briefly in their mysterious world.
Figures tell us how to think about the space; they are dreamlike narrators with unsearchable identities. We’re not able to examine them closely, but we are able to stand beside them and take in the landscape from their point of view.
Guiding us through unfamiliar territory, figures give us permission to experience emotions. They tell us it’s okay to feel lonely here, or you can go ahead and resurrect that memory, because I’m there too. Once we begin looking at subjects this way, even animals or objects can become our guides. We may only come this close to them, but they will take us further in.
Lisa Kowalski currently lives and works in Denver, CO. She received her BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL in 1988. She has exhibited work nationally and internationally including the Contemporary Art Workshop, Chicago, IL; Aqua Art Fair, Miami, Fl; Bridge Art Fair, London, UK; Square 101 Gallery, Denver, CO; NavtaSchulz Gallery, Chicago, IL; Half/Dozen Gallery, Portland, OR; Lafontsee Galleries, Grand Rapids, MI.
Everything in life inspires me, not quite with direct interpretation, but as I see and experience faces, words, gestures, colors and shapes – all of it – I am always looking and reacting to the energy around me. It can become a self centered reflection of whatever is around that interests me rather than great issues that have to be answered objectively. All of this gets channeled and flows from brain to arm, hitting white board with that first wonderful stroke of vibrant color, and continues with adding and subtracting, stripping down to the most essential. I am in love with the eloquence of sparseness and everything to do with the act of painting: the smell, the lushness of oil paint, color.
There is unmitigated spontaneity driven by emotive forces, reacting intuitively, chance and choice. The works are not meant to be narrative, but visual explorations. These explorations evoke sensation in the viewer that are not bounded by the literal, but can be broadly identified as physical, spiritual or psychological. The titles are personal associations. I try to work with a straightforward painter’s vocabulary without pretension. I’m not interested in postmodern irony or intellectualizing about painting.
My methods of line and stroke are deliberate, intuitively unidentified. I don’t labor over works. If they start to trouble me, they need to be set aside, while I move on to the next piece. This keeps several pieces in process and the momentum keeps ideas clear. Logic and intuition are always shifting and struggling between what will be viewed and holding onto my pure intention.
John Berry received an MFA from Indiana University, Bloomington, IN and a BFA from Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), Providence, RI. His work has been exhibited across the country including SoFA Gallery, Bloomington, IN; Big Car Gallery, Indianapolis, IN; Half/Dozen Gallery, Portland, OR; Carr Haus Gallery, Providence, RI; Woods-Gerry Gallery, Providence, RI; Empty Set Project Space, Pittsfield, MA; Last Minute Gallery, Northampton, MA; Oxbow Gallery, Northampton, MA.
I paint spaces of opposition. They often appear as vacant puzzles or forgotten video game levels. The painting’s superficial struggle is simply how to navigate the forms. Dead ends and red herrings, such as scraped paint, flat shapes, or drawn marks provide an elastic return to the surface of the painting. The work is a battleground for pictorial unity. It is a world of reduced information, an incomplete space in continual movement. They come from a childhood of make believe, forts, Nintendo and folklore.
There is an inescapable tension between the viewer and the paint. Paint is a chameleon antagonist, a stand in for many possible forces of opposition: Man versus Man, nature, self, or God.