C U R R E N T
Curatorial Statement: By embracing fluidity and ambiguity in their practice, Jake Ford and S.N. Parks examine issues of gender and sexuality. The very appearance of the artists’ work can be difficult to decipher. Am I looking at a photograph or a painting? Human or animal? Phallus or vagina? It is in this indeterminate territory that Ford and Parks find rich conceptual possibility. Such unintelligibility challenges our desire for categorization and asks the viewer to see the world in less concrete terms. Within American culture, binaries such as male/female and gay/straight attempt to squeeze complex human experience into discrete identities. What ontological opportunities arise if we embrace that which is in between?
Parks utilizes chemigrams to explore the fluidity of gender. The chemigram process is inherently unintelligible, existing in a state between photography and painting. Created through a series of resists on light-sensitive paper, it allows for mark-making and induces an element of chaos. The fluidity and unintelligibility of the chemigram process parallels Parks’ experience with gender; as a gender fluid individual, they drift between masculinity, femininity, and an amorphous middle state. For Parks, liminality is not only a tool to challenge regimes of immutability, but also provides a structure to express personal experiences.
Parks is a mixed media artist who specializes in chemigrams, an alternative photographic process in which photo paper is covered in resisting material then exposed to light while it is shuffled between chemical baths. Parks utilizes this process alongside other methods of image-making to explore fluidity, gender, phenomenology, and play in art. They received their BFA in 2D Studio Art from the Hite Art Institute in 2016.
Through investigations of biological systems, Ford finds immense possibility in alternate modes of gender and sexuality. Jellyfish, for instance, may shift between sexual and asexual reproduction during their lifespan; other sea creatures such as clownfish can alter their sex. The artist references this oscillation through forms that blur boundaries between male and female, phallus and orifice, human and inhuman. Within his work, these models act as a metaphor for the complex ways that many individuals experience gender and sexuality. Even if an one thinks of their identity as stable, Ford argues that “there is an infinite space of ambiguity and collisions between these constructed roles”
Jake Ford is a an interdisciplinary artist and thinker. He is a graduate of the Hite Art Institute, University of Louisville with a BFA in 3D Studio Art. While studying there, he developed an interest in perceptual and behavioral psychology along with other social sciences. Ford uses play to explore human sexuality, intimacy, personal identity, and how these interact and are expressed in different social situations.
April 19th-June 15th 2019 // gallery hours: Saturday 10-1 or by appointment
opening reception: April 19th, 2019 6-10p
U P C O M I N G
Renzo Velez is a Peruvian artist based in Shepherdstown, WV. He was born and raised in Lima, Peru, until the age of 16. Lima is where Velez realized art was going to play an integral part in his life. He grew up inspired by the growing street art movement in Lima, rich Peruvian culture, and the beauty of a small South American country. In 2006, Velez and his family moved to the United States and settled in West Virginia. Ever since, the beauty of West Virginia, a very different landscape and culture, and the friendships formed during this stage of his life, have inspired his art. Velez currently attends Shepherd University in pursuit of a Graphic Design degree.
Renzo’s work looks deeply into relationships of embodiment and place-- the ways in which we’re formed by the landscapes of our home(s). Renzo’s work merges landscape/native flora and portraiture in an effort to portray how complex people’s relationships to their environments and experiences are, and the way in which these elements impact who you are as a person. Each of these pieces express these concepts by combining different environments and elements to create a surreal representation of a person.
The dramatic separation Renzo experienced from the landscapes/natural scenes of his home, give Renzo an attuned perspective into these connections. There is a sense of belonging that is built through this series.
Friendship and interpersonal connection is central to these pieces. Each piece is unique, just like Renzo’s relationship to the figure (friend) in each piece is unique. They represent how Renzo feels about people and how people make him feel-- Those feelings are complex, and better expressed visually.
Jessica Oberdick is a visual artist, curator, and writer. In December 2017 Oberdick graduated from the University of Louisville with her dual Master of Arts and Art History in Critical and Curatorial Studies and Master of Public Administration in Nonprofit Management. She also holds a BFA from Shepherd University, Shepherdstown, WV. Within her practice her work and research focus on identity, social politics and the interactions between art and social justice. Currently she works as the Exhibitions Assistant for The University of Louisville.
June 28th-August 24th, 2019 // gallery hours: Saturday 10-1 or by appointment
opening reception: June 28th, 2019 6-10p