CULTURE FRONT: New artists bring fresh visions

By on November 4, 2014
Jave Yoshimoto’s gouache on paper Harbinger of Lake Winter Day’s Dusk

Jave Yoshimoto’s gouache on paper Harbinger of Lake Winter Day’s Dusk

Jackson Hole, Wyoming – Last week, Teton Artlab announced its roster of visiting artists in residence for 2015. The revamped, formalized program is a watershed moment for Jackson as a place for contemporary visual art.

For more than two decades, Jackson has nurtured the talent of a number of serious contemporary artists including Abbie Miller, Mike Parillo and Suzanne Morlock to name just a few who have gained national recognition. Now, the Artlab’s visiting residency program enables contemporary artists from elsewhere to come here. The impact for our visual art community as well as the town could be huge.

The 15 Artlab artists in residence (including one team of two artists) hail from around the nation and the world and represent a range of disciplines. All are talented and visionary, dedicated to research and to exploring their chosen media. Many will use their residency to respond to the local landscape and region, providing fresh ideas and dialogue about place.

The residencies begin in January with two different artists staying for four weeks. David Buckley Borden is a printmaker from Massachusetts who intends to create a series of prints that map the pressures on Greater Yellowstone’s ecological landscape and its natural resources. New Hampshire sculptor Carmelo Midili uses canvas panels cut from discarded artworks to create colorful, twisting sculptures. Not only does Midili practice recycling, the work also plays with the concept of failure.

In February, Cheyenne-based artist Georgia Roswell will expand upon her work with compressed fabric to create aerial views of geothermal features in Yellowstone and other landscape formations. In March, California installation art team Rebekah Meyer and Tim Berg will explore the commodity side of national parks, utilizing their Koons-esque approach to surface and color.

Also in March, Massachusetts artist Andrew Neumann will work on a project that combines video technology and photography using landscape and the natural environment as visual source material.

Barry Underwood’s archival pigment print Rodeo Beach.

Barry Underwood’s archival pigment print Rodeo Beach.

Roughly half of the visiting artists, including Neumann, Roswell and Borden, were selected because of the way their work intersects with science. Others who will explore scientific themes include California printmaker Jonny Alexander, California sound artist Joshua Short, English video artist Jordan Baseman, Venezuelan light artist Claudia Bueno, New York sculptor Andy Ralph and New Mexico painter Cedra Wood.

Approximately 60 percent of the more than 500 artist residency programs in the United States are in rural areas or small towns. Exploring themes of place and environment often naturally arise out of these settings. While Artlab intentionally chose some artists who explore science and nature in their work, others are coming to Jackson with the intent to research landscape or place in imaginative ways.

California-based Adonna Khare, who will visit in July, makes surreal drawings of animals. Oklahoma painter Jave Yoshimoto weaves animals and nature into his futuristic, print-like paintings. Ohio artist Barry Underwood, set to arrive in June, uses light and installation to comment on environment and place. Indiana painter Marna Sharpoff has an architectural approach and said she will explore the concept of phenomenology as it relates to the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

Design is a common thread for many of the artists. Patterns in nature are another crossover interest. What’s clear from all the applications is the artists’ tremendous shared enthusiasm for working in the Tetons.

According to the Alliance of Artist Communities, artist residency programs are “research-and-development labs for the arts.”

The Alliance goes on to say, “Supporting individuals in the creation of new work is essential to human progress — not as a luxury, not as a leisure activity, but as a vital and necessary force in society. Artists’ residencies are not about retreat; they are about advancement. Advancing creativity. Advancing human progress. Advancing the way we examine the world.”

Bravo, Teton Artlab, for bringing this kind of advancement to our doorstep.

About Meg Daly

Meg Daly is a freelance writer and arts instigator. She grew up in Jackson in the 1970s and 80s, when there were fewer fences, but less culture. Follow Meg on Twitter @MegDaly1

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