Current Exhibition: WORD. palabra, ,كلمة字, Wort, mot, ワード, слово, parola
July 20 @ 5:30 pm - September 9 @ 4:00 pm
The Artists Archives of the Western Reserve (AAWR) is pleased to announce Word– an exhibit disposed/preferential to the subject/object of WORDS. The exhibition is inclusive of but not restricted to their use in media and or as an aesthetic vehicle for communication and expression. In other WORD(S) an exhibit exploring WORDS. This curated show will feature the diverse multi-media work of Ohio artists Liz Maugans, Janet Mikolajczyk, Clarissa Jakobsons, Shirley Ende-Saxe, Jon Keppel, Todd Leech, Maurice Sherman, and Archived Artist Adele Marihatt.
The use of words in this exhibition is as varied as the media chosen to depict them. From the “simplest representation of a visual idea,” to magical invocations and gateways into interior realities, each artist was chosen for their unique “sensitivity to language” and its complicated workings in our text-saturated society.
The opening reception, to be held at the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve on Thursday, July 20th 5:30 – 8:00pm will host a performance art piece by CAN Journal co-founders Liz Maugans and Michael Gill featuring live printing. Cleveland poet Chris Franke, known for his many collaborations with Archived Artist Adele Marihatt, will also be performing a reading of his work.
Janet Mikolajczyk is a visual artist and art historian who has lectured at multiple institutions including Cleveland State University, Akron University, and the Cleveland Institute of Art where she covered the Medieval to early modern eras. Mikolajczyk also served as adjunct professor of art history at Ursuline College and has exhibited her art extensively around the region.
In Mikolajczyk’s work, text becomes a somatic landscape through which the viewer must journey to find meaning. The Dante’s Inferno series features 13 cantos from the 14th-century epic wrapped around tree-like forms that seem to sprout from the gallery floor. “I felt that because Dante starts in the dark woods, a forest of totems would be appropriate,” Mikolajczk explains.
Viewers are encouraged to make their own physical pilgrimage through the words of Dante, which transforms into the surface of the work as they twist and curl around each totem. Mikolajczk continues, “As the poem moves the medium changes. For example, the words were first written in Conté crayon, or stamped and at the end of the poem the words were printed on transparencies.” This shift in materials not only denotes the passage of time as traditional wood transitions to contemporary plastic, “but indicates content because deep in the Inferno all is frozen.”
Clarissa Jakobsons is a poet and visual artist who tangibly combines her passions by the creation of unique “artist books” which have been exhibited at the Denver Abecedarium Gallery, Cleveland Museum of Art Ingalls Library, Morgan Conservatory, the Beck Center, Cuyahoga Community College, the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center and many other institutions. Jakobsons has also taught numerous courses on the topics of visual art, writing and bookmaking.
On view in Word are several of Jakobsons’ mesmerizing “crystal books” which are created through the hand-manipulation of manuscripts in Borax. The finished sculptures take on a crystalline quality which reflects the light and represents the changing of “old into new.”
One such crystal book on display is One Hundred American Poems which is also part of an interactive installation. Viewers are encouraged to select words from the frozen pages and transcribe them onto paper, “salvaging phrases into new poems.”
Liz Maugans is a Cleveland artist, co-founder and Executive Director of Zygote Press, and the founder of the Collective Arts Network (CAN) Journal. Maugans has organized numerous one-person and thematic exhibitions featuring regional, national and internationally known artists. Her curatorial specialization is her devotion to emerging art, social justice and local experimental practices that broaden access through social networks and community-building initiatives.
The work Maugans is exhibiting in Word is part of her Desperate Signs series which explores how people coped with the difficult after-math of the Great Recession. Her pieces incorporate transactions and ads from Craigslists, Penny Saver Magazines, signage and personal classifieds. Maugans explains, “I am interested in particular phrases that originate in my familial vernacular, a kind of story-telling rumination on the power and brevity of language.”
By examining these salient times as expressed in language, Maugans pins down the moments when personal desperation becomes a broader cultural reality. “Like in a Craigslist ad, the narrative unfolds between the people who want and those that need- much of the physicality we express daily falls neatly into those two categories”
One of the most doggedly-held beliefs about language is that the meaning of words is somehow fixed or immutable. Shirley Ende-Saxe’s multi-media collages boldly and systematically challenge this notion. Ende-Saxe explains, “Words and text are supposed to clarify, perhaps validate, authorize and record but [my] work conjures something more uncertain, elastic and suspicious,”
In Ende-Saxe’s work, written language loses its footing and slips perilously out of place. “Similar to the way collage is reassembled to demonstrate the instability of images,” Ende-Saxe rearranges strips of text into lattices or webs which partially obscure the images underneath. “The stiff rows of letters become textures or values and a reminder, that once, these words were very precise.”
Ende-Saxe received her MA in Art Education from Kent State University and has exhibited her works widely, winning many awards, such as the 2015 Merit Award in the Massillon Art Museum’s Ohio Collage Society Member Show and 1st Place in the Artist’s of Rubber City May Show in Akron, OH. Ende-Saxe’s work has also been included in multiple publication including COLLAGE LAB by Bee Shay and ALPHABETICA by Lynne Perrella.
Jon Keppel is a writer, musician and conceptual artist from Akron, Ohio. Keppel, who holds a BFA from the Ohio State University, is a member of the Artists of Rubber City in Akron and has displayed his work both nationally and internationally. In 2017, Keppel gave a TEDx Akron Talk about art in the city of Akron and beyond.
Keppel’s innovative artwork focuses on the “idea and perceived reality of presence both as a conduit for perceptual experiences and also as a subject of contemplation.” Keppel’s work ask the viewer to participate in a form of mental collage, deliberately rearranging pieces of ideas and concepts into evocative new configurations to create meaning.
As Keppel describes it, “In essence it is the conference of art onto chunks of reality, making [those] chunks as deﬁned by time and place into readymades reminiscent of Marcel Duchamp. Instead of an object like a bottle rack being presented as art as a part of a brick and mortar exhibition, my work takes swaths of reality as it is lived such as a city (New York City for example) and asks the participant to consider that entire city and what happens there as a work of art”
In Word, Keppel’s conceptual piece Entrance focuses on the interpersonal potential of art, or “transpersonal art” as he calls it. “Themes with this aspect of my work deal with the generative power of conversation as it relates to the development of self and the objective modeling of the world as we come to know it.”
Todd Leech is a Cleveland raised sculptor with an MFA in ceramics from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. His current works are platter forms meticulously imprinted with text from contemporary pop culture- often song lyrics. These salvaged messages are revealed through the craters sandblasted into the surface of the work, giving the pieces the appearance of being eroded over time.
“The content of the texts deal with advanced technologies and its influence on modern humankind and the environment. These quotes, like prophecies or declarations, are archived in clay, not unlike the historical inscribed artifacts of past civilizations.” By re-contextualizing these fragments of popular culture as distant, dystopic artifacts, Leech highlights their bleak socio-economic implications and brings into question the future of our world.
Maurice Sherman is a photographer and illustrator who was educated at the School of Visual Arts in New York, New York. His images in Word reflect his childhood in Coney Island, New York and highlight the deliberate and visceral use of language in advertising and popular culture.
Sherman’s graphic background can be seen in his hands-on approach to his work, or what he calls his “take it then make it” method of production. Sherman explains “Capturing the image is not just documentation but the beginning of my process. Enhancing the image to reflect atmosphere and texture allows me to add my hand in creating the finished work.”
Sherman’s work, like Leech’s, deals with the use of language in popular culture and examines how the meaning of words change when isolated and re-contextualized. Viewers of Sherman’s carnival-inspired pieces are left to ponder what words like “chaos,” “thrills” and “wonder” even mean when they are glowing in neon and towering stories over the heads of passers-by.
The work of Archived Artist Adele Marihatt will also be on display in the upcoming exhibition. Marihatt was born in Winterthur, Switzerland and though she initially showed an aptitude in art (at 16, her stained-glass window design was chosen for the entrance hall of the Swiss National Library); she began her professional career studying physiology and medicine. After the birth of her second of three children, she returned to art and became an Archived Artist at the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve in 2002. She exhibited her painting widely until her untimely death from cancer in 2010.
Word will feature two large canvases from Marihatt’s Reflections series, works which were inspired by the coy pond of a quiet tea house in Osaka, Japan in 1994. Marihatt’s works typically combine elements of poetry and mathematics with natural imagery- a juxtaposition that allows the viewer to ruminate on themes of language, meaning and translation between the real and the representational.
Marihatt’s use of language in these pieces takes on a mystical quality, resembling mantras or incantations that infuse the elemental quality of her work. Two E.E. Cummings poems are featured in her pieces, including I Will Wade Out in Reflection 46. Artist and writer Douglas Max Utter described the words emerging from the depths likes “bubbles,” surfacing then drifting across the watery face of the inverted images.
As part of this exhibition and the new 2017 ART BITES series of Professional Practices for Artists programs, AAWR will present Word Play with Laura Grace Weldon on Saturday, August 12th. 1:00-3:00 pm at the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve. This small-group workshop will consist of a series of writing exercises, both solo and collaborative, designed to stretch participants into seeing language differently.
The opening reception and exhibition are FREE and open to the public. The program is also FREE, however, please visit artistsarchives.org or call 216.721.9020 to register.
This exhibition was curated by the AAWR exhibition committee- Archived Artists Mindy Tousley (Chair, Executive Director), Barbara Gillette, Bonnie Gordon, William Martin Jean, Stuart Pearl, and Member Artists Marti Higgins, Lisa Kenon, George Kocar and John A. Sargent III.
The Artists Archives of the Western Reserve would also like to thank Ohio Arts Council, Cuyahoga Arts & Culture, Ohio Art Dealers Association, the George Gund Foundation, the Bernice & David E. Davis Foundation, the William Bingham Foundation and the Zufall Foundation for their continuing support.