Material Message: Photographs of Fabric
DateMay 15 - June 26, 2021
VenueWeston Art Gallery
Helen and Brian Heekin
CINCINNATI, OH—On Saturday, May 15, the Cincinnati Arts Association’s Alice F. and Harris K. Weston Art Gallery in the Aronoff Center for the Arts will open Material Message: Photographs of Fabric, a group exhibition of photographers curated by Marcella Hackbardt (Mt. Vernon, OH) responding to fabric’s aesthetic, formal, and conceptual potential, exploiting the medium’s malleability to construct messages ranging from notions of the veil to reveries of memory. Participating artists include Patty Carroll (Chicago, IL), Elizabeth M. Claffey (Bloomington, IN), John Mann (Oak Park, IL), Selina Román (Tampa, FL), Jacinda Russell (Indianapolis, IN), Leonard Suryajaya (Chicago, IL), and Morgan Ford Willingham (Emporia, KS).
Curator Marcella Hackbardt provides an overview and the conceptual links between the participating artists in her curatorial statement: “In Material Message these artists use fabric in order to subvert preconceived notions of social roles and the self, as in Patty Carroll’s draped female figures, and Selina Román’s Burqa Project photographs that question power, politics, and the unreturned gaze. John Mann collapses distinctions between the literal and abstraction, and Jacinda Russell complicates performance and documentary presentation with hotel towels. Elizabeth M. Claffey's glowing, ghost-like apparitions attest to the temporality and longevity of familial devotions. Using the most delicate and barely-there fabric as a substrate for overt programming, Morgan Ford Willingham's masks whisper destructive desires. Leonard Suryajaya ignites the optical nerves with extravagant patterns, colors, and textile sources, in images of tenderness and a beautifully chaotic ethos.
In addition to the photographic works presented in the Weston’s lower galleries, Leonard Suryajaya will create New Stand, a new installation in the Weston’s atrium space that mimics a newsstand in a deconstructed form. Inspired by the disorienting impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, this skeletal stage serves as a selfie backdrop for viewers to reflect on their own pandemic experiences and share renewed commitments and positive outcomes through social media posts.
Material Message (installation view - lower entry) Patty Carroll (left), Leonard Suryajaya (middle), Jacinda Russell (right)
Material Message (installation view - West Gallery) - Jacinda Russell (left), Patty Carroll (middle), John Mann (right)
John Mann, untitled (tablecloth & candles), from The Echo's Wait series, 2016, archival inkjet print, 30 x 36 inches
Material Message (installation view - corridor), Morgan Ford Willingham (left), Selina Roman (right), Leonard Suryajaya (far right).jpg
Leonard Suryajaya (l-r) Naval String (2016), Bella (2016), Calvin (2015), archival pigment prints, 42 x 52 inches
Material Message (installation view - East Gallery), Elizabeth M. Claffey (left), Selina Roman (right)
Material Message (installation view - East Gallery) - Elizabeth M. Claffey (left), Selina Roman (right)
Elizabeth M. Claffey, Matrilinear Series, 2016-17, archival inkjet prints, 24 x 18 inches, (each), 40 x 30 inches (center image)