Window (re/production | re/presentation) — the current exhibit at The Asheville Area Arts Council, and the final show in the Arts Council’s Grove Arcade location — opened last month. But as part of the collective exhibition’s effort to spark thought and conversation, four of the artists involved took part in a panel discussion. The talk, held Thursday, June 9, was moderated by artist Dawn Roe, who founded Window (re/production | re/presentation) in March, 2013, in the window of Henco Reprographics on Broadway Street. There, the noncommercial space provided a place to display two-dimensional work. “I wanted to see what I could do in the community to have a little bit of a dialogue about ideas,” says Roe.
The exhibition at the Arts Council, including work by local artists Roe (who also curated the show), Bridget Conn, Anna Helgeson and Ursula Gullow, along with McLean Fahnestock (Nashville), Dana Hargrove (Maitland, Fla.) and Leigh-Ann Pahapill (Toledo, Ohio and Toronto), takes the concept to the next level. The gallery space allows for three-dimensional work and the various artist’s installations not only spark conversation among viewers by are meant to interact and react to each other.
Gullow, who launched a self-portrait-a-day project several years ago, scans her paintings so they exist both as original works and digital copies online. She chose to print the scans, manipulating the color and size of the work. The collage, installed on one wall at the Arts Council, is arranged with smaller and therefore older works at the top, or farther from the viewer. “It’s become a visual journal for me,” she says. “A lot of times I can remember the exact circumstances involved in making a portrait.
Helgeson used photography to examine the ways in which woman are erased from history. Using large scale photo copies, she staged portraits of historic women, including their bios, and as repeat reproduction degraded the photo quality, the bios faded out, too, until all that remained of these women was a ghostly image and the names of their famous husbands. “Throughout the project I was interested in ideas of loss,” she says. “I was also interested in ideas of performance.”
She adds, “I was interested in how we assign value to art. For this project, I was thinking about how to make valuable art without using valuable materials.”
Conn focused on chemograms, a darkroom process that creates images by brushing chemicals onto sensitized photographic paper. “A chemogram is a unique print,” she says. Due to the nature of the exhibit, “It became interesting to think about how I could play with reproduction.”
Asked about whether advancing technology in her art form leads to eradication of certain processes, Conn says her work spanned a range of tools, from analog to digital to translation in Photoshop. Interested in experimentation, she used spray butter as a protectorate for one image. “I was really trying to push the variable,” she says. “A lot of my work has been about a gestural mark.”
Ideas of reproduction extend from photo copies to floor tiles to a vinyl record, created by Fahnestock, that is a promised gift to the Smithsonian.
The exhibit remains on display through Saturday, June 25.