Different Registers is an exhibition at Camayuhs in Atlanta, Georgia curated by Corey Oberlander and Lindsey Stapleton with works by Caitlin MacBride, Sarah Tortora, and Derrick Velasquez.
“Craft is a wedge that reveals stark distinctions within ideologies of taste and value. Craft polarizes and collapses theoretical positions about what making means today. Craft is contemporary because it is the pivot between art and commerce, between work and leisure, between the past and the future. There is no such thing as "the contemporary," and there is no such thing as craft. With all its complexities, with all its different registers of meaning across history, across class, across gender, across institutions, craft is all of these things, some of these things, none of these things.” - Julia Bryan-Wilson (2013)
There are hierarchies of objects. They are ever-changing, undefined, overdetermined, and are scrutinized, studied, and judged by infinite points of view.
It’s basic perception. It’s that old cliche “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, except that not all perspectives regard beauty. It’s interpretation. It’s the often egregious posturing of institutions, their rank-and-file, and their constituents. It’s when you walk into a museum and spend the most time in front of the polished 12-foot-balloon-sculpture because it’s shiny, expensive, and made of steel, or it’s reading the wall text or labels like a wordsearch puzzle just to see if the paintings are by an artist you recognize by name. It’s these self-aggrandizing acts instead of, maybe, spending your time in front of works with more potential energy, or with a more complex object history, provenance or concept, skill or craft. It’s the preserved 5th century amphora passed by in the atrium, the emerging artist presented on the cafe wall, and the local jeweler at the gift shop.
At the turn of the 15th, the Renaissance in Europe marked a re-emergence of Greek and Roman concepts found within the sociopolitical structures. Notably in the arts, the Renaissance marked a shift in the concept of the Artist as being now appreciated not by the quantity or frequency but rather the (subjective) quality or merit of their creations.
Giorgio Vasari’s c.1550 publication Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects was a catalyst for the population redefining “Artist”, but it also created a hierarchical split between the Painters, Sculptors, or Architects (now “Artists”) and the Jewelers, Ceramicists, Blacksmiths, Quilters, and other makers (now “Artisans”). Such artisans, or craftspeople in contemporary definitions, were now carrying a lesser connotation along with their practice, as they weren’t so widely celebrated as spectacle or appreciated on a grand scale by the influencers of the population.
These same concepts are pervasive in contemporary art, where the distinction between art and craft are often split by a line in the sand, often dictated by individual perspective rather than an inarguable definition. Much art is dependent on craft, and much craft is combating the definitions of both.
The artists included in Different Registers aren’t exclusively recontextualizing the craft or material they are mimicking, so much as questioning the identity, or assignment, of the object in the first place. As artists with their fingers in the contemporary art world pie, the work they produce is, by definition, contemporary. By presenting the imagery of centuries-old crafted products in their work, the objects they reference become different; the subjects no longer fall within the realm of craft or functionality and they now belong as Art with a capital A.
ABOUT CAITLIN MACBRIDE
Caitlin MacBride’s paintings directly reference object images pulled from museum archives. Reframed within the confines of oil painting on canvas, artisanal products are removed from their own context, creating tension and longing for their three-dimensional counterparts accepted identity, and former purpose. Focusing on antique furniture, textile fragments or patterns, ceramic shards from ancient vases, MacBride ignores the contemporary versions of these commonplace items and pointedly interacts with their predecessors.
MacBride is an artist living and working in New York. She received her MFA in painting at Bard College and holds a BFA from RISD. MacBride has had solo shows at Chapter NY, Real Fine Arts, and GRIN and appeared in group shows at Greene Naftali, Zach Feuer, 315 Gallery, Neiman Gallery, and 247365. Her work has been written about in Modern Painters, Art Forum, Dis Magazine, New York Magazine, and Vogue.com. She has completed residencies at the Salzburg Summer Akademy, Lighthouse Works, and Frontispiece.
ABOUT SARAH TORTORA
Sarah Tortora takes less from whole objects and instead looks at canonized components of craft and architecture. Steles, Greek Key patterns, Trojan Horses and other recognizable elements of objects from history books are just as integral to her work as in their original roles. Working with architecture as well as crafted objects, Tortora stylizes these elements but doesn’t steer far from institutionalized lexicography of sculptural form, ultimately letting the viewer develop their own correlation between contemporary art, architecture, and craft.
Sarah Tortora currently lives and works in Vermont. A former participant at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine, she also holds an MFA in Interdisciplinary Fine Art from the University of Pennsylvania. She earned her BS in Studio Art from Southern Connecticut State University in 2011. She was an Artist in Residence at the MacDowell Colony in 2014 and at the Webb School of Knoxville in Tennessee in early 2016. Tortora has had solo shows in New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Tennessee. Her work has been shown at Tiger Strikes Asteroid in Los Angeles, Julius Caesar in Chicago, Five Points Gallery in Connecticut, and The Boston Sculptors Gallery. She was awarded an Assets for Artists Grant through MASSMoCA & ArtHome in 2014, and was the 2015-2016 Alice C. Cole 1942 Fellow in Studio Art through Wellesley College.
ABOUT DERRICK VELASQUEZ
Utilizing prefabricated molding and faux interior decorative elements commonly used to embellish the copy/paste-style mansions of the upper-middle class American suburb, Derrick Velasquez pokes and prods at ironic hierarchies in Art, Architecture, and Design. Referencing elements initially conceived generations ago, Velasquez works with foam, plastic, particle-board or vinyl copies of the recognizable styles once fabricated with marble, bronze, or even gold. Originals of copies of originals, the works in this exhibition are purposefully paired, fitting into the architecture of the home-cum-gallery alongside the pre-existing nods to earlier, maybe more defined times.
Derrick Velasquez was born in 1982 in Lodi, California. After earning a Bachelor’s degree in Studio Arts and Art History at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Velasquez received an MFA from The Ohio State University. He has had solo exhibitions at The Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver; Herron School of Art and Design, Indianapolis; Black Cube Nomadic Museum, Denver; Volta Art Fair, New York City; and group exhibitions at the Pearlstein Gallery, Drexel University, Philadelphia; The New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fe; among other venues. Velasquez has been an Affiliate Instructor at Metropolitan State University in Denver since 2010. He is the founding director and curator of Yes Ma’am Projects. Velasquez is represented by Pentimenti Gallery, in Philadelphia, and Robischon Gallery, in Denver, where he lives and works.
ABOUT THE CURATORS
Opening as a brick-and-mortar gallery in Providence, Rhode Island in, GRIN transitioned to a decentralized curatorial collaborative in 2018 and is now based out of Atlanta, Georgia. GRIN is an effort by Corey Oberlander & Lindsey Stapleton, who are co-founders of The Rib, an online platform that provides coverage and support to art communities outside of New York and Los Angeles.
ABOUT THE TEMPERATURE
Different Registers is a component of The Temperature, a nine month exhibition series produced by the Neon Heater. Along with staging month-long shows at the gallery in Findlay, Ohio as the exhibition narrative plays out, there will be loosely related curatorial efforts running concurrently in other galleries across the United States.
September - The Setting
October - Cast of Characters
November - Love Story
December - The Rise of an Art World Super Villain
January - Love Story pt. 2
February - The Chess Club
March - Something Utopian
April - Deaf Ears
May - Conclusion
ABOUT THE NEON HEATER
The Neon Heater is a contemporary art gallery in Findlay, OH owned and curated by Ian Breidenbach and Emily Jay. It opened in November of 2012, and has monthly exhibitions with a curatorial focus on conceptual and installation based works, contemporary photography and painting trends, and video and new media.