transFIGURATION

Rino Pizzi

transFIGURATION is a visual arts collaborative project that includes elements of performance and a series of reflections on identity, authorship, memory, and ritual in art production. It is based on a concept developed by photographer Rino Pizzi and will unfold as a process of exchange, transformation, and appropriation in collaboration with 12 visual artists. Artists will initially sit for a photographic portrait, then they will receive a print that they will damage/destroy it in their own terms. For many of the artists this stage of the process will take place as a public event, such as a performance or a “happening” during the Fusebox Festival (see schedule). In the second stage artists will restore, reintegrate or mend the damaged/destroyed images, again with complete freedom with regard to the extent and nature of the restorations, techniques, imagery and media involved. A final exhibition is scheduled by the end of 2013, venue and dates TBA.

The participating artists all come from different backgrounds, and are mostly full-time residents of Texas. They are (in alphabetical order):

Jill Bedgood

Benito Huerta

Catherine Lee

Shea Little

Michelle Mayer

Wura-Natasha Ogunji

McKay Otto

Margo Sawyer

Shawn Smith

Jana Swec

Jade Walker

Steve Wiman

PARTICIPATING ARTISTS & SCHEDULE

Jade Walker

transFIGURATION: Sharing

912 Congress Thursday April 18, 5:30-7:30pm

Walker received her BFA from the University of Florida and her MFA from The University of Texas at Austin. She was the venue coordinator at the Baughman Center, a division of the University of Florida Performing Arts Center and held a position at the Austin Museum of Art before becoming the Visual Arts Center Director at UT Austin. Her work has been exhibited throughout Texas and at Centro Cultural de Nuevo in Mexico.

Sharing, includes three characters (fitter, bouncer, maker), a skin-toned work space, one large mirror and a set of wearable prostheses. During the course of this intimate performance, Walker invites viewers to become participants in an ongoing examination of the human body intersecting with inanimate objects that fill our livable spaces. The performance will include an active workspace dedicated to producing wearable versions of the body, refashioned through the lens of the artist’s portrait.

Wura-Natasha Ogunji

transFIGURATION

Texas Spirit Theater – Bullock Texas State History Museum April 22, 7:00pm

Wura-Natasha Ogunji is a visual artist and performer. Her works include videos in which she engages her body in explorations of movement and mark-making across water, land and air. She is currently creating new performance works in Lagos, Nigeria as part of a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship.

“I chose to transform my portrait at the sea in Lagos, Nigeria because I have felt so changed by the experience of living and making work here. This particular place is marked by the abandoned ships that stretch for miles along the shore. Though immense, the ships are in a process of constant transformation by the sea as they sink deeper into the sands or are tossed and turned by the ocean. This seemed an ideal place to destroy my own image.” –Wura-Natasha Ogunji

Catherine Lee

transFIGURATION

912 Congress from Thursday April 22, 10:00am through Friday April 23 5:00pm

Catherine Lee is a native Texan, a sculptor and painter. After living 30 years in NYC & London, she has returned to Texas. Her works are included in such collections as the Museum of Modern Art; the Tate Gallery London; the Irish Museum of Modern Art; San Francisco Museum, the Kroeller-Mueller Museum, the Blanton Museum, the McNay, the Museum of Fine Art Houston, as well as AMOA-Arthouse.

“Having grown up in the panhandle of Texas and being a minimalist at heart, I will both obliterate my portrait and create a new abstract painting in one action lasting approximately 16 hours. A stop action film will be produced of this process, which will of course prove the preeminence of abstraction over realism.” — Catherine Lee

Steve Wiman

transFIGURATION

Uncommon Objects, 1512 South Congress, Thursday, April 25, 8:00-9:00pm

Steve Wiman is an assemblage artist who embraces and uses unaltered found materials to create works that speak about beauty and sentimentality. Wiman holds degrees from the University of North Texas (BFA in 1981) and the University of Texas (MFA in 1986). In addition to his art-making career, Wiman owns and operates Uncommon Objects, an antique shop in Austin which reflects his artistic sensibilities.

For transFIGURATION, Wiman plans to have his portrait printed on a well worn woven textile. A public act of intervention will occur at Uncommon Objects at 8:00pm on Thursday, April 25th and will result in the portrait being cut or ripped into pieces. For the final work, the parts will be reassembled after undergoing transformation using a variety of embroidery and stitchery techniques.

McKay Otto

transFIGURATION

AMOA/arthouse at Laguna Gloria, Solarium Sunday April 28, 2:00-2:30pm

McKay Otto grew up near Houston, Texas and now resides in the Texas Hill Country. He attributes his association with Agnes Martin with changing the way he looks at the world and art. Otto’s paintings have simplicity, subtlety, and repetition, incorporating hand made qualities and the lack of mechanical precision. Otto’s work has been featured in exhibitions nationally and internationally since 1989 and has been highlighted in numerous publications including the Huffington Post & Art in America.

“The new work [with transFIGURATION] may bear witness to express another concept of our sense of identity transformed to an ethereal lightness of space. In the destruction of the art object, we may no longer feel bound to physical or material reality–feeling expansive. In the reconstruction, we may find new dimensions to be experienced as new realities unfold.” –Mckay Otto

Shea Little

transFIGURATION: Pocket

Various venues, for the duration of the Festival

Shea Little received a BFA from the School of Visual Arts NYC. Little co-founded Big Medium, the East Austin Studio Tour, the Texas Biennial, and Cantanker Magazine. He is also a working artist, and has shown his work throughout the state both as an individual artist and also as part of a three person collective called Sodalitas.

“I am intrigued by the degradation of paper from constant use, such as maps that are unfolded and refolded until they fall apart, and the efforts used to fix and extend the life of these items. The destruction of my portrait will happen in a similar manner, it will be folded up and carried around with me in my pocket at all times.” — Shea Little

The following participating artists will perform their interventions privately outside of the Fusebox Program, and will be documented on video by Karen Bernstein for the final transFIGURATION Project exhibition (venue and date TBA).

Michelle Mayer

transFIGURATION: Mycorestoration of a Portrait

Canopy, 916 Springdale Road Saturday April 20, 6:00-6:30

Michelle Mayer is an installation media artist working in Brooklyn, New York. A recent Masters graduate from NYU’s ITP Interactive Telecommunications Program, Mayer is a New York Foundation for The Arts 2011 Fellow in Digital and Electronic Arts and performs with Chet Hirsch, collaborator and co-founder of AUX ARMES! Collective.

During Mycorestoration of a Portrait Mayer, in collaboration with Hirsch, initiates the natural decomposition of her printed image via mycoremediation, wherein industrial substances are decontaminated through the cultivation of mushrooms that metabolize them. A ritual space for the print’s inoculation is defined by music and mapped video projections as mycelium are introduced that will continue to mature in a process that gradually decomposes and detoxifies the original photo.

Shawn Smith

transFIGURATION

Shawn Smith creates labor intensive sculptures representing three dimensional pixelated objects of nature. He received his MFA from the California College of the Arts. His work has been exhibited in Europe and throughout the US and is in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

“I’m very interested in nests, particularly the paper nests built by wasps. In keeping with my current body of work which looks at the collision of the digital world and nature, I will repurpose a real wasp nest, inserting small pieces of my digital portrait into each tiny opening.” — Shawn Smith

Jana Swec

transFIGURATION

Jana Swec received a BFA from the School of Visual Arts in 2001 with a focus in Studio Arts. After moving to Austin Texas in 2001, she cofounded the artist run organization Bolm Studios, now known as the non-profit Big Medium, who provides programs such as the East Austin Studio Tour and the Texas Biennial. Jana’s work spans across many techniques and approaches. Her personal work tends toward a mixture between the beauty and darkness of nature, life and death and sexuality. In her collaborative art group, Sodalitas, the work is about the process of working with others and ranges from performance, painting, community collaborations and temporary installations.

For the transFIGURATION project, Jana will explore her own physical and at times emotional destruction from aging and going through life’s challenges. The rebirth comes in many ways from learning, improving, healing, and for some, having children where you are given the opportunity to live as a child again through your own children. The piece will be depicting the constant destruction and rebirth you experience as an aging person and as a parent.

Jill Bedgood

transFIGURATION: Soap

Jill Bedgood creates multi-media works that contemplate the duality of human nature. She received a BFA in painting from LSU-Baton Rouge, and an MFA from the University of Texas at Austin in mixed media and sculpture, and earned numerous awards and residencies. Bedgood has taught at several universities and is currently Adjunct Professor in the Art Department of the Austin Community College.

Soap provides a means for interaction between the artist and participant. The photograph of my hands references the art historical tradition of artists’ hands as portraiture. Applying the image to a large soap, cutting it into usable sizes, sharing it with participants to transform and return to me, the process provides a vehicle for conversation, for relinquishing control, for the unknown to occur. The traces of activity of the transformer’s hands and artist’s repairs are imbedded into the soap to create a memento mori of experience.

Margo Sawyer

transFIGURATION: Homage to Bernini

Throughout her career, Margo Sawyer has created installations which translate the notion of an ancient sacred space into a contemporary vocabulary. She is particularly interested in relationships between the experience of space and the experience of transcendence. Recently, Sawyer’s practice has focused on creating large-scale, often public installations that combine her parallel interests in art and architecture. She is Professor of Sculpture at the University of Texas and has shown extensively in the US and abroad.

Sawyer’s inspiration for her transFIGURATION work is the sculpture by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Apollo and Daphne, depicting the chaste nymph Daphne being turned into a laurel tree, pursued in vain by Apollo, god of light. Sawyer will explore her fascination with art and gardens, particularly the transformation innate in their different growth cycles. Sawyer will document the transformation of her photographic portrait into a field of green vegetation, and present a video in a large screen projection, at a place and date to be determined.

Benito Huerta

transFIGURATION

Benito Huerta was co-founder, Executive Director and Emeritus Board Director of Art Lies, a Texas Art Journal, and is a Professor at the University of Texas at Arlington where he has been Director/Curator of The Gallery at UTA since 1997. His work is known extensively across the United States and is in several museum and corporate collections. Huerta is the recipient of numerous prestigious awards, including Dallas Center for Contemporary Art’s 2002 Legend of the Year Award / Exhibition and is the recipient of first Maestros Tejanos exhibition at the Latino Cultural Center, Dallas.

The photograph will be placed on a 1/2 inch plywood base. The plywood would first be routed in a design that is similar to the painting behind the artist in the photograph. The design would then be traced and transferred to the photograph. The routed area of the plywood would be torched so there is a black residue in the routed area. The traced design on the photograph will be cut away from the photograph. The remaining part of the photograph will be attached to the non-torched, non-routed areas of the plywood. The cutaway part of the photograph will be duplicated on a black and white photo of the same photo shot of the artist. The cutaway will then be placed in the blackened routed area of the plywood. A decision will then be made as to what further intervention needs to be done, if any, such as pouring encaustic into the routed area of the plywood.

transFIGURATION would not be possible without the encouragement and generous support from Deborah Hay, Emily Little, Bill Nemir, and Nancy Scanlan.

Special thanks to Jim Sipowicz of Shell Media, Karen Bernstein, and Meredith Powell of Art Alliance Austin for their invaluable contributions to the project.

Support is also provided by Precision Camera & Video, and the following individuals: David and Ellen Berman, Carrie Bills, Kent Cole and Diana Prechter, Katelena Hernandez Cowles, Phyllis Finley, Jake Gilleland, Mark Holzbach and Dana Friis-Hansen, Karen Kephart, Randy and Cathy Lusk, Patty Olwell, Giacomo Musmeci, Ernesto Pizzi and Maria Pizzuto, and Giuseppe Sturiale.

This project is funded and supported in part by the City of Austin through the Economic Growth & Redevelopment Services Office/Cultural Arts Division believing an investment in the Arts is an investment in Austin’s future. Visit Austin at NowPlayingAustin.com.

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