“Physical substance in general, as distinct from mind and spirit; (in physics) that which occupies space and possesses rest mass, especially as distinct from energy.”— The Oxford English Dictionary
VIBRANT MATTERS features art produced with a truly astonishing array of media (discarded cans, bronze, animal corpses, tomato paste, dog hair, fish skins, wooden nickels, Masonic relics, platinum and palladium) notable for their variety and mesmerizing effect. These artworks are made of everyday materials, which have been imbued with a new energy and enthusiasm.
The seven artists in this exhibition work with the literal, inanimate objects or (in some cases) once-animate objects and, metaphorically, re-animate them, giving them a new vibrancy. VIBRANT MATTERS explores the theme of material transformation, either literal or metaphorical, examining the very nature of matter itself.
David Emitt Adams collects discarded cans from the desert floor, some a half-century old, their rich, rusty patinas the result of exposure to light over time – the two main elements crucial to the photographic medium itself. Adams transforms these found objects through the laborious 19th century wet-plate collodion photographic process, producing images on their surfaces, which point to human involvement with the landscape.
David Aschenbrener’s non-editioned bronzes transform matter, from ice into bronze, in a fashion similar to the medieval alchemists, who sought to transmute base metals into gold while seeking scientific and spiritual wisdom through their experiments. After more than a decade in a number of American fine art foundries Aschenbrener is a master of the ancient “lost-wax method” invented in the 3rd millennium BC a method more than 5,000 years old.
Sarina Brewer is a founder of the Rogue Taxidermy art movement that references pop art, surrealism, and naturalism. Brewer resurrects dead animals and gives them a second life by reincarnating them as chimerical creatures with personal significance. Her transformative and fantastical pieces pay homage to the animals she utilizes, all of which are ethically sourced, none of which are killed for her work.
Erica Spitzer Rasmussen is a fiber artist who often works with clothing as subject matter and medium to explore issues of identity and corporeality. The artist says much of her work is “inspired by childhood myths or adult anxieties regarding my body.” Erica works with handmade paper and everyday materials like tomato paste, dog hair, sausage casings and dried fish skins, transforming them into beautiful, talismanic garments.
Chris Strouth is a musician and filmmaker with roots in the now-legendary Rifle Sport art gallery in the 1980s. He founded Future Perfect, an experimental dub sound system that played frequently at the Walker Art Center and had a three-year residency at the Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art. Strouth was Director of Artist and Product for Twin/Tone Records and has produced records with dozens of artists.
Michael Thomsen is a sculptor and filmmaker and the creator of the film “Cento.” The Latin definition of Cento is “a cloak made of patches.” Thomsen’s mysterious film inspires one at once with dark wonder and hope. The artist himself has suggested that his elaborately carved, obsessively crafted, quasi-Baroque assemblages resemble memorials to a fantasy, shrines that “pay homage to the precious and the absurd.”
Keith Taylor’s photographic project “Dark Matter,” which consists of a limited edition artist’s book of photogravures and a portfolio of platinum prints. “Dark Matter” is an exploration of particle physics as metaphysics staged deep in an abandoned mineshaft, where scientists seek to find physical evidence of creation – dare we say God, in the form of “dark” matter from the big bang.