WORK IN PROGRESS
Issue 6 celebrates WIP’s one year anniversary and presents the work of artists Alex Sewell, Alex Bierk, Corey Presha, Libby Black, Mark Ryan Chariker, and Patrice Renee Washington. This issue’s group of artists explore questions of objecthood, constructions of history, and representations of place and memory. These six artists’ work engage in explorations of personal, historical, and imagined truths of reality.
Material objects are simultaneously reconstructed and dissected, transforming our understanding of things, space, and place. Patrice Renee Washington’s ceramic sculptures and installations utilize objects as signifiers, questioning through their recreation how materials, foods, and items construct our identities and are utilized by society as symbols of oppression, othering, and identification. In Libby Black’s work, sculptural still-lifes constructed from painted paper are both reproductions of actual, consumer goods, and imagined constructions of these very items. Layering these images, objects, and references, Black constructs sculptural forms while also creating unique narratives that re-examine how objects function socially, politically, and personally.
In both Alex Bierk and Alex Sewell’s respective practices, personal history and memory are merged with explorations of larger social issues around them. Bierk’s paintings are representative of his own personal experiences, and also act an archive of the landscapes and histories of place of space that surrounds those memories. Sourcing images from his own photography, his work operates as a transcription of captured time, suspending moments in expressionistic space. Sewell’s work also sources content from his own memories of youth and popular culture as a jumping point into looking at semiotics and how visual language operates in a social conscious. Sewell’s paintings reveal a multiplicity of affective associations through his manipulation and assemblage of disparate subject matter and imagery, resulting in works that are grounded within a time and history of content, yet also transcendent of one.
Corey Presha’s paintings are directly tied to history, sourcing imagery from postcards, found materials, and images of Black Americana from the early 20th century. Though looking back, Presha’s work is grounded in the present, using this sourced content to examine how racism and constructs of class, social relationships, and politics have endured internally and outwardly in American society today. But whereas Presha’s works are in direct dialogue with a concrete past and present, Mark Ryan Chariker’s prints and oil paintings are imagined scenes of nature and narrative that bend and confuse our perception of space, place, and relationships. Incorporating rich references to art historical landscape and master paintings, Chariker builds his scenes with recognizable features, yet muddles their relation to the real, forcing the viewer to question whether a scene is in the past, present, or future, whether it can exist in the reality of Earth, and whether these scenes are beautiful, terrifying, or both.
Across all these artists’ work operates a dissection of reality, confronting our constructions of history, material being, and perceptions of the present. Working in a variety of mediums -- from ceramics to lithography, painting, painted sculpture, and printmaking -- these artists present a breadth of work that rich, investigatory, and incredibly contemporary. Special thanks to Alex Bierk, Alex Sewell, Patrice Renee Washington, Corey Presha, Libby Black, and Mark Ryan Chariker for their participation and incredible patience working with me on this issue. And also a huge thank you to Val Ocampo for designing a beautiful layout for this anniversary issue.
- Sholeh Hajmiragha