Wednesday, May 11, 2011

In Conversation: Handshake Test and Every 7 Letter Word in the English Language

Jessica Hoffman, Every 7 Letter Word
in the English Language
, 2010, Typewriter,
Typewritten text on Mohawk superfine paper,
Typewriter- 14" x 17", Paper roll 2" wide, length
undetermined, courtesy of the artist
Jessica Hoffman, Handshake Test,
2010, Typewritten text on Mohawk
Superfine paper, Shelf 5' x 8', Folios
4" x 5", courtesy of the artist

In honor of the current Members' Juried Show, Duets, I've decided to try something a little different. Instead of going "In Depth," I'll be rambling on about two pieces "in conversation" with each other. Duets invited artists to pair two pieces of their work that would illuminate, complicate, and/or complement each other. The two pieces I'll be writing about today are Jessica Hoffman's Hand Shake Test and Every 7 Letter Word in the English Language. In Hand Shake Test, Hoffman reports the results of a recurring experiment. The artist approached various people on various days at various times and attempted to shake hands with them. She documents the results in a series of small, folded, pieces of paper--booklets, almost--that record the number of people who accepted the handshake, the number who declined, and one or two sentences that summarize her experience that day. The results are a surprisingly poignant portrait of human nature. Every 7 Letter Word in the English Language's title is rather self-explanatory. The artist has, with the help of the typewriter that acts as an anchoring element to the piece, typed every seven letter word in the English language. The result of this typographical odyssey is a long, winding, piece of paper that would swim with words if they weren't so precisely aligned with each other. Instead, the words form an almost impenetrable, though thin, wall that quickly overwhelms the viewer. When paired together, these two pieces provide a fascinating commentary on the norms of human interaction, its rituals, and its nuances.

Much like the seemingly impenetrable block of text in Every 7 Letter Word, the handshakes of Test were, at first, strangely threatening to the men and women Hoffman approached. Hoffman records anecdotes of mistrust and misunderstanding as well as an overwhelming number of "declines" in her handshake journals. One woman didn't even seem to understand, until her companion posited a theory, that all Hoffman wanted was to shake hands.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Art on the Town

There's a familiar buzz in the air at the DCCA. That's right; it's that time again: the May Art on the Town is happening this Friday!

This month we've go quite a bit to look forward to. Let's start with the art: At 6:00 we'll be having a special "Live from LA" Q&A with our (until recently) resident artist Sandro Del Rosario. Starting at 6:30 we'll be having gallery talks with Daniel Belasco (the juror for our Duets show), four of our fantastic Duets artists, and video artist Claire Folkman.

The DCCA's May loop will also feature music from a live band, Little Invisibles . Though they may not be visible, they'll certainly be audible from 5:00-6:30 and from 7:00-9:00.

You may be wondering why there's going to be such a party atmosphere at the DCCA this Friday. The answer is simple: we're having a fashion show. "Where Art and Fashion Connect" is a collaborative project that brings together the talented people at Currie Hair, Skin, & Nails, Beehive Custom Design House, and the DCCA's very own Alternatives Museum Shop. There will be  high fashion, high hair, and high art. What's not to love?

So, what's the message to take away from all this? It's simple really: The DCCA is the place to be this Loop Night. See you soon!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Works in Progress: A Juried Romance in Three Basmajians

Alissa Adams, Best Screen-Cap Ever, 2011, Macintosh
Grab Utility, "Found" DCCA Website art
Wait...that didn't come out quite right.

A couple of posts ago, I reminded you wonderful people that two DCCA exhibitions are coming to a close in the next week or so. While it's always sad to see a well-loved piece of art leave the DCCA, these departures herald new art and new exhibitions for all!

In fact, starting May 6th, three new exhibitions will be opening at the DCCA. Here in the back office we've heard rumblings about Chris Basmajian's new installation, the results of the Annual Members Juried Exhibition, and a brand, spanking new piece of video art by Claire Folkman. It's going to get a little crazy here at the DCCA.

Chris Basmajian will begin installing his interactive video work, I need Some Space to Think, on the 26th of April. If you're lucky, you might be able to peek into the Hennessy Project Space and see him at work in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, our DCCA preparator will be closing books and hanging pieces selected by the juror of this year's members show, Daniel Belasco, in the Bieber/Ham Gallery.

And, in a deceptively anti-climactic installation process, someone (probably our overworked preparator) will switch Jayoung Yoon's DVD out for a DVD of Claire Folkman's video, Young Love: A Romance in Three Acts. You can watch the romance-novel-inspired video in our Moving Media Hall, adjacent to the Dupont 2 Gallery.

A Special Event: From My Collection to Yours

I should probably mention right off the bat that the "my" in this post's title doesn't refer to things that belong to yours truly. Trust me though, this is a good thing; if you're a contemporary art person you probably aren't interested in a collection of Napoleon figurines and well-loved copies of Jane Eyre. Even if you were interested in the above-mentioned items, you'd have to beat me at a game of Risk to get them. 

*Ahem* Right.  Where were we?

"From My Collection to Yours" is the DCCA's Spring 2011 Fundraiser, and it's happening tomorrow night from 6 to 9 in the evening. There will be live music, a truly mouth watering menu (which I've pasted onto the bottom of this post in case you don't want to take my word about the "mouth watering" part), and gently used modern and contemporary art for *extremely* reasonable prices. Area collectors have donated items from their collections to the DCCA specifically for this fundraiser. These pieces, along with some truly fancy international trips, will be lots in a silent auction that will be held in the auditorium of the DCCA. Food, music, and maybe even dancing will happen in the lobby. 

DCCA Members: $40
DCCA Future Members: $50

I'll see you there!

The mouth watering menu from...

Jeffrey Miller Catering
Hors d' Oeuvres
Micro Cheeseburgers
Served On Mini Brioche Buns With Honey-mustard Ketchup and Micro Fries
Baby Lamb Chops
Dijon, White Wine And Rosemary Encrusted Baby Chops Cut Straight From The Rack
Sashimi Tuna Cones
Spicy Ahi Tuna Blended With Ginger And Cilantro In A Crisp Shell
Endive Fingers
Spread With Herbed Cheese And Sprinkled With Alfalfa Sprouts
The Love Note
A Phyllo Envelope Of Asian Pear, Goat Cheese And Caramelized Shallots
Indonesian Chicken Satay
Skewered And Served With Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce
Slow Cooked Duck
Juicy Slow-cooked Duck Served On A Fresh Corn Pancake Topped With Grilled Pineapple Chutney
Chow Fun
Choice Of Duck Or Shrimp

-Raw Bar
Iced Canadian Oysters & Top Neck Clams Hand-shucked To Order And Served With Lemon Wedges Cocktail & Mignonette Sauce

-Blini Bar
Buckwheat Blinis Are Pan-fried To Order And Offered With Sour Cream, Minced Chives, Melted Butter, Chopped Purple Onions And Fresh Salmon Caviar
-Creme Brulee Station
Ginger, Chocolate, Lavander And Vanilla Flavors

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

At the Horizon Line: Brain Fruit II and The Book

Sometimes the shiny and new exhibits make me forget about things that are already happening at the DCCA. Or, as in this case, they make me forget about the exhibits that are about to end. This past Friday, one of the DCCA staffers invited a few of her friends to the museum for Loop Night. While I was pleased to meet these delightful people, I confess that my pleasure in meeting them was of the selfish kind. Even if an exhibit is only up for a few months, seeing it everyday can deaden the impact of the art therein. Walking through the galleries with the staffer's friends made the exhibits seem fresh and new.

It had been a while since I peeked into the Constance Hennessy Project Space, but when I visited it with the DCCA newbies I was reminded again of how much I enjoy Jackie Brown's off-beat organic forms and spidery, vaguely sinister orange rods.  It had been less time since I'd visited the Carol Bieber and Marc Ham gallery to peruse the book show, but taking the time to stroll around and see the books through new eyes reawakened by initial wonder.

Unfortunately, just as I realized (for the second time) how much fun these exhibits were, I remembered that they were closing in less than two weeks time.

Enter this blog post. If you haven't seen Brain Fruit II or The Book: A Contemporary View yet, I highly recommend visiting the DCCA and checking them out. Both exhibits close April 17th, so your last chance to see them here is fast approaching. While The Book will appear at Towson University in September, Brain Fruit II will be gone forever after it leaves the DCCA. Well, sort of. Jackie Brown reassembles and reconfigures the piece, essentially creating a new piece altogether, in each location that shows her sculptures. So, you'll still be able to see the sculptures; it just won't be the same.

So, carpe diem! Carpe ars!  ...Or carpe whatever the Latin direct object form of "art" happens to be.

Jackie Brown, Brain Fruit II, 2010
Susan White, Between a Rock and a Hard Place, 2010

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

In Depth: Atropa Mandragora

Alicia Bailey, Atropa Mandragora, 2003,
Glass book with box, pages etched and fired
glass, coptic binding, edition of five, box dimensions
10" x 8" x 3", courtesy of the artist
I often find myself talking with either visual people or literary people (or, as I like to think of them, "look people" or "book people"). Because of this, I've had many occasions to hear arguments in favor of, in turn, the supremacy of the image over the word and the supremacy of the word over the image, especially in terms of communicating ideas. The "look people" will tell you that there is no purer or more effective way of communicating than to come upon an image and, in one instant, see and know everything that you need to know. "Book people" will scoff at this na├»ve approach to knowledge and argue that a logical and linear approach laid out in textual form is far superior to any image. I'm not sure how well the more extreme individuals in each of these groups would deal with Alicia Bailey's Atropa Mandragora. Ms. Bailey's piece takes the best of these two approaches to communication and forges them together by binding plates of glass that have been drawn and written upon. This collapsing of two disparate elements into one is not limited to the visual and the literary. Ms. Bailey's piece uses the medium of glass and the genres of prose and illustration to fuse and blend divergent forms and ideas until it becomes impossible to tell one from another.

Atropa Mandragora takes its name from a plant that has featured prominently in folklore for centuries. Harry Potter fans will not be surprised to read the roots of the mandrake plant resemble human bodies. While the form of the mandragora root does not resemble humans as literally as the plants described in Ms. Rowling's books, there is an undeniable resemblance between humans and mandrake roots. While, certainly, the mandrake/mandragora offers up paths into creation stories and the weirder bits and pieces of folklore, it also draws our attention to the idea of multiplicity--the idea that one thing can be many and vice versa. In addition to being both plantlike and human in form, the mandrake has acquired a reputation for being everything from an aphrodisiac to an hallucinogenic capable of inducing a coma. Quite a powerful plant, don't you think? The hallucinogenic properties, in addition to summoning up images of the psychedelic sixties, reveal the mandrake's status as a symbol of multiplicity. When hallucinating, one can mistake any ordinary object for an infinite number of other people, places, and things. Indeed, given the mandrake's reality-bending powers, it isn't hard to understand how many of the legends surrounding the plant came to be. Simply ingesting a mandrake root can cause a person to lose touch with reality and enter a state of...*ahem*...expanded consciousness--or, as the look and book people might say, a new way of receiving ideas.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

In Depth: Empire

Arden Bendler Browning, Empire, 2010, Gouache and flashe
on Tyvek, Courtesy of the Artist
The world is becoming more and more like a computer--or is it the other way around? With the rising popularity of internet maps that allow a person to virtually "walk" through an area that could be as close as two feet away or as far as half a world away, the lines between reality and virtual reality are blurring at record speed. In its turn, technology has left an indelible mark on how we move through the world. As we walk along a street, it is possible to check one's workplace, one's home, and any number of virtual spaces. Our consciousness is not unlike the window of an internet browser that contains many open tabs. In such a world their is an infinite potential for expanding one's consciousness. Simply put, we see and are capable of seeing more than we were even as little as ten years ago. At the same time, we overlook certain details; certain treasured moments that can only be enjoyed when one's is fully immersed in one's immediate surroundings. It is this balancing act of consciousness that Arden Bendler Browning explores in her painting Empire.

The word "empire" usually brings to mind a powerful political state that is comprised of a variety of smaller territories. This description, however, can be applied to anything from a county to a country. Empires have a little something extra that makes them stick out from all of the other political  units. That something extra is usually a reputation for conquering neighboring political states and the existence of an all-powerful emperor. Browning's decision to name this piece Empire, then, is an interesting commentary on what it means to be conscious of one's environment. There is an implication that the very act of experiencing or seeing an environment--to codify and identify individual elements--is an act of conquest.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

In Depth: Sluts and Studs

Nava Atlas, Sluts and Studs, 2008, Clothbound flag book
with pigmented inkjet pages, Edition of five, 14" x 32" (open)

It seems that the subversive spirit of the book mushrooms has taken root here at Artistic Novelty. Or, at the very least, it has spread to other books in The Book: A Contemporary View. In contrast to the broad spectrum of subversion to which the book mushrooms are relevant, however, Nava Atlas's flag book Sluts and Studs specifically confronts its readers with the markedly different words and dialogues that have come to define men's sexuality and women's sexuality in western culture. This confrontation causes us to question the validity of each group of terms and the extent to which they are a balanced representation of sex among the sexes. It becomes clear, and rather quickly, that said discourses aren't very balanced or fair at all. While this point will not be new to anyone who has ever been a part of any social scene, Atlas's presentation of the subject gives her viewers the opportunity to examine just how much--or how little--progress has been made in closing the ideological gap between discussions about male and female sexuality since it first appeared.

The book unfolds to reveal a pop-up grid of words in blue, words in hot pink, pictures in hot pink, and pictures in blue. Give yourself ten points if you can guess which color goes with the men and which color goes with the women. The pictures themselves are from the early-to-middle twentieth century, the times of screen idols and planes decorated with pin-up girls. While it isn't clear where the pictures of the men originally appeared, it's a fair bet that the women's pictures were originally used as pin-ups. On the inside of the front and back covers the words on the grid, still in their representative colors, are accompanied by their dictionary definitions. Words relating to women alternate with words relating to men. Troublingly, words with negative connotations alternate with words with positive connotations. Can you guess which words are positive and which are negative? I thought so. Give yourself ten more points.

The pictures, after you've read the words and definitions, are troubling. Each of the men is shown from somewhere in the vicinity of the collar bone and up. There isn't anything particularly sexual about these depictions unless one counts a glint in an eye here and there. If anything, the expression of these mens' faces is self-assured and confident. Despite the lack of sexuality in the pictures, they are paired with words that identify them as sexual beings. The women, in contrast, are shown from the waist or the breasts up, sport elaborate coiffures that are in just enough disarray, and wear, well, very little. These images are meant to be alluring and, though the women in them are often confident and self-assured, their confidence isn't really the point of these pictures.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Panoramic View: Perforations

Bonnie Crawford Kotula, Perforations, 2011, electrical
circuitry, wood, mixed media, Site-specific installation for
the DCCA.
Perhaps it's the darkness.
Perhaps it's the pulsing lights.
Perhaps it's the lure of trying to figure out what prom dress that balled up piece of tulle came from.

Whatever it is, there's no denying that there's something fascinating about Bonnie Crawford Kotula's installation, Perforations. Kotula has transformed the DCCA's E. Avery Draper Showcase into a slice of the galaxy as seen through her eyes. Miniature sculptures that are reminiscent of satellites hang from the ceiling by threads that have been rendered invisible by low lighting. Pulsing light emitting diodes ( or LEDs) on the sculptures illuminate pieces of tulle and other bits and pieces that have also been suspended from the ceiling by thin strings.

These basic elements combine to form something riveting. The play of light on the suspended objects is hypnotic, especially given that the rate at which the lights pulse changes depending upon ambient light levels. Because each light is suspended by a string, all it takes is for a viewer to walk by to completely redirect the light. Even the viewer's position in the gallery can completely alter the system of pulsing lights.

There is an interesting push and pull at work between the viewer and the art work. Usually, art affects the viewer. In this installation, however, the art and the viewer affect each other. We are made aware, as viewers, of how our attention and contemplation can change an object. The changes in the lights' pulsations are a visual manifestation of the attention we give to the work. In this way, Kotula has made the abstract concept of attention into observable phenomenon.

Given this interaction, it may be fair to say that the fascination of Perforations lies in the opportunity to become aware of the processes at work in our own minds.  Kotula has acknowledged her belief in the long-lived idea that light can be equated with knowledge. In her installation, various lights affect and change each other, creating something new in the process. This process acts as a microcosm of how we move through the world and how neural pathways are formed in our mind. Each new experience--or change in illumination--alters how we think and how we interpret the world around us.

It is the fascination and wonder behind this process that transforms stray pieces of tulle into a riveting piece of art reminiscent of celestial bodies. Because the installation will never be exactly the same one moment as it was another, the piece represents infinite possibility as it exists on a human and celestial scale.

Friday, February 4, 2011

A Special Event: Art on the Town

It's that time again, art fans.

Tonight marks the first "Art on the Town" event of 2011 and, in case that isn't enough to get you excited, it's also the launch of the DCCA's revised membership program. To celebrate the latter, the DCCA is giving Art Loop attendees a $5 discount and a free DCCA tee with every purchase or renewal of membership. The discount will only be offered tonight, so be sure to stop by the membership table and join up! We'll be the people shivering and smiling just inside the door.

In addition to our swanky revised membership program launch, the DCCA will have so many artists here discussing art, form, and color that you'll swear you've caught synesthesia. Jennilie Brewser, Jeffrey Stockbridge, Ted Carey, Roase Reeder, and Amee Pollack will all be here to talk about their work. Of course, there's always the possibility that they'll talk about each other's work, too, which can go two ways... The potential for monumental human drama is almost too much to bear!

If all of the above isn't enough to convince you to come out and join us, I'll offer one final incentive:

We have candy.


Monday, January 31, 2011

In Depth: (S)Edition

Melissa Jay Craig, (S)Edition, 2010, Handmade abaca paper,
Processed by the artist
The book-mushrooms have infiltrated the blog! Run for your lives!

Putting aside the tongue-in-cheek tone of my over-the-top references to Melissa Jay Craig's (S)Edition, the transcribed panic above may not be too far removed from the message the artist meant to convey with her fearsome book mushrooms. If you find this statement difficult to believe, feast your eyes on the following definition of "sedition":

si • dish • uhn -- noun 1.  incitement of discontent of rebellion against a government; 2. any action, esp. in speech or writing, prompting such discontent or rebellion 3. archaic rebellious disorder.

I don't know about you, dear reader, but I have a new favorite word.

By creating paper mushrooms that take the shape of books growing from the walls, Craig plays with the seedy side of knowledge and its tendency to grow and reproduce in the shadowy corners of society. Mushrooms, for those of you whose parents aren't crazy biologists who are fanatical about fungi, grow and thrive best in  dark, moist locations like the underside of a tree root or--in a more off-putting yet relevant scenario, in a dark basement. By fusing books forms with those of mushrooms, Craig brings to mind such dark, secluded spots and the kind of information that is produced in such locales. There is an element of danger to these ideas, for the implication is that they would not be able to form in the open air of public (or government) scrutiny.

Panoramic View: We Are Our Stuff: Seeing from Above

Jennilie Brewster, We Are Our Stuff: Seeing From Above,
2011, Donated and collected miscellaneous household
materials, Site specific installation at the DCCA
Jennilie Brewstwer's installation, We Are Our Stuff: Seeing From Above, looks a little bit like the set of the musical Cats (or my desk on an average day). Crumpled up pieces of paper have been attached to the walls, books are nailed to support beams, and more than a few pieces of random detritus have been thrown together to create a chaotic, textured mass of an installation. At first glance, dear reader, it really does all look like a bunch of garbage.

The difference between the stage set and Ms. Brewster's installation (along with the absence of cat-suited actors) is that, once you look a little closer, you realize that the "stuff" on the walls isn't garbage at all. Instead, it's all the trappings of a life fully lived. Or rather, of two lives fully lived.

DCCA Curator Susan Isaacs writes: "Viewers stand in the midst of this microcosm contemplating their place in the world and the complexity of a life caught between mundane objects and the power and majesty of nature." Brewster certainly does weave a complex tapestry of the mundane and the sublime, a combination that is always sure to leave an impact on any observer. However, though this sense of shared awe allows the viewer to connect with the artist, it also has the potential to overshadow the loosely woven narrative that ties the exhibition together. Interestingly enough it is, perhaps, the reverse of this effect that seems to have pulled apart the two protagonists of said narrative.

Friday, January 21, 2011

A Special Event: Free Iassen Ghiuselev Lecture

Hello there, art enthusiasts. There's an interesting event on the horizon. I thought you ought to know about it since all the other cool people are going.

Award-winning Bulgarian illustrator Iassen Ghiuselev will be giving a free  lecture in the Wings Auditorium at the DCCA tomorrow at 2:00 pm. The lecture will be co-hosted by the Delaware College of Art and Design (DCAD) and should prove to be an interesting hour or so. Mr. Ghiuselev will talk about his work and, more broadly, the field of illustration itself.

For those of you who haven't been paying attention to the Bulgarian illustration scene, Ghiuselev is known for his imaginative (and beautiful) illustrations of children's classics such as Pinocchio and Alice in Wonderland. That's right, Tim Burton fans, I'm looking at you!

After the lecture, feel free to roam around the DCCA galleries.

For more information about the DCCA, the lecture, and/or directions, visit our website .

Friday, January 14, 2011

In Depth: 19th and Catherine No. 1

Jeffrey Stockbridge, 19th and Catherine No. 1, 2008,
Archival Pigment Print
The DCCA's new (-ish, since I'm playing catch up today) exhibition, Philadelphia, features the urban photography of artist Jeffrey Stockbridge. Stockbridge's exhibition juxtaposes dilapidated architectural spaces in Philadelphia with their inhabitants.  Though Stockbridge strives to portray his subjects as survivors of economic circumstance rather than its victim, the  photos that have been selected for the DCCA's exhibition evoke a sense of disappointment and helplessness. Disenfranchised individuals stare into space dejectedly or into the viewers eyes with a spiteful challenge. Wallpaper curls and peals away from walls. Dust, dirt, and the detritus of drug and alcohol habits litter the floor. Each image is a harsh, poignant portrayal of poverty.

One of the most striking images is of a vacant room; one wall of which has been papered over with a picture of a tropical beach. Soft oranges and blues contrast with the darkened silhouette of a palm tree in the beach scene. In the picture, the sun is setting over a calm sea. The landscape seems to glow with warm, comforting light. The illusionistic light in the beach scene is in sharp contrast with the natural light that filters through a dirty window on the extreme right of the image. This harsher light picks up color in the decaying room: a blue closet, the warm beige of masking tape that has been used to cover a crack in the ceiling, the graying pink paint of a doorway. All of these colors also appear in the beach scene; it is this detail that makes 19th and Catherine No. 1 such a striking image.

The contrast between the lifestyle to which the inhabitant of this space seemed to aspire and the reality of the individual's daily life is heart-rending. Whoever lived in the space went to the trouble (and expense) of matching the color of the interior of their woefully small closet and their door frames to the colors in the beach scene. This initial attempt to bring cheer into a small, room fades in comparison to the demoralizing condition of the walls, windows, ceilings, and floors. Whoever lived there may have wanted the warmth and relaxation that comes from living in a tropical paradise. The daily realities of their life in this decaying and dirty room could not be further from that idyllic lifestyle.

Stockbridge's talent lies in composing poignant and powerful photographs from the simples of elements. Whether he photographs an empty room or an individual, the viewer can not help but feel overwhelmed by his work. His ability to find common ground between his subjects and his audience ( in this work for example, the common ground might be a longing for the tropics) while simultaneously evoking a distinct set of experiences is awe inspiring. 19th and Catherine No. 1 is no exception.


"In Depth" is a series of posts dedicated to taking a closer look at (and maybe completely misinterpreting) individual pieces exhibited by the DCCA. If you would like to nominate a piece at the DCCA for an "In Depth" feature, feel free to write a comment and let me know!

"Philadelphia" is being exhibited in the Dupont II gallery at the DCCA. The Exhibition will run through May 8, 2011.

Panoramic View: THE BOOK: A Contemporary View

Melissa Jay Craig, (S)Edition, 2007-2009, Homemade
abaca paper, processed by the artist, 18" x 16" x 18"
The jumping around continues!

The DCCA's first foray into exhibiting books arts, THE BOOK: A Contemporary view, opened on December 23rd and  has been enjoying positive reviews and steady attendance. You may remember me promising to report back to you about the show. I'd say it's time for me to deliver.

First, I should say that there is quite a bit to say about THE BOOK. The reason that my verbal cup is sure to runneth over is simply that the show is gigantic. The works of 47 book artists have been brought together to create an incredibly diverse exhibition that has something for everyone. From codices to scrolls to book-shaped mushrooms (yes, dear reader, the rumors about the fearsome book-mushrooms were true), the gallery is packed with delightful art books that are sure to catch your eye.

Though I'm an avid bibliophile, I have to confess that this show is the first time I've seen books displayed as art objects rather than sources of information and entertainment. Seeing books behind glass cases (or growing from the walls) took me aback for a moment; but then I started thinking about what books mean to our society. I've always thought of books--even rare ones--as a very democratic method of distributing knowledge. Their meaning doesn't change too drastically if they're reprinted, they can be passed around from person to person and social class to to social class, and (with the exception of tomes on the scale of the Oxford English Dictionary) they can be transported fairly easily.

Works in Progress: We Are Our Stuff

Jennilie Brewster, A Room of One's Own (detail),
2009, Houspaint, collage, local discarded
materials, 8' x 10' x 28'
Greetings, dear readers. It's been a while and we have a lot to catch up on. Instead of taking the logical route and telling you about things in the order that they happened, I'm going to be my rash and danger-loving self and tell you about something that hasn't happened yet.

That something, dear readers, is the completion of Jennilie Brewster's new exhibition at the DCCA, We Are Our Stuff: Seeing From Above. The exhibition technically opens today, but there's much left to do. Ms. Brewster is installing the entire piece on the spot, taking inspiration (and materials!) from the DCCA itself. I've seen the work in progress (shameless plug of this post series intentional), and it really is something to behold. The exhibition is in the former home on In Canon, and couldn't be more different than its predecessor. Random objects, paper, wood, and--for lack a better word--junk have been attached to the walls of the Dupont I gallery and seem to climb up the walls, creating a visual feast.

This may seem positively unthinkable to say about a work of art,  but it's actually rather fun.

It's a good thing, too. This Sunday, from 12-3, our hard-working Curator of Education will be presiding over a special Free Family Program inspired by We Are Our Stuff. That means that anywhere from 75 to 300 young children will be spending time in the gallery and engaging with the art (did I mention that the program is free? You should consider dropping by!). This Free Family Program is an especially exciting event, because the work the children and their parents will do will become a part of the exhibition itself.

Despite We Are Our Stuff's radical difference from In Canon, there's still continuity, after a fashion. In Canon dealt closely with contemporary artists' reactions to older artistic techniques and motifs.  Ms. Brewster's exhibit literally places the work of other writers and artists on to the walls, incorporating them in her own installation.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. It's a little early yet for an analysis of the work, since it's unfinished. It should be a treat to see what Ms. Brewster and the Free Family Day participants (and, perhaps, you, dear reader) come up with.

"We Are Our Stuff: Seeing From Above" will be finished and open to public viewing on January 18th, 2011. 

For more information about the DCCA's Free Family Programs, go here .