Artificers

Ripley Whiteside & Kerry Kolenut

Local Artist Gallery:  Jennifer Bockleman

April 3 - 26, 2015

All three artists, Ripley Whiteside, Kerry Kolenut and Jennifer Bockelman are artificers in some fashion.  An artificer is someone who is a skilled craftsperson and often clever in devising ways of making things.  Whiteside is a skilled painter, Kolenut a skilled photographer and Bockelman a skilled embroiderer.  Additionally, Whiteside examines how we translate landscape and nature and experience it in artifice and Kolenut examines how suburbia imposes its own logic. 

Ripley Whiteside lives and works in Montreal and received his BFA at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and MFA from State University of New York at Buffalo.  He creates small-scale paintings that both detail and abstract the natural landscape. Whiteside states:  I am interested in what should or should not be considered natural, and the complex absurdities that can emerge from this line of questioning. Definitions of nature include “the physical universe”, “the countryside”, “the phenomena of the physical world collectively, including plants, animals, the landscape, and other features and products of the earth, as opposed to humans or human creations,” etc.

A second meaning expresses nature as something inherent to a thing, an elemental and distinguishing quality of a given thing’s character. In his “Lecture on Something,” John Cage synthesizes the definitions: he describes the nature of nature as, “the accepting of what comes without preconceived ideas of what will happen and regardless of the consequences.”  This opens nature up to possible definitions that I find important, ones that make it necessary to understand aspects of nature as anomaly, as the consistency of inconsistency, as the fear, joy, and boredom we experience in artifice; that see nature as the seed of fiction.

These works were born in the complicated corners of nature’s meanings, in the places where we attempt to insinuate ourselves within the natural or insist on our separateness from it; where we take what is natural and in so transform it into artifice; where we fear the natural and unnatural alike, and where we temper those fears with stories.

Kerry Kolenut was born in New Jersey.  She received her MFA in Photography from Tyler School of Art, Temple University in 2009 and her BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2006. Kerry has been teaching photography and digital art in various undergraduate programs in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and China. Drawing inspiration from where she grew up, her work is photo based and focuses on themes relating to identities, structures, and memories within different types of communities.

In her latest photography series, Rearview, Kolenut examines how suburbia imposes it’s own logic. 

Kolenut states:  We function and exist in our day-to-day lives as a part of multiple communities. Often our everyday life becomes so familiar that we do not take notice of the activities that we participate in and the structural environment around us, or question the role that they have in our lives.  The routine of driving is one common activity in communities. As a driver you are constantly attentive to what is happening around you, trying to get somewhere and predicting the moves of other drivers. What happens when there is a break in that awareness? Still stuck in the car, in a seat, I am looking at what is happening when we are stopped at a light or in traffic. Do we just sit and stare ahead, have a conversation, or see what is happening around us? I am documenting what is happening in my rearview mirror, looking at the actions occurring behind my car while I am waiting.

Jennifer Bockelman was born in North Carolina but grew up in Idaho. She received an MFA in sculpture from the University of Colorado, Boulder in 2009 and teaches at undergraduate institutions in Nebraska and Oregon. She creates both situations and objects exploring themes of inherited and constructed Mid-western identity and the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves.

Sometimes as a child, when Bockelman would ask her mother to be “the helper,” she’d instead give the job of being “the watcher.” Bockelman's work in Oh lord, not another piece of word art both watches and helps; it's a simultaneously sincere and snarky commentary on word art as well as her own methods and motivations for creating art.