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Mike Calway-Fagen
Hell and High Water
February 4 - 27, 2011

We live in a state of fear. We are scared of ourselves and each other; the good intentions of passersby; unexpected occurrences, both natural and man-made; killer bees and shark attacks; hope and defiance; the future and the past. Granted (or wrested) dominion over the earth, the sea, the sky and their inhabitants, we have been at best errant and inattentive, at worst downright dangerous. We worry we will have to pay for our negligence and our hubris, one way or another. We wonder when our debt will be due, and how much we will owe.

It is in this context that Mike Calway-Fagen works. Simultaneously deeply critical and heartbreakingly hopeful, he asks us to connect: to each other, to our surroundings, to our actions, to him. Perhaps greater connection will allay our fears and atone for our transgressions; if not, we need not be so completely alienated. Though aware that humanity has likely consigned itself and its environment to an inevitable unravelling and final dissolution, Calway-Fagen is neither cynical nor pessimistic. Often, his work is hopeful and idealistic in its criticism: we are complacent, scared and blind, but we can be better. It hinges on the overlaps and (dis)continuities between various realms of existence– animal and human, natural and artificial, permanent and ephemeral, sacred and profane– showing their mutability and lack of fixity.

In Hell and High Water Calway-Fagen brings together a body of work created over the past few years in locations across the United States. Ranging from large-scale sculpture to documentation of a Southern countryside intervention, intimate installation and suites of objects, his work draws on the forgotten and pushed aside. Utilizing found and recycled materials such as walking sticks, blankets and fabric, roof shingles, and an unclaimed taxidermied german shepherd, his is a decidedly recombinant, low-tech, and do-it-yourself aesthetic. In tandem with a conceptual and intellectual rigor, Calway-Fagen produces work that is unabashedly both harsh and tender. Unbowed by either the plenitude or the injustice of existence, he brings forth both, asking us to see it all with clear eyes and soft hearts, and without fear.
-Rujeko Hockley

Calway-Fagen holds a BFA in Sculpture from the University of Tennessee and has shown widely, including solo exhibitions at Possible Projects (Brooklyn, NY), The Carnegie (Cincinnati, OH), and Good Citizen (St. Louis, MO).