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With For And Against
Joe Bartram, Meg Foley, Jesse Harrod, Matt Kalasky, Kirk McCarthy, Tiona McClodden, Chad States, Julia Staples, Suzanne Seesman
June 5 - 28, 2015
With For And Against

Vox Populi is pleased to present With For And Against, the group exhibition debut of the artists who joined Vox in 2014: Joe Bartram, Meg Foley, Jesse Harrod, Matt Kalasky, Kirk McCarthy, Tiona McClodden, Chad States, Julia Staples, and Suzanne Seesman.

With For And Against is a collection of discrete presentations of the work of these nine artists. Joe Bartram’s collage and installation extends his examination of how a populous builds a relationship with its environment, acquiring and utilizing goods and services. Meg Foley will present a series of performances during the opening reception and across the duration of the exhibition that look at emerging choreographic forms derived from the suggestive, relational textures between bodies and environments. Jesse Harrod’s sculptures integrate subtle accents such as strap-on harnesses, cock rings, and fetish ornamentals in order to infuse their seemingly organic forms with prosthetics of queer sexual practices. Matt Kalasky presents the wall mural My heart is hard as hard as rocks | Twas built upon 10,000 years of cocks | And atop these peckers I shall remain | Unseen, obscene, and in decay, 2015. Kirk McCarthy’s installation is an experimental combination of objects, materials, and speculative associations that engages our sense of how reality is potentially altered through proprioception and sensory intelligence. Tiona McClodden presents a collection of objects and a newly created time-based work that explores liminal space within initiation and rites of passage rituals, expanding her Be Alarmed: The Black Americana Epic film series. Chad States’ works romanticize ideas of queerness while creating mythos around the marginalized spaces they inhabit. Julia Staples will show photographic works that examine the ways fantasy and desire ultimately rely on the association of truth with visual reality. Using the language of spiritual counter-culture and symbols of religion, nature and domesticity, her work seeks to reveal the narrow boundaries between the visible and the fantastic. Suzanne Seesman’s work considers the materials and imagery that make up our fantasies about 20th century intellectualism. …A Place Where Nothing Ever Happens takes the form of preparations for a fictional lecture on the correspondence between legendary Frankfurt School intellectuals Theodor W. Adorno and Herbert Marcuse.

About the artists:

Joe Bartram is an artist working in Philadelphia. He received his BFA in sculpture from the University of Akron in 2012. Bartram is interested in how societies are affected by consumerism, mass production and the ways in which a population acquires and utilizes goods and services. He seeks to examine how a populous builds a relationship with its environment and what values are placed on cultural aesthetics concerned with how societal identities and methodologies from ancient times correlate with interests and ambitions of the contemporary experience.

Meg Foley is a dance artist: performer, choreographer, and educator. An improviser and a queer person, her practice seeks and proposes a more pliable sense of self. It explores the 24hr body, tracking our identities and emotional experiences to a physical core, placing the experiential act at the center. Working from physical actualities and body?based research, she has developed an improvisational practice, action is primary, over the past four years where all aspects of the body become material: movement, voice, location, emotion, relationship, attention, and representation. Foley has presented work and taught in dance and interdisciplinary performance spaces across the US, Canada, and Poland. She holds a BA in Dance from Scripps College and a Professional Diploma from Laban Centre London. She teaches at University of the Arts and is the creative co-director of The Whole Shebang in South Philly.

Foley will present a series of performances during the opening reception and across the duration of the exhibition that look at emerging choreographic forms derived from the suggestive, relational textures between bodies and environment. Based in improvisational practice and scoring around immediate and responsive making, the performances act as discrete, material identities in relation to the environment and those watching, including leaving remnants of each performance to accumulate over the course of the exhibition. The choreographic form ­ as altered and altering content ­ comes from the collision of the formal realities of the performance construct with the performers’ shape shifting interior experiences and
decision­making. The performers practice agency as they navigate intentional relationships that are alive to the present moment and beholden to a larger, potentially arbitrary structure; what is the experiential and choreographic consequence of that? There will be two durational performances: June 5 6-­10pm and June 7 1­-5pm, and two hour long performances: June 20 7pm and June 21 at 2pm. Performers: Drew Kaiser, Jung­eun Kim, aka J.e., and Annie Wilson.

Jesse Harrod has an MFA in Fiber and Material Studies from SAIC and a BFA from the NSCADU. She is currently the Head of Fibers & Material Studies at Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia. By creating both large and mid-scale installations out of vernacular and lowbrow materials conventionally associated with hobby crafts and domesticity, Harrod explores craft as a shadow category of art production to mainstream fine art. Foregrounding questions of gender, queerness, and their intersections, Harrod’s work tracks the affective and cultural circulation of meaning through which particular materials become designated as “trash.” Across her practice, Harrod shows how these discarded materials can be re-purposed on behalf of insurgent imaginations of queer-feminist survival. Harrod has exhibited at the AU Museum in Washington, DC, La Esquina, KC, MO, the Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art in NYC, Kohler Art Center in Sheboygan, WI and is included in forthcoming exhibitions at The Decker Gallery at MICA in Baltimore, MD, and the Boston Center for the Arts. She has been awarded residencies at the Vermont Studio Center, Ox-bow, and RAIR Philly. Her work has appeared in The Journal of Modern Craft, Artslant, and Hyperallergic.

Harrod on her work: “These sculptures integrate subtle accents such as strap­on harnesses, cock rings, and fetish ornamentals in order to infuse their seemingly organic forms with prosthetics of queer sexual practices. With this suite of part-­objects, appendages, and bodily forms, I intend to bring into close proximity human and non-human forms, unsettling these distinctions by highlighting the blur between the natural(ized) body, on the one hand, and queer bodily prostheses and sexual technologies, on the other. It is my hope that the unconventional and overlapping shapes of my suspended and emergent forms suggest alternative ways of being – or hanging – in space.”

Matt Kalasky is a designer, critic and arts organizer living in Philadelphia. He received his MFA from the Tyler School of Art in 2011. DAYTIME: He is the Education and Public Engagement Coordinator at The Galleries at Moore College of Art & Design. NIGHTTIME: He is the current Co-Director at The St.Claire–an online publication and arts organization based in Philadelphia. ALL THE TIME: With Mike Treffehn he is I am the One Who Knocks–Philadelphia’s second best leftist lecture-onica soul-cialist rock slow dance romance re-appropriation Human-Mic jam band.

Author Culprit Liar Pulpit

My heart is hard as hard as rocks
Twas built upon 10,000 years of cocks
And atop these peckers I shall remain
Unseen, obscene, and in decay

Kirk McCarthy is a mixed media sculptor with a BFA in Ceramics from the California College of the Arts, an MFA in Ceramics from the Rhode Island School of Design, an MFA in Sculpture from the University of Washington, and a MID from the University of the Arts. Selected exhibitions include “Hybrid Vigor,” Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, Texas; “Postmark; An Abstract Effect,” SITE Santa Fe, N.M.; “Flux,” Philadelphia Art Alliance; “Kirk McCarthy,” Inman Gallery, Houston, Texas; “Crazy Beautiful,” Kenise Barnes Fine Art, Larchimont, N.Y.; “The Authentic Visual Voice,” Rutgers University, Camden, N.J.; “Morph: Meta(Morph)osis and Bio(Morph)ism in Contemporary Sculpture,” Blue Star Art Space, San Antonio, Texas; “Simple Things,” Arlington Museum of Art, Arlington, Texas.

McCarthy’s work strives to provide a contemplative haptic experience that suggests or evokes the processes and shifts in consciousness that can occur as one encounters the world in unexpected ways. The mundane and the sublime rub up against each other in constant flux. Experimental combinations of objects, materials, and speculative associations engage our sense of how reality is potentially altered through proprioception and sensory intelligence.

Tiona McClodden is a filmmaker and video artist, whose work explores narrative within social change, social realism, re-memory, and more recently, biomythography.

“My work explores shared ideas, values, and beliefs within the African Diaspora, or what I call, “Black mentifact”. I’m interested in Blackness and nostalgia; and how the past, present, and future can intersect visually and thematically within time based work. I’m invested in exploring intersubjectivity within Black communities as a tool for creating insider perspectives within film, time based works, and objects.”

Tiona McClodden presents a collection of objects and a newly created time based work that explores liminal space within initiation and rites of passage rituals. This work expands her Be Alarmed: The Black Americana Epic film series, following the presentation of Movement I-­The Visions in 2014, and now moving into the creation of Movement III­-The Deities. Be Alarmed is conceptual epic film, sound, and visual artwork rooted in McClodden’s personal biography, and themes that relate to the greater Black American experience. The film is comprised of four parts (or movements), each with a set of trailers and scenes that will, at its completion, function as the overall film. However, there is no full linear film, just trailers, scenes, narrative objects, and film stills that provide insight to the overall narrative arc of the “film.”

Chad States makes work that romanticizes ideas of queerness while creating a mythos around the marginalized spaces they inhabit. By inserting queer issues and aesthetics into a contemporary art context States creates dialogs between cultures and challenge the notions of belonging, representation, narrative, personal and public, gay and beyond.

States holds an MFA from Tyler School of Art and a BA from Evergreen State College. His work has been exhibited at venues including ClampArt, New York NY; Blue Sky Gallery, Portland OR; Randall Scott Gallery, Brooklyn NY; Greg Kucera Gallery, Seattle, WA; FLUXSPACE, Philadelphia, PA; and Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts, Wilmington, DE. His book Cruising was published in the fall of 2011 by Powerhouse Books which short listed as one of the best new photobooks in 2012 by Aperture Foundation and Paris Photo. He was an Artist in Residence at the Philadelphia Photographic Arts Center in 2013 as well as with Light Work in 2009.

Julia Staples is a Philadelphia based artist. She was a recipient of the J. William Fulbright and American Scandinavian Foundation Fellowship, enabling her to do research in Iceland where she first began exploring ideas of class, economy, and the fantasies of modern life. Through living, working and teaching in North Philadelphia, she is working on a public art project, involving documenting the stories and histories of people in the Fairhill community around the Lillian Marrero Library through books and photographs–the project is supported by the Knight Foundation and the Free Library of Philadelphia. She has exhibited her work locally as well as in Iceland, Spain, NYC and LA; she has been awarded residencies at Ox-Bow, The Vermont Studio Center and Polli Talu in Estonia. In Philadelphia she works as an adjunct processor, teaching courses in photography, studio practice and photo history. Staples holds an MFA from Tyler School of Art and her BFA from Parsons School of Design.

“Fallen fantasies, grasping for lust and desire, fabricated rituals hanging on thin threads of reverie—my work involves a continued examination of common fantasies and the myths that propagate them. Capitalizing on the purported realism that photography offers, I examine the ways fantasy and desire ultimately often rely on the association of truth with visual reality, while seeking to reveal the narrow boundaries between the visible and the fantastic. One aspect I currently focus on in my studio practice is the Philadelphian Aristocratic culture and its encounter with ‘60s counterculture. Out of this discord comes a plurality from which we can examine modern day conflicts — one where both gaining wealth and reaching a higher consciousness become improbable fantasies. Conceptually treading the line between commonly accepted truths and obscure beliefs, methodically attempting to create an abstracted reality. I seek to create work that details and contextualizes a hitherto hidden history of our collective fantasies.
My studio practice has for long been dedicated to the understanding of fantastical declarations and ways and systems of belief like those offered by religion, spirituality, healing methodologies and political ideologies. My exploration lies on the margins between sweeping enlightenment and lingering fantasy, a sort of autonomous in-­between area that ultimately serves to deconstruct the binary notion of truth and fantasy.”

Susanne Seesman is a Philadelphia based artist and writer. Her past experiences working in education, labor rights, cooperative organizing, and the service industry, have a significant influence on her writing, thinking, and making. She holds a BFA in Sculpture from Ohio University and an MFA from Tyler School of Art. In 2014 she received both the Cloud Artist Prize and The Ilya and Emilia Kabakov Fellowship in recognition and support of her work. This summer, she will be an artist in residence at The International Ceramics Studio (ICS) in Kecskemet, Hungary. When she is not discussing rhetoric or visual culture with students at Temple University, she can be found on Girard waiting tables, in her studio at 9th and Dauphin, or at her Huntingdon home working on her next contribution to the Nicola Midnight St. Claire.

Suzanne’s work relies on sculptural and performative methods for thinking through the ideas and idealisms of the past. Intellectual, political, and social movements are memorialized, criticized, and interrogated in her drawings, sculptures, videos and performances. Her most recent projects look at the materials and imagery that make the fantasies of prominent 20th century Intellectuals. The work on view in the new members show takes the form of materials for a fictional lecture on the correspondence between the legendary Frankfurt School intellectuals Theodor W. Adorno and Herbert Marcuse. In other recent work, she looks closely at the appearance of lesser recognized anarchist­-feminist figures such as Luisa Capetillo, Federica Montseny, and Vera Zasulich and attempts to recognize their significance in the history of radical politics, refigure their presence, and reimagine the radical figure according to their attire.

Gallery Talk led by Vox Populi members: