September 24th, 2010 to January 3rd, 2011
Throughout the first and second floor galleries the Philadelphia Art Alliance (PAA) will present The Sitting Room: Four Studies, an exhibition that will incorporate newly commissioned works with a post-disciplinary approach to the expanding definition of the term “craft” to create four separate but interrelated installations based on the historical concept of the sitting room. All exhibitions are organized by Melissa Caldwell, Director of Exhibitions at the PAA.
An opening reception will be held on September 24 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
The exhibition takes three factors into consideration. First, this exhibition considers Victorian concepts of the parlor room. The sitting room (also termed the parlor room or the drawing room) was a prominent feature of domestic architecture until the early 20th century and served as a public reception space within a private setting. As the site of public social interaction, it was meant to exhibit or display the home in its most refined state. As such, the sitting room acted as a performance space for the social presentation and the self-imposed definition of its inhabitants. In this framework, the sitting room as a site for private display parallels the purpose of the PAA as a site for public display. Secondly, the projects consider the position of craft within contemporary art. The recent resurgence in scholarship posits craft as an expanding concept that transcends boundaries based on medium, function, or empty aesthetic pleasure. The term now incorporates many other fields of creativity as well as new technologies, reinforcing a post-disciplinary approach beyond the restriction of a single medium, and a connection of the crafted object to the fine arts, interior design, architecture, new media, performing art, and pop culture. Third, the theme of the exhibition is predicated upon the history of the building as a residence. The Philadelphia Art Alliance (cited on the National Register of Historic Places in Philadelphia) was built as a residence in 1906 for Samuel P. Wetherill. The rigid delineation of internal space reflected the standard models of the Victorian home, and as with most mansions of the period, the first floor of the Wetherill residence contained two formal sitting rooms, a public reception room to greet guests and a parlor room for entertaining.
Despite the aesthetic differences in the work that will be commissioned for this exhibition, several overlapping themes emerge through the project proposals. As the sitting room in the Victorian area signified a place in the home with specific functions, all of the artists have chosen to interpret this for a contemporary audience by addressing several subjects from a sociological perspective: for Jennifer Angus, an alternative view of the 19th century and the mania surrounding ideas of collection and display during that period; for Carole Loeffler, the psychological implications of the domestic interior; for Ligia Bouton, the history of Victorian parlor seances; and for Saya Woolfalk, the creation of an alternative utopian space for an imagined future--using vernacular materials combined with technology--to forge alternative/mobile spaces that create ideal social communities.
Through the creation of a tripartite space, Angus examines the sitting room from several vantage points: as a private refuge and as a quasi-public space within a home, as a display context for possessions, memories, and souvenirs, as a space for memorial, and as a setting for discussions of how spaces are defined by gender. Although referencing the Victorian era and the “home” aesthetically, Angus will explore the fantastic and whimsical meanings of the domestic interior, seizing upon the contemporary collective visual imagination of 19th century society.
Angus received a B.F.A. from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, Halifax Nova Scotia and a M.F.A. from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL. She also studied at the Penland School of Crafts, Penland, North Carolina, and University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia. Angus taught and lectured throughout the United States and Canada and is currently Associate Professor of Environment, Textiles and Design, University of Wisconsin, Madison. Her work is in numerous private as well as public collections, including: American Craft Museum, New York, NY, Hachioji City, Tokyo, Japan, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ottawa, Canada, The Library and Gallery, Cambridge, Ontario, and The Museum for Textiles, Toronto, Ontario.
For the exhibition Loeffler will present an installation entitled, 5 Situations: to conflict and coalesce. This will include five small circular rooms within the gallery space. The walls will be made out of fabric that is Victorian inspired hung on a circular frame with individual flooring. In each room there will be a set of upholstered chairs. Each set of chairs will create a feeling that occurs in a formal reception space. The placement of the chairs is meant to dictate the different feelings and emotions a living room creates and to reinforce various feelings, such as separation, isolation, tension and awkwardness.
For example, in one room, two chairs will be upholstered together back to back. The vertical backs of the chairs will be one unit. Another room will have two chairs upholstered together to sit side by side, and yet two others will be created as circles facing inward and outward. In addition, each room will also include a multi-layered sound piece that involves verbs that begin with the letter c. The subtle sound element is meant to reinforce the range of feelings in each room or "situation”.
Loeffler received her M.F.A. from University of South Florida in Tampa. Previously, she taught and directed the Foundations program at Southern Illinois University Carbondale in the School of Art and Design. She is currently teaching and coordinating the Foundations program at Arcadia University. Recent solo exhibitions include: “Conglomeration, Three Rivers Community College,” Norwich, CT (2009); Fringed, Full, Furry and Fuzzy, Art Gallery, Eastern Washington University, Cheney, WA (2007); infestation, Window on Broad, Rosenfeld-Wolf Galleries, Philadelphia, PA (2006); sensations & wishes, Howard Community College Gallery, Columbia, MD (2006) Materiality: Sculpture and Installation, Resnikoff Gallery, Roxbury, MA
The installation is based on a series of films that find relevancy to all times and periods. The participants of No Place inhabit an imagined utopia through play and masquerade to reconsider ways we normally think about and represent gender, race, class, and the environment. Performers will interact with objects and wear costumes that denaturalize their bodies, and will expose how such symbols influence subjectivity from a sociological vantage point. These videos of No Place--produced with anthropologist and filmmaker Rachel Lears--will present different facets of this imagined society: its birth, death, afterlife and mourning; kinship; object exchange; war and play; collecting and memory. Viewers will watch The Ethnography of No Place in a room with brightly painted walls and props and costumes from the videos. Overall, the installation gives a view into communally imagined permutation of a space for the future.
Wookfalk received a B.A. from Brown University, Providence, RI and a M.F.A. at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL. In addition to her residency at The Studio Museum, Harlem, Woolfalk has had residencies at Yaddo, Saratoga Springs, NY (2005); Sculpture Space, Unitca, NY (2005) and the Millay Colony for the Arts, Austerlitz, NY (2004). Woolfalk has studied at the Skowhegen School of Painting and Sculpture as well as the Whitney Independent Study Program, Whitney Museum of American Art, NY. She has received a NYFA Fellowship (2007); Art Matters Grant (2007); Fulbright Grant from the Brazilian Fulbright Commission (for the study of performance and craft traditions in Latin America, 2005); and the Joan Mitchell Foundation MFA Fellowship (2005), among many others.
For The Sitting Room, Bouton turns to early documentation of Victoria parlor séances to create an installation that explores the intersections between fantasy and reality, desire and deception. As the spiritualist movement gained popular support during the mid-19th century, it was common to receive invitations to parties that included “tea and table-tilting.” These small private gatherings often included local mediums who caused furniture to vibrate and move due to what they claimed was a direction communication with spirits and ghosts. It is not surprising that these events happened in the parlor or sitting room of a private home; this room was accustomed to playing an intermediary role, as it traditionally provided a middle-ground between the privacy of the domestic setting and the larger forces of the public world.
Drawing from photographs taken during the later half of the 19th century that attempted to prove the authenticity of these spirit encounters, this installation will recreate the very real desire displayed in these images to communicate with the dead while also employing the artifice and trickery skillful mediums used to ensure this desire was fulfilled. In Tea and Tabletilting, Bouton will create several small vignettes or theatrical sets in which hand-painted wallpaper and faux architectural elements will combine with photographic cutouts of the séance participants. These figures, furniture pieces, and additional props will appear like lifesized paper doll pieces. The spirits summoned into each space will be created with sculptural elements and projected video, and their vivid color and mobility will appear, as a means of meditating on human desire, more life-like than the rest of the sepia-toned scene. Here, the artist plays the role of the original medium by constructing an experience where, (with the help of some simple technological slight-of-hand and trick-of-the-eye) the worlds of the living and the dead seemingly collide.
Ligia Bouton was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil and received a B.A., from Vassar College, and a M.F.A., Mason Gross School of the Art, Rutgers University. Bouton recently lectured at the Dialogue Among Peers, which was sponsored by Santa FE Council for the Arts and Center for Contemporary Arts, Santa Fe, NM and is currently on the faculty of the University of New Mexico. She is represented by EVO Gallery, Santa FE, NM. Recent solo exhibitions include Six Photographs of People I Don’t Know, EVO Gallery, Santa FE. NM (2007); hybrids, Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, Boulder, CO (2006); and Compound, Plan B Evolving Arts, Santa FE, NM (1999). Group exhibitions include: Biennial Southwest, Albuquerque Museum, Albuquerque, NM (2006); Embodied: Seven Studies in Video, Museum of Fine Arts, Santa Fe, NM (2005); The True Mirror, City Without Walls, Newark, NJ (2005); Subversion & Censure, EVO Gallery, Santa Fe, NM (2005); Motion, Santa Fe Art Institute, Santa Fe, NM (2005); Rocky Mountain Biennial, Museum of Contemporary Art, Fort Collins, CO (2004); Tell Me a Story of a World Without Words, City Without Walls, Newark, New Jersey (2004); Manifestations: Form and Function, Denise Bibro Fine Art, New York, NY.
Additional support provided by the Independence Foundation, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Philadelphia Cultural Fund, and Members of the PAA.
For more information about the Philadelphia Art Alliance Exhibitions Program, contact Melissa Caldwell at 215-545-4302 or email@example.com.
Gallery Hours: Tuesday through Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.