with without words

I can’t pretend to be anything less than a big fan of Snowflake on Cherokee Street. Good shows organized by good people.

Formerly Snowflake/Citystock, David and Bevin Early started the space a few years back to showcase art/design/furniture.  As time has passed, there’s been less furniture and more art but the basic aesthetic has stayed the same- clean, minimal and modern. While Snowflake is a gallery, it’s less about art fairs and more about local community. When invited to contribute to the Contemporary Art Museum’s project room a few years back, they organized Snowflakes Cares- a fully function work out space for artists to get healthy at the CAM. And lest you think they only care about bodies, there’s a Snowflake book club to nourish minds. They provide an example of what a huge impact a small-scale operation can have; St. Louis wouldn’t be the same without them.

w/w/o rds, Snowflake’s offering during SGCI holds true to their vision. Curated by Leslie Mutchler, the show focuses on artists using a range of media from traditional letterpress to digital output. The common ground between works is the often-temporal use of language in combination with the printed image. Artists include some Printeresting favorites: Abra Ancliffe (Portland, OR), Tate Foley (St.  Louis, MO), Jimmy Luu (Urbana-Champaign, IL), Sonnenzimmer (Chicago, IL) and Emily Sullivan (Akron, OH).

Text from Mutchler’s Curatorial Statement…

In our ever-increasing communicative society, words have, surprisingly enough, become lesscarefully considered, less-studied and perhaps even less important. In a culture where simplified word formations, from LOL to WTF, act as replicated emotions and thoughts, it becomes necessary to study the implications of what words actually mean. The four artists and one artist
collective represented in the exhibition w/ w/o rds all experiment with the power of words and phrasing within their printed works. In a society where few ponder the meaning and substance of words, these artists struggle with word structure and notions of translation just as much as with image-making.

Sonnenzimmer (Art & Print studio of Nick Butcher and Nadine Nakanishi) explores the use of meaningful words, communicative and functional phrases, as they use print and text to promote bands, concerts and events. With the careful use of color, abstract shape, pattern and texture, their work sits at the precipice of fine art and design- posters that are all at once functional objects and beautiful pieces of art.

Emily Sullivan contemplates the power and existence of glossy, consumer-driven text. Definitive color (branded and sold by Pantone) is the fodder for her abstract and systematic compositions. Pantone Colors for Home and Fashion plays with the luscious and sometimes humorous description of color. From Linen to Turf, Beeswax to Peapod, Sullivan experiments with how these colors can define and simultaneously mock our idea of space and home.

Tate Foley’s Clairvoyance series works with found imagery, scraping away information in a performative attempt to reveal poignant and concise ideas relating to the imagery at hand. The use of text combines an interest in language and design- both thought-provoking and superfluous; it conjures up contrasting feelings of nostalgia and absence, abundance and relevance.

Abra Ancliffe methodically examines the use and interpretation of her native language (English) through the often confusing and foreign lcelandic language. Prompted by a residency in Seysðisfjörður Iceland, Ancliffe was confronted with nightly reruns of American dramas and sitcoms reinterpreted into the Icelandic language. Ancliffe systematically captured both imagery and textural information from these television shows, rendering the once translated English into Icelandic and back to English again. Her work continues to build on this concept through the American to Icelandic Dictionary, built on word translations from our “cultures‘ exported entertainment.” What’s most intriguing about these pieces are not what’s there- but what is lost in translation from onereading to the next.

Jimmy Luu gathers, consumes and responds to the fragmented words now bombarding our tech-savvy, communication-crazed society. Luu’s The Office of Printed Ephemera culls language from texts to tweets to Facebook updates, exploring the immediacy and temporality of these types oftextual constructions through letterpress printing and a sleek contemporary design aesthetic.

Go, Jimmy Luu! CV w/QR code! Just in case you want to grab his info with your mobile phone- nice!

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Categories: Exhibitions

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