Anissa Mack: Junk Kaleidoscope

September 13 – December 9, 2018
Spruance Gallery

Read Philadelphia Inquirer review. Link to the artist's site.

Arcadia Exhibitions is pleased to present "Anissa Mack: Junk Kaleidoscope" from September 13 through December 9, 2018 in the Spruance Gallery. The artist will give a lecture on September 13, 2018 at 6:30 PM in the University Commons Great Room. An opening reception will be held immediately afterward in the gallery. Light refreshments will be served. Both events are free and open to the public.

"Junk Kaleidoscope" is the second iteration of an ongoing project, the initial version of which was presented at The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in 2017, curated by Amy Smith-Stewart. The title refers to the way in which Mack reshuffles current and past works in response to memory, place, and the conditions of presentation, as Smith-Stewart has written, “mirroring the journeys traveled by small scale objects within our homes”.  Central to Mack’s work is the activity of acquiring, displaying and repurposing domestic items and the stories that cling to them. 

Mack’s turn of her kaleidoscope for Arcadia reprises a sculptural project from 2009, (first presented at Laurel Gitlen Gallery, New York), that appropriated leg mannequins modeling jeggings.  Mack first noticed these customized forms in the storefronts of her Brooklyn neighborhood and was struck by the way their contours suggested those of the gold figures guarding the canopic jars holding the mummified organs of Tutankhamen. Positioned in the center of the gallery, this procession of sculptures (Gemini I, II, and III) is flanked by 14 wall-mounted pieces (2016-18), originally presented at The Aldrich but this time staged in a setting prompted by Mack’s recollection of two iconic works from the Philadelphia Museum of Art, both of which she encountered as a graduate student at Tyler School of Art in the mid-1990s.    

The first of these, Charles Willson Peale's Staircase Group (1795), with its persuasive architectural trompe l’oeil, informs a new installation made for the exhibition involving a life-scale photographic replica of a painted door, also found by Mack and adapted from a previous project.  To this portal Mack has added a peephole inspired by Marcel Duchamp’s Étant donnés (1946-1966), which serves as a metaphor for the tunnel vision that her hybrid works elicit from their viewers as they attempt to discern what precisely it is they are looking at and how each was made.  This forensic attention to detail is critical to Mack’s singular means of production in which any one medium may readily mask another or any object that appears to be “found” might actually be painstakingly crafted or deceptively transformed by the artist. 

The resulting interplay of elements within the gallery evokes the ambiance of a secular chapel, complete with its altar and reliquaries, and incites a condition that conflates making, thinking, and seeing.  Grounded in generative invention and   experimentation, each work embodies particular forms of disclosure and withholding that activate curiosity and rewire assumptions despite the apparent familiarity of household materials and techniques applied.  Mack has stated that her “way of understanding things is to make things”.   This understanding, grounded in the vernacular and quotidian, in turn, as suggested by curator and craft theorist Glenn Adamson, becomes tantamount to a form of compassion. 

About the Artist

Anissa Mack is an artist based in Brooklyn, New York. In the last decade she has presented solo exhibitions at The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum (Ridgefield, Connecticut); Laurel Gitlen Gallery (New York); Josh Lilley Gallery (London); Santa Barbara Contemporary Art Museum, and The Contemporary (Atlanta). Her work has been included in group exhibitions at Brennan & Griffin (New York), 67 Ludlow (New York), Fleisher/Ollman (Philadelphia), and the Seattle Art Museum, among many others. She has also created commissioned public projects for the Public Art Fund (Brooklyn), Wave Hill (The Bronx), the Queens Museum, and Socrates Sculpture Park (Queens).  She received her MFA in Sculpture from Tyler School of Art, and her BA from Wesleyan University.

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