In December 2010, Culturehall published our first New Artists Feature Issue highlighting the work of four selected applicants. We have since opened applications each season, receiving submissions from artists around the world. Juried by the two of us, David Andrew Frey and Tema Stauffer, we continue to be impressed and excited by the remarkable talent and range of our applicants and the global interest in Culturehall.
Recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship in 2009 and the Julia Margaret Cameron Award in 2010, documentary photographer Livia Corona works out of New York and Mexico City. Her current project, Two Million Homes for Mexico City, examines the rapid growth of mass-scale neighborhood developments in Mexico since 2000. Corona combines broad panoramic images of the housing complexes whose monotonous sprawl engulfs the landscape with closer investigations of domestic environments and their occupants. The latter photographs look at how individuals and families exist within these cheaply constructed, homogenous spaces, in some cases humanizing them with furniture and personal decor. In one photograph, three men lean and gaze in unison from windows in vertically stacked cubicles as if simultaneously longing for escape; in another, a couple waves from the roof of a tawdry castle across an expanse of excavated dirt. Corona's images of new developments in the contemporary landscape collectively measure the dream of home ownership against the stark reality of the affordable housing designed for Mexico's working-class population.
Using yarn, recycled materials, personal photographs, and utilitarian objects, Mandy Cano Villalobos creates installations that speak of mortality, memory, transformation, and the passage of time. Her curious and elegant sculptural piece, Undone, displays brightly colored balls of yarn in a painted wooden cabinet. Each ball of yarn represents an article of clothing unraveled by the artist and labeled with its original form, such as someone's sweater or glove. Villalobos reinvents these worn possessions into a playful visual metaphor for the mutability of the essence and function of familiar, everyday things. Other projects create memorial narratives about locations, such as a privately owned farm in the American South and a river community destroyed by a hurricane, through shrine-like installations that combine images with relics such as jars, tools, and furniture. Her more politically charged piece, Vigil/Vigilia, also uses the motif of family photographs hung in a cross above a television playing segments of campaign messages during the 1988 presidential election, commenting on the experiences of Chileans during the 17-year military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.
Taking inspiration from the grandness of what lies beyond us as individuals, Justin Gainan often integrates the physicality of our surroundings into a constantly reducing minimalism. Motivated by essential elements and the expression of time, he moves between forms and formats. Utilizing a practice that cycles between sculpture, photography, drawing, and performance, he leverages each mode to furnish inspiration forward to the next movement. Often working at a glacial pace, his practice is countered with moments of nearly instant production. One of the earliest groups of work from this method is a pair of nighttime photographs. Exploring the vastness of the environment, Terrible's what it is., the first work of the set, was part of a creative process requiring more than 400 exposures. Reactionary in its conception — this rigor spawned Behind a Hill, which was taken almost as a snapshot, reversing the viewer to a vantage point opposite the initial subject.
Elliott Wright brings a sense of casualness to the structural rigidity that roots his work. Segmented in their composition, his sculptures speak more to arrangement than integration by presenting each physical substance in near isolation. Wright pursues the membrane between what is tangible and what is projected through the experimental use of materials and process. His work, Two and One Column, brings together a disparate assortment of concrete, waxes, and a two-way mirror. As a catalyst, Wright activates a space between what is fixed and ephemeral, making, if only for a moment, columns of poured rock ghostly. A partner to this work, Janus, stands watch, simultaneously looking out and back. Each of its faces reflecting and absorbing, having been produced from a serial casting of plaster, Mylar, and black iron oxide.
David Andrew Frey is a New York-based artist, curator, and technologist. He founded Culturehall in 2008 as a new way for artists to connect with curators, gallerists, collectors, and other artists. David received an MFA in Studio Art from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2000. He has also studied at the Camberwell College of Art in London, the Hochschule der Künste in Berlin, The University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, and the Savannah College of Art and Design. He recently curated exhibitions in New York of work by Culturehall artists for Ligne Roset and the Big Screen Plaza.
Tema Stauffer is a photographer, writer, and curator. She graduated from Oberlin College in 1995 and received an MFA in photography from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1998. Her work has been exhibited at Jen Bekman Gallery and Daniel Cooney Gallery in New York, as well as galleries and institutions nationally and internationally. She teaches at the ICP and Ramapo College, and taught a photography workshop at Toxico Cultura in Mexico City. She also writes a blog about photography, PalmAire, and contributes to Mana Contemporary's Log. In 2010, she was awarded an AOL 25 for 25 Grant for innovation in the arts.