In December 2010, Culturehall published the first New Artists Feature Issue highlighting the work of four selected applicants. Culturehall has 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.
Texas native Casey James Wilson explores the alchemical states between sublimation and actualization. His subjects are anti-subjects constructed through the interplay of analog and digital photographic means. Detritus transitions from a role of incidental remnant to materializing as the foundation for formal compositions. Banal details captured from unrecognizable landscapes define a space from which elemental manipulation repositions an absence of meaning to subject. Wilson's Drought Edit combines these two modes of production. Stemming from the historically dry weather that gripped much of the United States during the summer of 2012, the representational subject of this work was captured from the banks of a Texas lake reclaimed by drought. Repositioned through a selective use of the image plane, the photographic content of this work is pressed to reconcile itself with the created frame. Additional manipulations to the revised content framework underscore the abstraction and release of the representational subject.
Heather M. O'Brien is a Los Angeles-based artist whose work asks pointed questions about social and political issues in the United States. Her research project and multi-media installation, hope that you enjoy the show, contrasts prison tourism with stark realities within the American penal system by specifically focusing on touristic display and spectacle at the Louisiana State Penitentiary. Commonly known as Angola Prison, the nation's largest maximum-security prison is located on the site of a 19th century slave plantation. O'Brien presents videos, photographs, artifacts, and text to dismantle what she perceives as a deceptive façade calculated by the prison's management through its displays and public events, including the popular rodeo and craft fair, to conceal the prison's darker history and present conditions. Her evidence — particularly concerning the alarming percentage of African-Americans incarcerated at Angola Prison, the majority of them serving life sentences and others waiting on Louisiana's death row - dramatically challenges this veneer of prison culture by demonstrating Angola's persisting legacy of violence, racism, and exploitation.
Sarah J. Tortora approaches sculpture through a sensibility that requires the viewer to consider her works not solely as objects, but as equals. Through representation and construction, each combines the intangible with concrete symbols. Tortora's sculptures almost antagonistically ground themselves in the scale of human form — selectively presenting hints towards architecture, furniture, or industrial design. Utilizing an array of substances with their own inherent content, Tortora often mingles raw materials - such as wood and steel - with glossy, ambiguously colored matter. One of her recent works, Redress, sets forward a cipher that pulls from our surroundings. Six feet tall and intensely orange, this vague obelisk simultaneously attaches itself to us as a physical peer while maintaining a distance through color and an apparent lack of function. Part mirror and part doppelganger, Redress asks us to reconsider our own physicality and that of our surroundings.
Goseong Choi's series of monochromatic photographs were shot in Meji, a rural village in Wonju, South Korea. These somber, elegant images - like a winter poem - reveal the subtle beauty of a desolate winter landscape. While the contrasts of light and darkness create a seductive visual texture in each image, part of what is so mysterious and even surreal about these pictures is an ambiguity surrounding what time of day they were made. Winter branches, thin reeds, and delicate blades of straw appear as though masterfully painted or drawn - frozen and still, and simultaneously, full of movement and energy. Some of these natural scenes are foreboding, like a dark forest at night, while others are serene and so visceral that one can almost feel the frost and breathe the sharp, cold air. Nothing is alive, and yet to be present in these moments is to be aware of our senses and our interiors. In Choi's words, "The images of agitated scenes soaked into myself and resonated. The strokes of straw slashed my mind. It hurt, so I took them."
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, the Big Screen Plaza, and numberthirtyfive gallery.
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, Ramapo College, and the College of Staten Island, and taught a photography workshop at Toxico Cultura in Mexico City. She also writes a blog about photography, PalmAire, and contributes writing to various arts publications. In 2010, she was awarded an AOL 25 for 25 Grant for innovation in the arts.