Joshua Francis Beaver works with storytelling and universe construction. He explodes the particles constructing his world view. He wants to see them better. Then he re-arranges them into absurd grand narratives to poke and prod; to re-evaluate. He wants to ask questions with them. Like, how would your personal cosmology change if you never stopped growing and eventually became the size of your universe? And what if a man-made lake was like a child at the bottom of a family tree that included angels, bureaucrats, and Pennsylvania energy industries? And what about a story whose main character was never born and didn't get a body but is still a main character? He is not interested in answers; rather, he is searching for moments of meditation.
Beaver's current developing body of work is asking roughly: what is a person? What and where are all of its parts? What makes up personality? Can it be located? Who gets to say what it is? And what about its authenticity? What is authenticity and how can it be measured? Can it? The body as an individual container for the soul or for the identity is an illusion. Beaver currently uses puppet animation, paper cutting, miniatures, music and video to stage the grand narratives. He is always trying to find new ways to make and visualize. He wants to immerse and disorient his audience, but he does not want to trap them.
Lindsay Buchman’s practice explores positions of instability through works on paper, installation, artist books, photography, and writing. Captivated by collective experience, she investigates interpersonal relationships while pivoting between text and image. Buchman is primarily focused on the implication of memory, and the dissonance between language and communication. Recent projects include: the role of the archive, public memory, and private history.
Laura Carlson is a painter, situation maker and performance artist. Carlson’s research considers sexually oriented businesses and corporeal discomfort and how they inform a dialogue on the commodification of the body as well as revealing issues of erotic autonomy, anxiety, and agency. Her intuitive narratives, coupled with her obsessive inquiries into systems of oppression, construct an artificial environment that reconsiders existing social relationships regarding consumerist attitudes towards women and the spatial discomfort of built environments. (Adapted from: http://femmesfollesnebraska.tumblr.com/post/90255559402/laura-carlson-artist).
Danielle Cartier's work metabolizes the visual immediacy which characterizes the realm of advertising but also a portion of the contemporary art market. Extracting forms and colors from the chaotic commercial landscapes of American magazines, Cartier's work exposes the complex relationship between the graphic appeal and the meaning of images. Blending the technique of collage and the medium of painting, she tears apart and reconstructs the message of "found" visual material, uncovering the primordial appetite which images trigger in human beings. Whether inspired by advertisements, signs, tattoos, or medieval crests, Cartier engages with the timeless captivation of images, investigating the ancestral origins of symbols with a sparkling contemporary approach.
Gwen Comings received a BFA in painting and drawing from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design in 2009. They currently work in sculpture and installation, with an interest in domestic interior spaces, the way people build space around themselves, and the arrangement of objects in those spaces. Comings' work is deeply informed by the experience of growing up below the poverty line in rural Minnesota, in a home with no electricity, water, nor phone. The way they explore space particularly reverberates the way people, in spite of economic hardship, build and decorate the intimate space of their home, often sacrificing functionality for affordability. They provide as an example a kitchen counter made of oriented strand board, a non-waterproof material which is usually used for cheap sub-flooring. The materials and the functional displacements at the basis of such choices reappear in Comings' work, in a way that links the memory of their childhood house to the complex relation between an object's function, its shape and materiality, and ultimately the social status attributed to it by a certain community. Further, Comings' personal experience of the tensions between purpose and decoration in a context marked by the signs of class exposes the uncanny quality of objects that fall just short of function and the sadness and severity evoked by the simplicity of their forms.
Sharla Dyess’ work addresses absurd comparisons between her own appearance and images encountered in the media and in the commercial sphere. Responding to post-feminist artistic trends, Dyess insists on discussing the relation between the representations of femininity and identity, both embracing and revolting against gendered discourses. Highlighting the concreteness of stereotypes, she shapes surreal figures whose representational status appears more tangible than their identities.
Casey Egner is an interdisciplinary artist from Portland, Oregon. He received his MFA at the University of Pennsylvania and his BFA from the Pacific Northwest College of Arts. Casey’s work revolves around the possibilities of and fluidity of the term “drawing” and spans across a variety of mediums. In the past he has used repetitive gestures to create drawings which result in emergent patterns, but he is currently investigating the relationship between drawing, sculpture, and installation and how each venture informs and relates to the other. Currently, Egner is investigating different perceptions of forms in space through modes of drawing. These range from works on paper to explorations of athleticism within drawing. Utilizing drawing as a tactic for visualizing installations in a three dimensional space, his current work results in an investigation of forms, symbols and signs. In this way, it becomes almost a type of language with a potential to create meaning or a perceived logic within the work.
Aimee Gilmore works with tactile tensions, exploring how the oppositions of pressure and release, contraction and expansion, control and vulnerability manifest in relation to the human body. Through a primordial dialogue with the materials she handles, Gilmore investigates notions of containment, of boundaries, and of detachment. As markers of space and time, the material aspects of the body which Gilmore explores reveal that the relationships between beings are constantly renegotiated not only psychologically, but also physically.
Jeremy Jirsa was born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1992. He graduated from the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) with a BFA in General Fine Arts and a minor in Art History in 2014 and a MA in Teaching from MICA in 2015. He received his MFA from the University of Pennsylvania in 2017. His work has been exhibited across Baltimore and in multiple group shows across MICA’s campus as well as in several group shows during his Honors semester at the Studio Arts Center International in Florence, Italy. In 2000 he was diagnosed with Tourettes Syndrome and OCD. Contrasting by nature, the two diagnoses have placed him in a constant struggle between order and chaos. Growing up with such ailments, he experienced the feelings of being trapped within his own body, of losing control upon himself, and of trying to hide from Others some aspects about himself. His work has become an exploration of such internal mental spaces, where he creates a sense of psychological dimension and an atmosphere of isolation by depicting minimal interiors. Through a limited subject matter he is able to erect interiors that project the open yet claustrophobic spaces of the constructed subconscious. These, in turn, stimulate ideas of loss, psychological turmoil, the exploration of seclusion and the emotive qualities of paint.
Lesia Mokrycke is completing a combined Master of Fine Art and Master of Landscape Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania. Her practice includes both large-scale public projects as well as more intimate drawings, paintings and sculptures as part of a multi-media studio practice. Mokrycke's work addresses time and movement as elements that knit together the social, political and environmental aspects of a place . Her work often utilizes sound, light and water as the principle elements of culture, underscoring issues of identity. Through the lens of landscape architecture and contemporary art, Mockrycke's practice frames relationships between culture, place and the landscape. More recently, her artistic and design work investigates methods for visualizing underground territories, and examines what potential outcomes emerge from interaction between political boundaries and open systems.
Asha Sheshadri (b. 1986) is a multimedia artist working out of Philadelphia, PA. She is interested in the infinite network of threads between emotion, soundscape, ethnography, biography, archive, and secret history. Most recently, she was an affiliated fellow at the American Academy in Rome and completed her MFA at the University of Pennsylvania.
Alex Snowden understands identity as a skin which, like the snake's, mutates and decays. By juxtaposing repetitive patterns, unstable materials, and folkloristic clichés, Snowden explores the meaning of belonging not only in relation to narratives of nationality, but also with respect to memory. Investigating how political rhetoric and one's recollections do not mirror but rather construct an incoherent picture of identity, Snowden concretizes in her work the absurdity of defining people in definitive terms.
Rebecca Tennenbaum’s sculptures are bound to the phenomenon of energy and the many forms it takes as it transfers between natural and artificial worlds. By extrapolating her works from the inner structure of electrical appliances, she creates self-contained systems which communicate a sense of transference and containment of energy. Tennenbaum juxtaposes sculptural units in a way which evokes invisible magnetic links, evoking a self-perpetuating movement. In spite of relying on physical contact, she achieves this subtle balance between void and power by constructing implied actions between different objects.
Kasey Toomey’s work has to do with objects and the spatial and phenomenological ordering of our environment. Toomey approaches sculpture as a model to relate objects which are not present, exploring the gap between belief and disbelief which characterizes all representations, and most notably contemporary art. He addresses this issue both by shaping sculptures with the materials of consumerist culture, and by interacting with them through his own body. In these ways, Toomey re-injects a ritualistic dimension in our environment, sardonically providing an answer to his own question: “Where has the magic gone?”.
Jiwon Woo’s work is informed by the interconnection of scientific innovation, new technologies, and cultural expression in art and design. Woo underscores the idea that in our contemporary reality the notions of nature and culture seem to blend, as their traditional difference is becoming blurred if not meaningless. Through the media of photography, film, and installation, Woo proposes Bio Design and Bio Art as more appropriate vehicles to express the values and problems posed by the globalised, technologically saturated 21st century.