NURTUREart is pleased to present (Im)perfection, a group exhibition curated by Project Curate students of Juan Morel Campos High School with Simone Couto and featuring artists Donna Cleary, Kate Donnelly, Jude Griebel, Winnie van der Rijn, Jason Rondinelli, and Jon Verney. The exhibition investigates perfection and imperfection through six works that explore the poetics of memory, time, happiness, loss, and healing.
Jon Verney’s Birthday presents an intimate memory that appears to be unraveling. Created through a process of semi-controlled deterioration, Verney has dissolved the emulsion of a found photograph and fixed that decay mid-transformation. Despite this disruption, the fading scene of a birthday celebration hasn’t been entirely lost and the new colorful abstractions bring an aesthetic renewal to the original. Memories, a series of knit and wire sculptures by Winnie van der Rijn, evokes an amalgam of associations with eroded shells, husks, and ossified remains that have decayed with time.
“I just can’t get comfortable,” begins the protagonist of Kate Donnelly’s video (Un)settling. “Well maybe it’s the chair? Have you tried a different chair?” is the reply. With wry humor Donnelly questions seeking happiness through the pursuit of perfection. The artist, or her doll avatar, speaks of fear, trust, and what it takes to feel comfortable in an unsettling world.
In Jason Rondinelli’s Genet’s Bed, a multi-sensory installation, the artist revisits his recovery from an invasive surgery. The work reimagines his home with walls stained by salves and broken open to reveal the pipework inside. Liquid from rotting cabbages ooze down the walls and through the pipes out onto the gallery floor. Jude Griebel’s sculpture Washout is a macabre melding of a sickly human face and dioramic representation of a neighborhood in ruins—washed out in a landslide of environmental degradation. The distance from a perfect ideal calls for a need to heal and mitigate the damage.
Artist and herbalist, Donna Clearly’s sculpture Hybrid #3 combines figurative and blooming organic knitted forms. In this tribute to our holobiont selves, Clearly confirms the human body is perfectly imperfect and that we are walking ecosystems in constant negotiation with symbiotic species of bacteria and viruses living on and within us.
Transcending the binary of perfection and imperfection, these artists see, incompleteness, instability, and transformation as opportunities to find out what we choose to keep and cherish, how we cope with uncertainties to feel whole, and the negotiations we make each day to heal and build a place where we can be at ease within our surroundings and selves.
Project Curate provides a class of local high school students from Juan Morel Campos School an opportunity to experience contemporary curatorial practices by working closely with a professional curator for the entire school year, culminating with an exhibition at NURTUREart Gallery.
This collaborative process includes lessons in art history, contemporary art, conceptualizing a theme, selecting artwork, writing a curatorial statement, art handling, exhibition design and installation, writing a press release, event promotion, and hosting a public reception. Throughout this process, students meet with professionals in different facets of the arts while visiting museums, galleries, and artist studios, connecting with the thriving arts community in their own neighborhood. More importantly, Project Curate gives the students a critical voice and professional work experience, promoting leadership, responsibility, and confidence.
The 2018–2019 Project Curate team was lead by Simone Couto, a Brazilian-born and United States-based interdisciplinary artist, poet, writer, curator, and educator, working on installation format and social practice. She received an MFA from the School of Visual Arts, a BA in Creative Arts from the University of San Francisco, and studied Theater Arts at The Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Her work has been shown in the United States and internationally, including Gwacheon National Science Museum, South Korea, Argentina, Brazil; and Pioneer Works; Invisible Dog Art Center; Electronic Arts Intermix; El Museo de Los Sures; in New York. She is one of the core organizers of the yearly NYC AnarkoLab Performance Festival at Judson Memorial Church. In 2018, she was in residency at The Hafnarfjörður Centre of Culture and Fine Art, in Hafnarborg, Iceland, as well as at the Studios of MASS MoCA, where she received a grant to develop her work with the Berkshires Immigrant Community. Couto is a current resident at ISCP.
Born in Boston in 1960, Donna Cleary is a descendent of Irish Herbalists. She reclaims knowledge scrubbed from her familial consciousness after laws made it illegal to have the profession under British occupation. After working as a Registered Nurse for 13 years she left to raise two children, while studying and making art. She returned to school, taking undergraduate courses at Columbia and SVA. In 2014, she received an MFA in Fine Arts from SVA. She exhibited at Petzel Gallery, Freight and Volume, The Knockdown Center, Trestle, Chashama, Art in Odd Places in both NY and Orlando, and more. She was reviewed by Roberta Smith of the NYtimes, Hyperallergic, Rhizome, Artefuse, plus more. Residencies include MASS MoCA, Mildred’s Lane, chaNorth and Cill Rialaig in Kerry Ireland.
Through performance, installation, sculpture, sound, writing, and the moving image, Kate Donnelly examines what keeps her (and others) unsettled. At the intersection of art, feminism, and care, she use humor as a central device to explore notions of fragmentation, constructs of happiness, ageism, discomfort, and feminist and racial consciousness. Donnelly’s primary focus surrounds reproduction and the position of women in the role of caregiver. What goes missing individually and collectively when a society obscures and undervalues the experience and labor of care? What is the weight and expense of love’s labor? Her work is both a response to and comment on the human condition under pressure, under siege, unseen, unheard, undone. She received my BFA from Rhode Island School of Design and MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her current endeavors include the start up of the artist run gallery Snake House and Single Channel, A quarterly event highlighting the history, practitioners, and genres of the moving image and time based media through collaborative viewings and discussions.
Jude Griebel is a Canadian artist, working between rural Alberta and Brooklyn, New York. His sculptures collapse boundaries between body and landscape to highlight human connection to—and impact on—the surrounding world. This merging of figure and ground is inspired by an obscure sub-genre of Dutch and Italian Renaissance painting, in which anthropomorphic landscapes asserted human dominance over the natural world. His recent works update this tradition, depicting tragic figures embodying complex spaces jeopardized by industry. Griebel completed an MFA in Ceramics and Sculpture from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada in 2014, and has completed numerous residencies including MASS MoCA, North Adams, MA; the ISCP, Brooklyn, NY; HALLE 14 Center for Contemporary Art, Leipzig, Germany and the Kunstnarhuset Messen, Norway. His recent solo exhibitions include Esker Foundation, Calgary, AB; Redpath Museum, Montreal, QC and Galerie Sturm, Nuremberg, Germany. Griebel is a three-time recipient of the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation grant for emerging figurative artists and his work has been supported by major grants from the Canada Council for the Arts and the Alberta Foundation for the Arts.
Winnie van der Rijn is a multi-disciplinary artist of opportunity—collecting materials, experimenting with techniques and pursuing her curiosities. Her art practice includes textiles, sculpture, and collage. She finds beauty in the unexpected. Winnie actively exhibits her work throughout the United States. A life long learner, Winnie graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 1989 with a BA in Sociology. She has studied printmaking, sculpture, and metalsmithing. In addition, Winnie has explored weaving, machine knitting, bookmaking, altars, exploding picture boxes, automata, shoe making, millinery, sewing, fusing, stamping, metal weaving, resin, riveting, precious metal clay and mixed media. She is wildly curious about how things are made. Winnie is currently an Artist-in-Residence at the Textile Arts Center in Brooklyn.
Jason Rondinelli is an artist and educator working in Brooklyn, NY. He received his BFA From Pratt Institute in 2002 and his MFA from Hunter College, with a concentration in sculpture, in 2018. He is a candidate for the 2019 Dedalus MFA Fellowship and has received awards to attend various residencies including the Vermont Studio Center, I-Park Residency and Rockland Woods Residency. He has exhibited in several galleries in New York, including Amos Eno Gallery and has an upcoming two person exhibition at Thomas Hunter Project Space.
Jon Verney is a visual artist whose practice interweaves the materiality of painting, photography, and film. After earning a BFA with Distinction in Painting from Massachusetts College of Art and Design in 2010, he relocated to Florence, Italy, where he worked for two years as a TA and darkroom technician at Studio Art CollegeInternational. Upon returning to the United States, he received his MFA from theStamps School of Art & Design at the University of Michigan in 2016. There, he received numerous grants from the University to fund his creative research into redeveloping silver-based photographs in geothermal springs in the Yellowstone Caldera, Iceland, and the Salton Sea in California. Verney has exhibited his work nationally and internationally and has attended artist residencies at the Vermont Studio Center, the Studios at MASS MoCA, Penland School of Craft, and the Independent Imaging Retreat in Ontario, Canada. His studio practice is based in North Adams, Massachusetts.
Image 1: Jon Verney, The Birthday Party, 2019. Archival pigment print, 42 x 43 inches.
Image 2: Jude Griebel, Washout, 2015. Resin, wood, plastics, oil paint, 11 x 14.5 x 5 inches.