Join us for an ARTtrek to Emerson Dorsch for a special artist-led preview of new works by Michael Jones McKean and Cara Despain.
Michael Jones McKean: we float above to spit and sing
In Michael Jones McKean’s sculptures and installations, effigies and representations of natural objects and contemporary technology cohabitate in a narrative system of vignettes, that together function as a meditation on our relationship to objects. His wall boxes, in which elegantly crafted representations levitate in fields of softly-hued light, are situated where the screen and museum display meet ancient narrative sculpture traditions. Under McKean’s keenly historical eye the objects he employs experience a flattening of classification. This flattening exposes an unstable relationship between objects and our shared realities, so that associations can be exchanged indiscriminately from a provocative index of forms.
Considered in a broader archaeological sense, Michael’s practice can be defined by a labored contemplation on the ontology of objects. we float above to spit and sing vacillates between a proclivity for fetishizing and an object-oriented shadow world freed from human associations. A place, the artist notes, “where objects, when they choose to visit us, do so with all their unknowable intelligence and perverse strangeness intact.” His disembodied heads and limbs thus act as placeholders- timeless and out of context - denoting a corporeal, mind-dependent, anthropocentric alternative.
Many of the more exotic materials in the exhibition are embedded, encased, or embalmed inside of representations of other objects. In this type of hoodoo, where objects can contaminate other objects, power is rooted in provenance. Their back-stories provide access to anima or spirit voice. A selection of materials in we float above to spit and sing includes: wood, paint, stainless steel, wigs, prosthetic silicon, makeup, bristle cone pine wood, brass, marine resin, medical arm cast, cell phones, jewelry, clothing, dried Himalayan wild flowers, ancient pottery shards, SeaMarker rescue dye, gem stones, mineral fragments, global meteorite fragments, fabric swatches from ethnographic blankets, coral, vitamins, Adderall and morphine.
A project by Cara Despain: Cast Set
In Cast Set, Cara Despain layers sound, animation, and sculpture to approximate the experience of place in time. Exploiting tropes of the American West that are embedded in our collective psyche, the work conveys a doubling of mythos that is nostalgic, eerie, and dimly familiar. Despain’s identity as a native Utahn is evident in her practice, motivating both conceptual and material choices. In Cast Set she constructs a world that at once embodies the type of optimism associated with the new frontier, and the loss that colors its inevitable settlement. She uses concrete, salt, and fools gold (pyrite ore) to reference the reconfiguring of land for mining, the promise of gold that conflates with a promise of salvation and religious freedom, and the certain disappointment of false hope.