Process and Product: Feeding a Hunger
By Tom Wachunas
“Instead of just looking at the finished product, I want people to have a look at the process…I selected artists where you can see the specific building blocks better.” -exhibit curator Michele Waalkes, from an article by Dan Kane for The Canton Repository
EXHIBIT: Parts to the Whole – works by Jacques P. Jackson, Liz Maugans, Jennifer Omaitz, and Stephen Tornero – curated by Michele Waalkes / at The Hub Art Factory, 336 Sixth Street NW, downtown Canton, THROUGH August 28, 2020 / viewing hours on Tuesdays 7p.m. to 9p.m., or by appointment – contact email firstname.lastname@example.org / (330) 451-6823
Canton Repository article:
"Hi" Split, by Jacques P. Jackson The Sash, by Jacques P. Jackson Miami Beach House, by Jennifer Omaitz Forced, by Jennifer Omaitz GLOW, by Stephen Tornero Fruit Punch, by Stephen Tornero Apathy Parade: Mediocrity, by Liz Maugans
Lately I’ve been starving. As in greatly missing what was once a lively art gallery scene in downtown Canton. While that scene was already experiencing a slow but sure diminishing long before the pall of COVID19 settled on us, the pandemic has only made matters worse in terms of regularly accessing what few art venues remain. In any case, THANK YOU to The Hub Art Factory for continuing to provide some aesthetic nourishment. My only regret is the lateness of this post, and for that I sincerely apologize.
The artists in this eclectic gathering have provided written statements regarding the conceptual thrust and/or process involved in the making of their pieces, and in a few instances, framed shadowboxes containing samples of their raw working materials.
Jacques Jackson makes his charming mosaics with various sorts of glass glued to plywood substrates. He’s interested in fashion design among other things, and often inserts bits of patterned fabric behind the glass shapes. The contours of the mosaics are cut to suggest figures with softly curving torsos, as if moving in an exotic dance.
The mixed-media assemblages by Jennifer Omaitz, at once dense and airy, are examinations of stacked architectural structures. She tells us in her statement that they’re inspired by architects who “…address space constraints, refocusing the design of living environment to create a sense of community and reduce the environmental footprint.” From this theoretical starting point, Omaitz’s constructions further explore “…questions surrounding climate change, and post-modern architecture, modular architecture, and psychological spaces.” Complex conditions indeed, these are intriguing maquettes – models of buildings precariously balanced or teetering in midair, and seemingly on the verge of tipping over.
The hand-woven linen yarn weavings by Stephen Tornero are exquisitely crafted, shimmering abstractions that might be transparent organisms or perhaps shifting landscapes. “I am inspired by the colors I find in nature,” he says in his statement, “and how they interact with artificial colors of electric light.” His mesmerizing pieces are a dynamic tour-de-force of myriad threads that seem to breathe through undulating hues and patterns.
Liz Maugans’ “Apathy Parade” series of wood intaglio relief prints is her response to the extreme sociopolitical divisiveness that emerged during the 2016 elections, and which has certainly become even more intense these days. The banner-toting “people” in her images have been reduced to anonymous pixelated blurs – clusters of amorphous Ben-Day dots. What exactly they’re supporting or protesting isn’t all that clear either. Maugans explains the words on their signs this way: “…I lifted rants and responses from social media debates where people were clearly not doing their own research and co-opting others’ arguments that don’t stand up to credibility…”
Maugan’s images are – pardon the pun – arresting and timely. They make me wonder about the identity of American society. Who are we really, and where are we going? Maybe we need to be concerned with a pandemic of another sort – the kind that has blurred us into a viral meme culture, entrenched in the scene-and-herd mentality of the social media masses.