Jessi Reaves: All possessive lusts dispelled
Jessi Reaves combines iconic modernist design with an irreverent aesthetic in sculpture that toys with functionality. Reaves often begins with found furniture, which she dismantles, converts, remakes, enhances, pads, and embellishes in ways that still allow the suggestion of physical contact or use. By breaking things open, she proposes that they be examined visually and in terms of their purpose in life. The exhibition at The Arts Club of Chicago centers on the work Personal Heat, 2021, a deconstructed étagère with accompanying video that explores themes of renovation and rebellion. The sculptural aspect features a pop punk aesthetic of hot pink animal stripes, as if Reaves had been locked in a room in her great aunt’s house with a can of paint, a saw, and some wood glue. The funk and humor of this work and other of Reaves’s sculptures and wall reliefs belie a mastery of complex composition, color, and the ability to integrate disparate materials. Reaves brings to her seemingly off-handed works a range of manual skills that she uses to both humorous and unsettling effect. Jessi Reaves: all possessive lusts dispelled offers a sensuous installation of works that allow the abject to infiltrate the ontology of the object.
Jessi Reaves (b. 1986, Portland, Oregon) earned her BFA from Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, in 2009 Reaves’s solo exhibitions include Going Out in Style, Herald St, London (2019); Jessi Reaves II, Bridget Donahue, New York (2019); Kitchen Arrangement, a site-specific commission for The Domestic Plane: New Perspectives on Tabletop Art Objects, the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, Connecticut (2018); android stroll, Herald St, London (2017); Jessi Reaves, Bridget Donahue, New York (2016); and Now Showing: Jessi Reaves, SculptureCenter, Long Island City, New York (2016). Recent group exhibitions include Slant Step Forward, Verge Center for the Arts, Sacramento, California (2019); Carnegie International, 57th Edition, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh (2018); Ginny Casey and Jessi Reaves, Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia (2017); Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2017); and Looking Back, the eleventh White Columns Annual, White Columns, New York (2017), among others.
Image: A sample of the truth, 2022, wood, metal, cord, sawdust, wood glue, paper, enamel paint.
Image courtesy of the artist and Bridget Donahue Gallery. Photo by Greg Carideo.
There was a time when Chicago’s Magnificent Mile was underwater, a time before settlers had filled in the lake to make land for these buildings. There was a time further back when this land of the Anishinaabe people, including the Chicago area, was flooded by a great deluge. At that time, Earthdivers – specifically the muskrat – dove into the water to retrieve some mud to repair the earth. All things dredged may be temporary. It is possible and within imagination that the land in this place, the place of the Arts Club of Chicago, may once again be held by the original people or pulled back into the water. The Waves May Break Here Still is a printed mural of a painting by the same title that celebrates the potential impermanence of the human built environment.
Andrea Carlson (b. 1979) is a visual artist currently living in Chicago, Illinois. Through painting and drawing, Carlson cites entangled cultural narratives and institutional authority relating to objects based on the merit of possession and display. Her work has been acquired by institutions such as the British Museum, the Minneapolis Institute of Art, The Walker Art Museum, The Whitney Museum of American Art, and the National Gallery of Canada. Carlson is a 2008 McKnight Fellow, a recipient of the 2017 Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters and Sculptors award, a 2020 Artadia award, and a 2022 United States Artists Fellow. Along with several artists based in Chicago, Carlson helped form the Center for Native Futures.
(Image: Exit by Andrea Carlson, 2018. Screenprint, Highpoint Center for Printmaking Editions.)