For their entry to the Select art fair, Tiger Strikes Asteroid will present a group exhibition of artists that make their own art materials or have unique art-making practices. The artists, Alexis Granwell, Becca Lowry, Robbie McDonald, and Jennie Shanker, have all embraced practices that explore materiality in a personal and methodical manner, and have sought to create sustainability by forging a distinct aesthetic. This approach complements Tiger Strikes Asteroid’s DIY nature, as the artist-run gallery model allows each respective collective to curate, cultivate, and champion art that they admire.
It should be noted that visual artists making things from scratch is truly a rarity among contemporary practices. From the mid 19th century on, painters have been alleviated the task of making their own paint. Duchamp’s introduction of the ready-made was revelatory in the early 20th century, but by the end of that century, using ready-mades, appropriation, and a post-studio production were all common practices. Taking the considerable time to develop materials and methodology is seemingly antithetical to art making and its dissemination in the Information Age.
The drawing and sculpture of Alexis Granwell is a prime example. She makes her own paper for her work, transforming the material from what is commonly a neutral substrate to an active constituent asserting its physicality to rival the steel structure of her sculpture. Departing from the language of architecture while rejecting the romanticization of ruin, Granwell’s direct handling of raw material and allowance of incidental scratches and marks on the work surface is intended to serve as a metaphor for the imperfect nature of memory.
Becca Lowry intricately carves the wooden surfaces of her work that alternate between painting and sculpture. After building a handmade surface that recalls Papuan gope boards, Lowry’s strenuous paint applications are complimented with wire, collage, and upholstery. While the carved marks and intense color may signal aggressiveness to the viewer, the artist thinks of her work more as talismans or shields.
Robbie McDonald takes the ubiquity of sound and makes it material and physical in his practice. McDonald’s process requires him to make field recordings that he then transcribes into objects. Sound, a constant accompaniment to visual experience, is etched as lines into a format not dissimilar to an LP record. They are presented in mirrored framed boxes, almost preserved like a future artifact.
Imbued with polarizing political discourse, the Marcellus shale Jennie Shanker uses to make her sculptures may appear anodyne to the uninformed viewer. Situated on the border of New York and Pennsylvania, The Marcellus Formation is the site of gas extraction through controversial hydraulic fracturing (also known as “fracking”). Shanker collected the shale through a natural outcropping of rock and tested its properties for glazing and kiln firing. The results of her experiments are the small sculptures exhibited in TSA’s booth, notable for their variety of color and texture.
Established in Philadelphia in 2009, Tiger Strikes Asteroid (TSA) is a network of artist-run spaces with locations also in New York City and Los Angeles. Each space is independently operated and focuses on presenting a varied program of emerging and mid-career artists. The network’s goal is to collectively bring people together, expand connections and build community through artist-initiated exhibitions and curatorial opportunities.
In addition to the work of the four exhibiting artists, TSA New York will have its flat file work available for viewing. Also available, TSA LA has produced Welcome to the Playhouse, a series of collaborative prints depicting fantastic studio/museum designs using Pee Wee’s Playhouse as their role model.