Print + Sound + Systems

John C. Kelly, Dan Hall, Sam King, Abigail Lucien, Elysia Mann

About the Exhibition:

In the late 1960s, artists began reacting against the Modernist notion of traditional mediums and object-based art. During this time some artists began experimenting with methods in which to “de-materialize” art in an effort to produce work that was less fixed and static and more responsive to the individual viewer. This experimental process of generating artwork not as a discrete object, but as a product of “system thinking,” is considered the precursor to what we now call systems art.

Its origins can be traced through a broad field of theoretical study, including early experiments by Nicolas Schöffer, John Cage, and Iannis Xenakis, who have been credited for transposing systems theory from the sciences to the arts. Historical influences also informed systems art, such as the onset of emerging technologies, societal and political upheaval, and the radical art movements of the 60’s. Critic/theorist/curator Jack Burnham was a key figure in defining systems as its own medium. He wrote that systems hold the potential to shift the ways in which one experiences time, social relationships, and cultural differences. His writings referenced artists like Hans Haacke, who incorporated these ideas in his work and proposed that the production of systems or interference with existing systems could in turn affect changes in society and the environment. Burnham’s 1968 Artforum essay, “Systems Esthetics,” and his 1970 “Software” exhibition mark the origins of a medium that is still being shaped and re-defined.

The works collected for PRINT + SYSTEMS + SOUND represent five contemporary voices that take separate paths to explore systems-based art. Each artist confronts the viewer with traditional media — printmaking, textiles, poetry, sculpture, collage — but imbued with “systems thinking” processes derived from technology, the body, consciousness, and the relationships between musical, spatial, and architectural structures.

About the Artists:

DAN HALL`s conceptually driven practice draws our attention to the tenuous relationships we have with technology and the internet. His projects explore a variety of alternative processes relating to printmaking and digital media. He has exhibited his work in venues across the region including; The Museum of Fine Arts at Florida State University (Tallahassee, FL), Fountain Art Fair (Miami, FL), Working Method Contemporary (Tallahassee, FL), C. Emerson Fine Arts, (St. Petersburg, FL), and Cumberland Gallery, (Nashville TN). 

JOHN C. KELLEY is an Assistant Professor of 4D and Time-Based Arts at the University of Tennessee Knoxville. His video work has screened domestically at venues such as The Mid-America Arts Alliance (Kansas City, MO), the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (Bentonville, AR) the Arizona International Film Festival (Tucson, AZ), The Front (New Orleans, LA), the Index Art Center (Newark, NJ), Living Arts (Tulsa, OK), internationally in cities such as London, Moscow, Berlin, Sao Paolo, Mexico City, Edinburgh, Vienna, Prague, Amsterdam, and others. Kelley has written original music for award-winning feature-length narrative and documentary films through Gray Picture in St. Louis, MO, released music as a solo artist through King Electric Records in Austin, TX, and has appeared on more than 25 recordings and albums. My studio practice consists of installed and linear video, sound, collaborative performance, and music for film. While these specific media are important to me, I am driven by experimentation in hybrid forms between these emphases. In all pursuits, I am interested in the abstraction of narrative, the ambiguity of mediated experience, and the fallibility of memory. 

SAM KING has exhibited in venues across the United States, including Laconia Gallery, Boston; Blindfold Gallery, Seattle; Drawl Southern Contemporary Art, Little Rock; The Provincial, Kaleva, MI; Gatewood Gallery, University of North Carolina Greensboro; Prince Street Gallery, New York. His paintings are held in a number of public and private collections. In 2015, he was a visiting artist at the Mount Gretna School of Art. In 2012, he curated Tenses of Landscape, an exhibition of contemporary landscape painting, for the University of Arkansas Fine Arts Center Gallery. King was a 2007 recipient of an Arkansas Arts Council Individual Artist Fellowship (Painting). He has organized art and music events for a variety of venues in Northwest Arkansas. 

ELYSIA MANN Confusing the singular and plural suggests an alternative way of being in which self and other share definitions. The individual expands and opposites contract. We are uncertain of our boundaries. My work embraces doubt as a way of knowing-redundancy as a performance of doubt. With an interdisciplinary approach that includes printmaking, weaving, installation, and poetry, I am interested in repetition. In simultaneous twos. In redundancy and its power to influence how we view and tolerate contradictions. Areas of uncertainty that repeatedly come into focus include language, time, the body, and the body politic. Here, borders are rewritten, data reshuffled. My work offers no conclusion nor call to action. Instead, it acts in tentative gestures of unravelling, rejoining. My expansive approach to materials and themes is rooted in this hope: that what seems irreconcilable might be-ideally-redundant. 

ABIGAIL LUCIEN’S work foregrounds their dual Haitian-American nationality by looking at ways cultural identities and inherited colonial structures transmit to the body and psyche. Their sculptures exert an architectural vernacular, echoing structures and boundaries found in residential and commercial spaces. Mirroring forms with inherent dualities, their work addresses notions of visibility, authenticity, and hybridity as they relate to diasporic identity. Lucien (b. 1992, Dallas, TX) is an interdisciplinary artist raised in Florida and Cap-Haitian, Haiti. They hold a BFA from Florida State University and an MFA in Printmaking from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Their work has exhibited at museums and institutions such as MOMA PS1 in Long Island City, New York, Atlanta Contemporary in Atlanta, GA., Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Museum of Fine Arts in Tallahassee, FL, Woman Made Gallery in Chicago, IL, as well as High Tide Gallery, Vox Populi Gallery, and The Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philadelphia, PA. Lucien is currently based in Richmond, VA where they teach in the Sculpture + Extended Media department at Virginia Commonwealth University.