Loosely codified as a genre in the early 1960s, “soft sculpture” describes such artworks made from “ignoble” materials – that is, those sculptural materials lacking the permanence and tradition of marble or bronze. In place of these rigid media, soft sculpture is made from any number of soft materials – fiber, latex, rubber, etc. The literal associations between these materials and organic forms (particularly flesh) lends these kinds of artworks a unique viscerality.
Several works in this group exhibition are made by sampling the artist’s flesh tones, imbuing sandbags or pillows with an intensely personal quality – raising questions of biography, self portrait, and representation – while diffusing the personal into abstraction. Other’s exude a simultaneously repulsive and titillating quality – resembling at once provocative nudes, and off-putting, blobby neoplasms. Sculpture created as the product of performance operates as both document and proxy for a present body. The confusion of subject and object, body and thing, pervades the exhibition and is an ever present element of the work on view.
This exhibition features work by Kate Hampel, Bobbi Meier, David Nasca, José Santiago Pérez, and Amina Ross.
Kate Hampel holds an MFA in Fiber and Material Studies from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a BFA from Concordia University in Montreal. Based in Chicago, she has participated in residencies across the United States, including the Vermont Studio Center, Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, and the Ragdale Foundation, and was the recipient of the Fountainhead Fellowship in Craft/Material Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University. Her work has been featured in the New York Times and has been shown nationally and internationally at galleries and museums including AIR Gallery in Brooklyn, NY; the Daegu Culture and Arts Center in South Korea; the Michigan Institute for Contemporary Art; and the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art.
Bobbi Meier is a Chicago-based visual artist working in a variety of media. Subversion and ambiguity are recurring themes in her work, as she engages sensibilities of seduction, humor and discomfort. Meier explores implications of the body through sculptural abstraction, imparting psychological meaning through production, challenging viewer perception. Recent exhibitions include: Perspiration Glitz at Roots and Culture, Chicago; Evanston Art Center 24th Biennial, Evanston, IL; The Second Terrain Biennial, Oak Park, IL; The Tyranny of Good Taste at Glass Curtain Gallery, Chicago; Bare Bones at The Franklin, Chicago. She has been awarded residencies at: The Vermont Studio Center in Johnson,VT; Ragdale in Lake Forest, IL; Ox-Bow in Saugatuck, MI; and was a fellow at Anderson Ranch in Snowmass, CO. She recently completed a Hatch Projects Residency at the Chicago Artists Coalition and is currently participating in The Center Program at the Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago. Meier earned her MA in Art Education in 2000, and MFA in Fiber and Material Studies in 2011 at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
David Nasca’s sculptural works are often distortions or elaborations on recognizable, utilitarian objects. Other sculptures are hypothetical, often imagined models of non-binary biology. Both of these strategies allow him to engage with dialogs around personal fantasy and the project of imagining a queer future. He has exhibited work nationally and internationally at the Centro Cultural del México Contemporáneo, ArtSpace Mexico, Mana Contemporary (Chicago), and Sullivan Galleries (Chicago), among others. He received his BA with Honors in Studio Art from the University of Chicago. He lives and works in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago.
José Santiago Pérez draws on embodied memory and knowledge, sensorial rigor, and the elastic duration of deep play to investigate the poetics of love, loss, and desire. His varied art practice moves between fiber, performance, performance-based sculpture, and immersive walking. He has presented work in Chicago at Defibrillator Gallery, Links Hall, Zhou B. Art Center, Mana Contemporary, Comfort Station, and The Vault. He has also presented work at performance art festivals in Boston, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. He received his BA from UC Santa Cruz, MA from San Francisco State University, and MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. José lives in Chicago with his partner and their dog.
Amina Ross is an undisciplined artist born and raised in New York, NY. Amina currently lives and works in Chicago, IL.
HEADER IMAGE: Kate Hampel, “Floodwall” (2015, ongoing) [Detail]