The Drawing from Lives exhibition is part of an emerging visual arts project, co-developed by Aron Gent, Joan Giroux and Whitney Huber, bringing together works in various media emphasizing autobiographical and/or biographical investigations. The project began with a small group of artists recognizing that motivation for their work often derives from life changes, attention to incident, narratives of life or self, and personal history.
That these kinds of inspiration are central to working processes of many artists is not surprising; it is broadly understood and somewhat taken for granted. Personal narrative or details of an artist’s life often appear on placards or text accompanying works, in essays, interviews and artist talks. Development of artistic persona is perhaps inextricable from the making of contemporary art. Yet these concerns are often secondary for curators and art writers, may be considered ancillary to the work, or are folded into other curatorial approaches.
Drawing from Lives foregrounds works that can be more fully understood through comprehension of linkages between the work and knowledge of the life of its maker or the life of another — a challenge to notions of works of art as autonomous communication or aesthetic experience. We are interested in a broad range of practices used by artists in observation, reflection, construction and deconstruction of self and life as a means to ideation or production of works of art. Avenues of exploration include contemporary or alternative self-portraiture and portraiture, the relationship of the individual to others or groups, self-creation, self-absorption, self-narration, and the significance of life events.
This project values the longstanding role of artists to transform individual experience into opportunities for group investigation of meaning. Looking at others looking at their lives, we can think and learn about our own. This is perhaps an especially significant bandwidth of contemporary art practice to highlight in an age that is seeing increased growth of social activism in the arts (a diffusing of artistic self) and is at the same time often defined by a rise in narcissism (absorption in the self).
In this first exhibition of Drawing from Lives is the work of Christiane Fichtner, Aron Gent, Joan Giroux, Emily Green, Whitney Huber, Chris Kerr, Heidi Kumao, Betsy Odom, Joseph Rynkiewicz and Luke Wyszkowski. The work includes photography, sculpture, installation, video, performance, pictorial media, and sound.