January 27–March 18, 2011
Kyle Bravo, Jenny LeBlanc, and Claire Rau
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Kyle Bravo: Self Portrait as a Puking Sleeping Giant
The notion of the sleeping giant has a variety of manifestations in popular culture, typically referring to a situation in which a potential danger is temporarily quieted or held at bay. A conscious giant can wreak havoc, but asleep he can do little harm. To awaken a sleeping giant is therefore usually ill-advised as destruction and mayhem are sure to result.
But what of self-destructive giants? In this piece the giant can do no harm to others because of the harm he instead has done to himself. The giant is quieted by his own self-inflicted sedation. Just as in Gulliver's Travels, where Gulliver falls to sleep (a sleep brought on by both fatigue and a half pint of brandy) only to be captured and restrained by a society of tiny people. So too does the giant in this piece fall prey to an unseemly fate due to his own failings.
If a giant standing tall is a threat, then a prostrate giant is a threat subdued. No longer a threat, the prostrate figure transforms into a serene landscape - the nose and chin become jagged cliffs, the stomach, arms, and legs, rolling hills and valleys. Humans have for centuries been anthropomorphizing the landscape in just this way, as can be seen in a variety of geological formations named for sleeping giants - Sleeping Giant State Park in Connecticut and Sleeping Giant Mountain in Wyoming are two aptly named examples. These formations are often created by volcanic ruptures in the earth's surface from which lava spewed creating raised ridges that resemble a silhouette of a colossal sleeping figure.
Of course the earth ruptures and spews in a variety of ways, not just volcanic. Geysers, fault lines, springs, and even man-made wounds in the earth's surface such as the recent Gulf oil spill are just a few examples of ongoing geological machinations.
Similarly, the human body regularly excretes (and occasionally erupts) a wide variety of substances from a multitude of orifices - sweat, urine, feces, snot, tears, saliva. Vomit, probably the most analogous to a volcanic eruption, is a violent rejection by the body of unwanted substances. In this piece, my sleeping giant's body rejects the source of his sedation just as a volcano erupts the roiling lava beneath the surface.
Repulsive as it may be, puking while sleeping is actually a well-known phenomenon made famous by a variety of "giants" in popular culture. Jimi Hendrix, Anna Nicole Smith, and ACDC lead singer Bon Scott are a few well known examples of the potential dangers of the excesses of celebrity. As can be seen through these examples, giantness is not only dangerous to the tiny people in the vicinity, but also potentially lethal to the giant himself.
Jenny LeBlanc: Rigged
Jenny LeBlanc builds instruments that serve in the marriage of performance to the processes of printmaking. She engages these objects through performances specific to their form, which simultaneously result in and create sculptural remnants of each performative printmaking process. The work produced thusly chronicles the marks that happen when she encounters and interacts with a space or object over time. Whether on paper and canvas, or on treaded ground, every motion makes marks. Marks can prove existences and give influence. Marks offer clues about the past. LeBlanc's work investigates how marks crafted tell a story, trails generated show a path, traces left have a history, and lines created reflect a time. The marks created in these performances document her experience.
Her work often involves the practices of printed media such as text, multiples or editions, silkscreen, and letterpress. She is interested in the symptoms that manifest from repeated interactions with multiples, such as the accumulation of familiarity with the work (perceived as personality), the sense of drudgery associated with repetitive tasks, obsessive labor, and the fertile conversation of drifting thoughts allowed during the production of multiples. Her printmaking instruments usually take the form of common objects that people very ordinarily encounter.
Rigged comprises a basin of flexible material, stretching to and encircled by a set of support structures. These braces resemble the makeshift reinforcements used to shore up failing exterior walls of battered New Orleans homes. At once provisional and semi-permanent, these structures prop and sometimes fail to prop a form in danger of ultimate collapse. Inside this scaffolding, LeBlanc gouges oil-based printing inks from a tower of cylindrical ink cans. She glazes, then swabs the linoleum surface of the basin, creating a printed depiction of the dark bloom within.
Claire Rau: Interrupt
Transmogrifying the surrounding biosphere, volcanoes have long been held as apocalyptic portents. Pressure causes leucite crystals to burst out of fiery eruptions accompanied by tons of ash and lava, a visceral explosion as well as a transformation, remaking its own terrain. Ungovernable and dangerous, the volcano serves as a natural vent for the inner core of the earth, letting off steam through a shower of particulates. The transmutation of molten liquids into solid ground symbolizes part of the continual stress on the crust of the planet. Using this force, resistance, flow and motion, Interrupt reinterprets the disastrous and out of control powers that effect our environment.
Kyle Bravo lives and works in the upper 9th Ward of New Orleans where, along with his wife, artist Jenny LeBlanc, he runs the printmaking studio, Hot Iron Press. Kyle is also a founding member of The Front, an artist-run exhibition space in New Orleans, and his work has been shown in a multitude of exhibitions both nationally and internationally from New Orleans to New York to Tokyo. Kyle is the former organizer of The NOLA Bookfair, an annual event in celebration of independent publishing and alternative media, and he is the editor of the book Making Stuff and Doing Things: A Collection of DIY Guides to Doing Just About Everything, published by Microcosm Publishing.
A New Orleans native, artist and educator Jenny LeBlanc holds degrees from the Alabama School of Fine Arts, Louisiana State University (BFA in sculpture), and Virginia Commonwealth University (MFA in sculpture). She directs Hot Iron Press - a letterpress and silkscreen studio she founded in 2002 with her husband, artist Kyle Bravo. Situated in the Upper 9th Ward of New Orleans, Hot Iron Press serves not only as a printmaking studio, but also as a hub for support and promotion of grassroots arts activities. Via the press, LeBlanc has worked to implement such projects as The Rebuild Fund, Babylon Lexicon artists' book exhibitions, the Hot Iron Press Artist Printmaking Residency Program, and several artistic collaborations with Bravo. LeBlanc is a founding member of The Front, an eminent New Orleans art collective and gallery. Her work, which often occurs at the intersection of performance and printmaking, has been exhibited widely in the US and also in Canada, Italy, and Japan.
Claire Rau was born in Sandusky, Ohio and raised in northeast Tennessee. She completed her degrees at the University of Maine, Orono (BA) and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (MFA). She has taught printmaking and sculpture at several institutions and presently works at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. She is the recipient of several awards and residencies, including the Book Arts & Printmaking Fellowship at the Scuola Internazionale di Grafica (Venice, Italy) in 2006. Continuing her love affair with wood composites, Claire has exhibited in the United States and internationally; upcoming exhibits are scheduled in Louisiana. For more information and images, click here.
All three artists are members of the artist run collective, The Front, fostering the development of contemporary art in the city of New Orleans through exhibitions and community-based projects. For more information, or to order a catalog, please click here.