Project statement: Consume is a video installation that investigates how chronic lust for stimulation has altered my construct of self. I represent overstimulation through the chaotic conglomerate of screens, objects, and nonlinear video scenes. The videos are all about overconsumption and confront my dependency on subcultures to define individual identity. I use the societally loaded images of pill bottles, the female form, and religious symbols to investigate how growing up lower class, identifying as queer in a Christian community, and being diagnosed with mental illness all planted a sense of “other” into me which resulted in an urge to define my identity in relation to the rest of my generation based on subcultures like "post-grunge", "queer" and "emo". Currently, I am realizing the Western privilege of this fixation with self-actualization in the face of a world full of starvation, inequality, and climate crisis. With this project, I am admitting that I am part of a generational problem. In my work moving forward, I will explore how I can synchronize this awareness with my actions. Artist statement: I use the societally loaded images of pill bottles, the female form, and religious symbols to investigate how growing up lower class, identifying as queer in a Christian community, and being diagnosed with mental illness all planted a sense of “other” into me. Coming of age I felt like I had no control over the labels forced unto me, which urged me to root my individual identity in subcultures like Post-grunge, Emo, and Generation Z’s internet culture. Now, I’ve now started realizing the Western privilege behind this fixation with individualism in the face of a world full of starvation, inequality, and climate crisis. My current work confronts my personal embodiment of issues like violence, drug dependency, masturbatory nostalgia, and aestheticization of mental illness that characterize this subculture I identify with.
BRYON LEE ALLISON
Artist statement: As a developing artist I am trying to find a form of expression that combines my artistic interests in realism, the abstract and aesthetics. Aesthetics and presentation are important to me in the way that revealing versus telling is important to a writer. I see the visual arts as a vehicle in which symbolism and metaphor can come together to create a story. One that, through the use of figurative and literal forms a picture can be created that denotes a bigger message or idea to be found. Recently, I have begun to experiment with creating lines outside of traditional drawing methods. Using yarn provides a more tactile way of drawing. Furthermore, by breaking out of the confines of two dimensions, I no longer need to rely on optical illusions to suggest things like weight and depth. The commonality of thread is universal and as such I find that it strengthens my ability to create forms that are recognizable yet, obscure enough to allow viewers to fill in the blanks based upon their own experiences.
Project Statement: Inspired by the illustrative posters of Alphonse Mucha, I used yarn as a principle medium for this piece. It is through the use of yarn that I was able to create the natural flowing lines which played such a key role in helping to define the style of Mucha. I then used varying tensions and colors to create an abstract form that contrasted intentional and natural. By placing this abstraction to the foreground, I rely on the viewer to fill in the blanks and to read the form either as a depicted figure, a symbol, or a material presence
Artist statement: Not fitting into the cultural expectations of machismo, and being born and raised in the conservative state of Wyoming have resulted in an obsession to create work that boldly address and contextualize the hardships that I have experienced. I heard statements like “In Wyoming we don’t take offense to gays, we take gays to a fence” (in reference to Matthew Shepard). I draw inspiration from dichotomous life experiences and beliefs, such as the interface between religion and pervasive machismo in my own culture, as a queer male. Over 80% of Mexicans identify as Catholic, and as such, Roman Catholicism is part of my lived experience and its practices have been ubiquitous in my life. Roman Catholicism is arguably the root of my culture and has prohibited me from being a proudly effeminate queer male without feeling an overwhelming sense of fear. Through my work, I glorify the queer identity of first generation Latinx individuals and provide my community a platform to explore their gender expression and gender identity without the fear and sexual guilt that I felt growing into my own.
Project statement: Roman Catholic imagery often portrays Jesus in tears to remind us of the sacrifices He made. When I portray my subjects in tears, it is meant to serve a similar purpose. There are many individuals in the queer community who are dying (being killed) for a cause. The transgender community, more specifically transgender women of color, are most affected. The stained glass in the background contains arches in reference to the conquest and colonialism from when Catholicism was originally brought and forced upon the American people by the Spanish. The bars holding the stained glass together, bear aesthetic similarities to a cage.
Artist statement: My artwork is based around emotions and the human condition. I often use human and animal forms to portray this. I achieve this by stripping the figure of all that makes it unique, leaving behind the core form, to which I add feeling. Other times, I combine the animal and human forms to evoke an emotion from the viewer. My work tries to focus on the intensity of human emotion. In many of my works you can perceive multiple emotions ranging from uneasiness, despair, anger and playfulness. It is my intention to create work that any viewer is able to relate to, whether it trigger their own emotional experiences or that of others. Most of my pieces are spontaneous, I usually find myself creating a piece that is influenced by a formative experience from my past.
Artist statement: Years ago when I made cups on the wheel, I’d slice off the upper ring of my pot to even the rim. I’d toss the slices on boards and glaze them like the pots and leave them in piles or suspend them in air. A studiomate called them my shrapnel. Now, without pots, I make piles of shapes, coils, beads and shards, bisque them individually, and join them with glaze. Using the glaze as glue, I trap the shards into pieces that sit unfinished from abandoned projects. I find peace in this stacking, this rebuilding, this healing. And when I fire the kiln, there is great potential for upset or excitement, depending on the success of my estimations and what the heat does to the work. I force myself to detach from the outcome, mirroring the detachment necessary to navigate our world. The resulting sculptures point to the realities you can only think about for a fraction of your day: the crush of bodies, bottle caps filling the stomach of an albatross, garbage islands, artificial islands, walls topped with wire or glass to slice your hands when you try to cross, and all-out collapse. I want to report on myself and the world: on my complicity (which I try to disrupt – and it doesn’t work) with “the dirty muck of life,” the forces and the interconnectedness that keep us all entangled, all stooped in line.
Artist statement: Within my work, I carefully select fragments of imagery from my own lived experiences, the experiences of my family, dream imagery, and aspects of folklore in order to construct surreal narratives.
Project statement: This piece is an exploration of the relationship between my sister, Isabel, and myself. There is a ten year age gap between us, and although our differences are prominent, I find myself getting caught up in all the similarities we share. These similarities range from physical, features that others can see in both of us from the outside; to mental and emotional aspects that are within us which only she and I experience. She began high school not long after this piece was created, and I find myself wondering if certain experiences I had will be similar or different for my sister.
Artist statement: The upbringing that I experienced occurred in homes decked to their ceilings in wildlife art. I consider works by rural artists, wherein fantasy moments are created depicting large deer in heterosexual pairings bedding in the snow, and pheasants flying up dramatically from harvested corn fields. For many from my region, these works are a vision of fine art, despite their exclusion from the art historical canon. Most often these wildlife works are heavily romanticized, and plainly some degree of kitsch, but they are successful because they operate through a visual language rural Americans are fluent in. The commodified wildlife arts simply aim to raise the rose-tinted lenses between the countryman and the world around him. I haven’t lost comfort in the visual language of wildlife art, and I haven’t lost appreciation for my upbringing. Though, through distance, I’ve gained a more critical perspective. Queerness is not absent from the American hinterland. In fact, I see it everywhere. The trouble comes from a lack of acknowledgement, and the bleeding of human heteronormative perceptions over the natural, fluid environment. By subverting this commonly heteronormative imagery, I emphasize queerness and flamboyance within these rural spaces. Conversely, in generating wildlife art, I extend an invitation to those who may feel excluded by the elitist nature of the art world and its institutions.
Project statement: We understand sentiment as a feeling – exaggerated and self-indulgent by nature – of tenderness, sadness, and nostalgia. It’s a complex emotion, straddling the inexpressible space between joy and sorrow. We’re afraid of being sentimental, but there’s an irrefutable authenticity to these emotions related to personal histories. I am indulgent in sentimentality. The Family Portrait series documents intergenerational (and often non-archival) objects. I avoid the term heirloom; it’s a fiddly idea in a low-income family. Predominately, ideas and sentiments are the gifts I carry with me. In this triptych, I’ve chosen to depict three views of Golden’s Birds of North America field guide, gifted to my mother on Christmas in 1990 by my grandparents. Each view is a portrait, capturing the mark or ware of three separate generations, an instilled value for knowledge, and an appreciation for birds throughout this lineage.
Artist statement: My work explores human relationships with animals. This subject is one that has historically been strained by extreme power dynamics and conflict. Western society was built on the “man versus nature” trope and American ideology still contains the notions of manifest destiny that spawned the colonization of the Western half of our country. Now we are facing the sixth mass extinction, brought on by our own principles of expansion. I believe that changing our perceptions of the animals that surround us, not only within our homes, but within our communities and environments, can encourage people to transcend this false screen we have placed between us and the so-called “natural world”. My artwork functions as a platform for spurring this change. Currently, my work focuses on our relationships with the animals closest to us, the animals that exist within and around our homes. I believe that pets are an important gateway for building empathy towards non-domesticated animals. By exploring why we find our relationships with our pets so significant, we can also project this caring and stewardship outside the walls of our homes. I use various materials to evoke the unique and extremely personal connections we build between ourselves and these species. Each process is specific to the subject at hand, yet all enact repetitive and time consuming actions in their construction. In this way, process and labor are very important aspects of this work. Repetitive tasks that compile into larger structures portray both the passage and suspension of time. The passage of time manifests in these works as they take an immense amount of patience to construct. The suspension, as they remove me from daily activities and place me into a ritual space. By creating this ritual space, I am able to meditate over the gap in understanding that exists between us and the animals with whom we share our spaces. This allows me to further understand the relationship which I am attempting to portray with all its complexities, contradictions, and rarities. It also allows me to give my time, my most important and valued resource, to that which I find most important, the subjects and relationships that are portrayed within this work.
Project statement: This sculpture explored the memories I have of watching mother deer teach their babies to run and grow strong in the Spring--sheltering them in our backyard woodpile as a safe an nourishing space--and the way that this contrasts the Autumn--when notions of yard work dispose of dead leaves and twigs, and when hunters slice the lower legs from deer they kill (a part seen as having no value, as it has little meat). Deer serve an important role to state economies during hunting season. They also are disastrous to the environment, as their ability to adapt well to urban and suburban areas pairs well with the absence of natural predators. People love deer, find them beautiful, gentle, and graceful, but people also love to obtain them, hunt them, and keep their bodies as trophies. This relationship is not a duality, and many people feel all of these things when approaching the subject of deer. This sculpture was my attempt at ruminating over these complicated and seemingly conflicting ideas. Crafting each stick and leaf by hand assisted in this meditation. I used ashes from a deer killed by a hunter, placing them at the top of an altar-like pedestal, which references ideas of sacred sacrifices.
Statement: My passion for and understanding of Chinese art began from reading my father’s collection of traditional Chinese comic strips (Lianhuanhua連環畫). When I was seven years old, he discovered my enthusiasm for Chinese art, so he sent me to study with an art teacher. Under the guidance of Wang Hai-yan, our city’s most talented artist, I began learning Chinese painting and calligraphy. As my study advanced, Wang taught me to explore the flower and bird painting, and the figure painting. Fifteen years have passed; my art practice has enabled me to understand not only the subtle stylistic changes but also the interplay between brush and ink. For instance, I can analyze an artwork based on the artist’s choice of mediums, materials, scales, motifs, and functions of it. Let's consider painting not only as an image but also as a three-dimensional object, reconstructing its meanings about cultural, social, and political context. In this way, we can deepen our understanding of the artwork. Also, I pay attention to the material aspect of Chinese painting. For example, the material of fan’s bone, images on the fans, the element of pendants, and the technology of production can reveal the user's social status, sometimes even the historical period that the fan was made. These technical details are essential for understanding an artwork. Furthermore, I am familiar with the painting materials, such as paper, ink, and pigments, which can help me date an artwork. For instance, I can identify various steps of applying colors by observing a painting and date the possible historical period of its creation. My training as an artist makes it easier for me to understand other artist’s techniques and their choices of styles, mediums, and materials. My current research interest in the materiality of colors began from my work in flower and bird painting. To create an exquisite flower and bird painting, I need to study how to use pigments and colors well because colors affect the visual effect of the whole picture. Besides, I learned to depict different plants, flowers, birds, and animals by copying from books and sketching in nature. I think flower and bird painting show people the artistic creation and stylistic changes that are related to science, such as botanical studies, natural history, and cross-cultural exchanges, which is a topic of significant research value.
Project statement: Chinese classical literature has a significant influence on my painting creation. Whenever I read Chinese classical poetry and novels, the storyline and characters in the book are deeply rooted in my mind. Through imagination, I created my familiar characters and storylines through Chinese brushes and painted them into the Chinese folding fan.
Artist statement: My work lies within the intersection of humans and the surrounding land. Through literature, data, and personal interactions with the environment, I research the way we perceive our relationship with nature. Challenging these perspectives, technology is utilized as a tool to connect the natural and manufactured world. I appropriate natural forms such as rocks and icebergs, either in their actual state or as 3D scans of the form. Materials such as glass, iron, and cast paper are vehicles for my concept. This work provokes engagement and action through connecting people to their senses, body, and mind. Ultimately, within my work, I am breaking down the barriers that we as humans create as a separation from nature. I am concerned with researching and cultivating a deeper understanding of these barriers. Why do they exist? How did they come into existence? In order to create change, one must first have a knowledge of how we ended up here today. By helping others understand their connection with the landscape, greater empathy and consciousness for one’s surroundings can manifest. With greater empathy we can live a more meaningful and symbiotic relationship with the landscape that we are an element of.
Project statement: Synthetic Geode III was created from a 3D scan of a geode found in nature. The form was modified and recreated with water jet cut glass.
Artist statement: My work is a tremor. It is a reverberation of an initial event felt throughout a lifetime in the physical, emotional, and mental space of the body; in a family and in community. Compared to the seismic wave of an earthquake, this tremor is a reoccurring reminder of its magnitude as are the objects left in its wake. These objects, like stains upon a mattress or the remnants of a childhood, root the body in the experience of this trauma. It can also offer space for one to contemplate this primary event at a distance, freezing memories caught in this tremor. I explore this overarching theme through experiential and performative material investigations.