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Spring Brings Trio of New Exhibitions to The Fed Galleries @ KCAD

Posted March 7, 2016 in Gallery

Spring is just around the corner, and so is a new lineup of exciting exhibitions in The Fed Galleries @ Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University (KCAD).

Three new exhibitions opened in the galleries on March 1: The Ministry of Medium Machines, featuring the work of Detroit-based artist Marat Paransky; Wielding Power, featuring the work of New York-based artist Susan Graham; and Dredged/Drawn, a group exhibition of work by eleven renowned ceramic artists from across the U.S.

Originally hailing from Ukraine, Paransky was only an infant when the Chernobyl nuclear disaster occurred in 1986. He and his family lived in Kiev, fewer than 100 miles from the disaster site. The Ministry of Medium Machines comprises hand-made, found, and modified objects and images born out of Paransky's own contemplation of the event and how it impacted both those who experienced it and the world at-large.

work by artist Marat Paransky"Headwear for the Nuclear Age" by Marat Paransky (image courtesy of the artist)

Utilizing materials that are specific to nuclear emergencies and human health as well as second-hand memories of those who were impacted by the Chernobyl disaster, Paransky has created a mixed-media installation of photographs, paintings, sculptures, collages and an archive of books/articles that function as a museum of sorts, inviting viewers to explore the accident as a historical event, a cultural construct, and a personal experience.

“What really make’s Marat’s exhibition so powerful is that it’s meant to be experienced as one whole; in that way it steers viewers away from the typical black-and-white thinking that plagues the debate on nuclear energy and instead throws them into the reality, which is uncertainty,” says Curator of Exhibitions Michele Bosak. “His work also has a very powerful element of satire in it that provokes interesting and unexpected reactions.”

Also included in the exhibition is a photo series titled “Pr0n” in which Paransky puts a satirical twist on the concept of “ruin porn” by reframing images of ruined buildings as tourism promotions.

Wielding Power is the manifestation of artist Susan Graham's personal fascination with the moment before or just at the first awareness of an occurrence of violence, in which the outcome can be known or imagined. These instances of stillness and suspension are explored first through Graham's lacy, filigreed sculptures of guns. Made out of sugar or porcelain, these sculptures of menacing objects lay prettily inert in their cases, sending a mixed message that reflects both a basic human ambivalence to guns and the artist's own mixed feelings of desire, nostalgia, and apprehension toward guns.

work by artist Susan Grahamwork from Susan Graham's collection of sculptures entitled "My Dad's Gun Collection" (image courtesy of the artist)

Similarly, Graham's arresting black and white photographs, in which ominous skies dominate unsettled landscapes, are nonetheless imbued with a certain familiarity that evokes feelings of home or sweetness. Taken with a homemade pinhole camera and composed using small porcelain and sugar sculptures as props, the photos – like her sculptures of guns – exude elements of whimsy and fantasy that stand in juxtaposition to their foreboding subject matter.

“I was attracted to Susan’s work because it doesn’t attempt to politicize ideas about guns, violence, and danger, but instead investigates them from a very personal level,” said Bosak. “Rather than provoking an immediate visceral response, this exhibition instead disarms viewers and causes them to take a step back and more carefully engage the individual works and the ideas they’re grappling with.”

Dredged/Drawn, co-curated by Bosak and KCAD Sculpture and Functional Art Assistant Professor Israel Davis, converges eleven ceramic artists who each incorporate elements of drawing in their work. In investigating the act of drawing in its broadest sense, the exhibition expands beyond traditional notions of drawing. In this diverse collection of work, drawing emerges through printed imagery, scrawled surfaces, lines of coils, and wire armatures, all of which abstract form and blur the line between two and three dimensions.

Davis, a prolific and highly respected ceramic artist who has showcased his talent through countless exhibitions, publications, awards, and artist residencies, worked with Bosak to assemble a group of ceramic artists that are among the most recognized in the field.  

work by artist Emily Duke"Flute Anchor Phase II" by Emily Duke, include in the Dredged/Drawn exhibition

"When I think of drawing I think of mark making, and when I think of making a mark I think of creative expression and drawing from one’s experiences to imbue a particular character within the work that evokes a visual language. Each of these artists has left an indelible mark on the field of ceramics by pushing its boundaries, dredging deeply into its potential as both a craft and conceptual material,” said Davis. “Dredged/Drawn sees the act of making a mark as the action of hand to eye, a visual study of personal metaphor and the widening of the breadth of interpretation of a mode or medium of art making."

Marat Paransky will give a gallery talk on March 17 from 11:30am-12:30pm in The Fed Galleries. Further auxiliary programming may be announced in the coming weeks.

For more information on upcoming exhibitions and gallery events, visit kcad.edu/galleries.