Meet the Artists of the Artadia Biennial

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In a sea of grants, scholarships, and arts-inclined non-profits, Artadia stands apart as a a national fund that fosters both the visual arts and creative dialogue. Showcasing the work of 41 artists working in five US cities, the organization’s first print publication presents an overview of the organization’s 2008-2009 biennial work through images of the projects themselves as well as questions directed at the artists about their work. Ranging from video to sculpture, painting, and multimedia installations, here are some of our favorite pieces (and artist quotes) from this pitch-perfect overview of contemporary creativity.

Lauren Kelley, Upside (video stills, 2007)

“My most current body of work is rooted in the hopes of speaking to an audience that is engaged directly with popular culture via television. My stop-motion animation work is a series that has been crafted for my local public-access cable channel. With the hopes of thwarting channel surfers, one of my aspirations for this series is engaging with viewers in an all-consuming space.”

Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle, Iceberg (r11i01) (2005)

“Although my work responds to our contemporary climate, it does so in order to understand it as part of a vast panorama of continual shifts, that is, history. I approach it as contiguous with the social, the political, as well as the phenomenological event. The work is never autobiographical, yet it is highly self-critical. I am always aware of the extent to which we are all implicated in how the world represents itself to us.”

Ambreen Butt, Untitled (from the series “Dirty Pretty”, 2008)

“Working from the rich imagery of mass media and archival resources, my visual vocabulary references the issues of war, violence, resistance, gender, and power struggle. Engaging in these issues in my work, my peripheral interest remains in recontextualization of the painting in contemporary practice, which I try to achieve by updating its technical and conceptual process.”

Fahamu Pecou, Unamerican Idol (2009)

“Audience is important in my work because I have to consider the relevance of my ideas as they develop. Though I would make art with or without an audience, I enjoy the engagement with the audience, I always consider how to best broach an idea and its presentation. These types of challenges are imperative to my growth as an artist.”

Katrina Moorhead, Draumalandid, RedGreenBluePeony (2007)

“In order to highlight a story or related notion, I frequently appropriate existing histories (personal or collective) and invert them so that they may be reconsidered. I have a proclivity towards topics, objects, and artifacts that are past their prime. As the works invariably involve oblique cultural commentary, using a recognizable object and ‘doing something to it’ is a process that I often find myself engaged in.”

Eric Gottesman, Hanna Mesfin’s Mother’s Photo Album (detail, 2007)

“Though my work relies on a conceptual commitment to collaboration and a subversive discourse with my subjects, photographic craft is paramount in the success or failure of my final products. Community collaboration is often wrongly cast as a substitute for formal rigor; on the contrary, I see my decision to cede artistic authority to other people as a way to supersede the formal limits of making better images.”

James Gobel, Nature Make a Man of Me (2008)

“The nature of craft in my work is very important to me. The construction and materials play an essential role in the way the images ultimately function. I love the idea that my paintings made of felt suggest warmth and comfort—the hand lovingly crafting an image that materially and conceptually embraces the viewer.”

Stephanie Toppin, Self-Portrait (no. 1-5) (2007)

“There is no way to think of the present self; it hinders one from being. The work is a self-portrait but not a reflection; rather, it is an escape from analyzing and assists in understanding in understanding the current identity. I am able to see who I am more accurately.”