Curated by Mimi Cabell and Phoebe Stubbs
Gelman Gallery
20 North Main Street
Providence, RI 02903

Opening Reception - January 6th, 6 - 8 PM
Exhibition Dates - January 7th - February 6th, 2010

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Break It Down

Break It Down is the title of a story by the writer Lydia Davis. In it the narrator desperately tries to quantify a short and painful and love affair in monetary terms. He spent ten days, six hundred dollars, and only came away with an old shirt. The instinct to “break it down” by materializing an intangible and complex feeling into accessible units was the impetus for this exhibition. Breaking something apart makes it manageable.

Break It Down, the exhibition, brings together twenty artists who, like Davis, employ deconstruction as a device for understanding. All the artists shown share a process that involves deconstruction—whether of a system, an object, an image, or an idea. Break It Down is an exhibition that explores complexity through simplicity. It examines deconstruction as both a productive and destructive act. In representing this paradox, Break It Down asks: How do we stop before we’ve gone too far?

Installation shots

More installation shots

Jonathan Wang, BFA '11 Glass

Jonathan Wang created a handmade light bulb as a way to investigate the many complex, now largely mechanized, processes involved in creating a household fixture we see but often hardly notice. When ignited the bulb flashed temporarily and the image of the bright glowing wire was left as a trace burnt onto the interior of the glass.

Alex Temple, BFA '11 Sculpture

Temple drew the face of every Italian hostage killed in the Fosse Ardeatine Massacre of 1944. He used drawing as a means to know those who were killed. By spending time in mausoleum, sitting with every single tomb, he was able to comprehend the severity of what had taken place.

Laura Swanson, MFA '11 D+M

In “Fanon” Swanson breaks down both critical theory for children who experience otherness, and the distance between the audience and the artwork generally observed in galleries and museums. The doll is embedded with an audio book of a text that historically has been employed to incite rebellion. With its heated center “Fanon” acts as both an object of comfort and empowerment.

Melanie Steinway, BFA '12 Illustration

“Forests of July” is an exploration of Melanie Steinway’s relationship between her and her sister. In the animation cat-like characters hand drawn by the artist represent the artist and her sister. Each frame is meticulously drawn, the collection of drawings in the end create the story.