Pieceable Kingdom is about the relationship between the past and the present, particularly the way that contemporary reality sometimes seems to be connected to the past by having fallen away from it. This seven-artist show refers to the Biblical idea of the Peaceable Kingdom by way of a misspelling to suggest that age-old ideas often take shape in the present in ways that distort their original meanings, calling them to mind while signaling the unbridgeable distance between the world they were once a part of and the present, which is different—for better and for worse.
The rapid pace of modern life has a lot to do with these changes. The same goes for the sheer number of images that bombard our eyeballs and brains, making it easy for attention spans to diminish, perhaps beyond the point of no return. But even more is due to the increasing volume—and increasing brevity—of everyday communication, which leaves more room for misinterpretation and misunderstanding. People seem to be increasingly comfortable with what I think of as “horseshoes and hand-grenades” language: a sloppy looseness of choosing words and phrases that are not exactly right for conveying the sentiments and intentions of the writer or speaker, but close enough to get the general idea across—at least until the next message comes back, asking what the first one meant, demanding clarification, or revealing that the damage has been done and that there’s no way to go forward because it’s too time-consuming and annoying to have to hear everything two or three times. The Tower of Babel may not exist, but its spirit seems to inhabit the atmosphere around every cell tower and satellite.
The upside to this potentially grim situation is that it opens up some space in which unusually inventive artists can play fast and loose with business as usual, transforming misperceptions into insights, turning misinterpretations into magnificently mixed-messages, and twisting misunderstandings into multilayered revelations—not those of the Bible but ones within arm’s reach, right here and right now.
The works by Erin Cosgrove, Asad Faulwell, Maxwell Hendler, Laura Krifka, Mimi Lauter, Devin Troy Strother, and Matt Wedel capture the complexity of everyday life by giving form to its down-to-earth beauty and uplifting ordinariness, its tribulations and triumphs, its pleasures and pains. As a group, they piece things together, sometimes literally and sometimes figuratively, creating singular pieces that are complete unto themselves yet also openly invite all sorts of stories, from other times and places, to echo across their sensuous surfaces. –David Pagel