An artist’s studio. Not your usual studio, as there are in evidence no brushes, no color, no canvases. Instead is the clutter of found objects…
The above description of David Hammons’s Harlem studio in the early 1990s could also be applied, in fact and spirit, to the Artist-in-Residence studios now occupied by Khalif Kelly, Adam Pendleton and Dawit Petros. Traditionally, the artist’s studio is understood as a place where the artist focuses intently on creating and fabricating art objects. The “studio” for these three artists is more expansive, one of many sites—both physical and virtual—where art can be made.
Painter Khalif Kelly is the closest to a traditional studio artist among this year’s residents, though his process looks to pop culture more than high art. His fauvist canvases, which feature children in various scenarios of play and recreation, take their inspiration from 1980s fashion trends and video games, 1930s animation and cinematic storytelling devices. With dexterity in digital image production, Kelly often “sketches” his scenes on a computer before translating them to canvas.
Frequency (2005) alum Adam Pendleton silkscreens on canvas and, at times, works with ceramics or other sculptural objects. Regardless of his choice of materials, Pendleton considers language his medium, working in the tradition of the avant-garde language poetry movement that demonstrated how the meanings of words shift with every new context. Pendleton superimposes and deletes letters over images or arranges objects like an alphabet in space to create new and multiple ways of “reading”.
Dawit Petros recently participated in Flow (2008) with a photography and installation project that showed the remarkable similarities between east African, Canadian and southwestern American landscapes. While a resident, Petros has decided to take the Harlem landscape as his subject and base, walking these historic streets to create a visual archive, as well as a series of postal exchanges with Eritrean immigrants across the world.
Different conceptions of the studio space—how it used, represented and shared—converge with this year’s residents. A shift in emphasis, from making artwork to doing the work of making art, takes their work beyond media and outside the walls of the studio.
John Farris, “Is It Reel or Is It Memorex: Out of His Window,” Parkett 31 (1992): 40–42.