With What They Left
Joseph Close, Ron Copeland, Dana Depew, Dave Desimone. 4 artists reusing and rethinking materials found and salvaged from the "Rust Belt" region. Using anything from scrape wood and metal to window frames and wall paper they're recycling yesterdays junk into furniture sculptures and installations.
More of an observer than an artist, Dave Desimone assembles fragments of the past into commentaries about the present. Desimone is most interested in trying to understand why and how our collective and personal histories move from recent memory to being completely forgotten, often in the matter of a few months or years. "Not only do we disrespect our historical past, it appears most American's actively seek to disconnect themselves from it. We are quick to dispose of the very fabric and structure that helps to hold communities together." Desimone holds a Master's degree in Public History from Kent State University and was last seen jumping over a rusty fence.
Ohio native and avid photographer, Ron Copeland, is reclaiming the abandoned buildings of the Rust Belt. For the last eight years, Copeland has explored the depths of these structures to uncover and re-imagine the textures, colors, and the artifacts their tenants left behind. Copeland, who is also a professional archival framer, uses the ‘junk’ he collects to, quite literally, reframe the past—a desk becomes a canvas, old signs and scraps of wallpaper become part of a new visual composition. This is not just an aesthetic choice; reuse and repurposing were part of the time captured in Copeland’s art. The buildings Copeland explored were made to last for an industrial period that didn’t. Rarely are these structures and artifacts seen outside of the context of loss. In this exhibition, he hopes to show the Rust Belt “just the way it is,” a portrait of wasted resources, but also of opportunity. A majority of the materials he used to create this installation were salvaged or recycled. Artists have always found beauty in decay, and Copeland is no exception. Here, though, the work resists nostalgia by recontextualizing found objects into contemporary compositions. In this way, the artwork reminds us that while we can’t change the past, we can reshape the present. Copeland's photography, framing, and assemblage gathers the raw material of the Rust Belt and invites us to see it as it is today, through his eyes.
Dana grew up in a large family on a farm in rural Medina, Ohio. At an early age, he was fascinated by the intricacies of how things worked. He began taking things apart and attempted to put them back together for curiosity’s sake. Dana was formally educated in the arts at Kent State University with a concentration in sculpture. His current work focuses heavily on the usage of found objects and resurrecting discarded materials into wholly new vibrant works. Dana opened Asterisk Gallery in 2001, which is an exhibition space that gives much needed opportunities to emerging regional artists. As well as exhibiting his work in exhibitions nationally, Dana is tireless in promoting the arts by curating exhibitions, judging art competitions and residing on the board of directors of several arts and cultural organizations.
Inspired by my childhood fascination with lights, I began disassembling and reassembling antique lamps and chandeliers. I was curious about the structure and assemblage, but even more so, mesmerized by the way various colors, shades and brightness of the bulbs created various sensory experiences for the viewer.
Like the actual materials, the experience is both nostalgic, yet, new. Retro, still, modern.
Although highly visual in nature, the scale and texture of these works explore other sensory perceptions. The sculptures explore personal themes relating to self-exploration, particularly, my own questions regarding breaking down, being re-built, and how many times "rebirth" can occur. Is it then new or different? The usage of light reflects the idea that these discarded and unwanted objects can transcend the boundaries of "trash" into something to be desired. What was once broken and empty is now full of light and has been carefully nursed back to health and utilization.