MICA (Maryland Institute College of Art), 2011, BFA
My practice is informed by landscapes of labor that have surrounded me growing up in port cities and urban industry. Streets lined with bodegas and sandwich boards, abandoned trolley rails and carriage houses influence my work and are indicative of layers of systems that collage onto each other and create all together new ones. I rewrite, revise, and recontextualize objects to create sense of these systems and to create my own. In order to create these facsimiles of capitalism, I hand-make fishing nets, flags, signs, ropes, and other relics found in industry to try to make sense of it all, and to find precarious balances of utility and uselessness as they exist around us. Using princess color palettes of pinks, purples, and bright primary colors, I infantilize the found objects, as capitalism and the patriarchy infantilizes the feminine, the queer, and the effeminate.
My work draws upon gendered histories that surround us as I attempt to place objects into new queer contexts. With pompoms and pop music and gems and velvet, I give different representations of industry a makeover, but using craft and hand work, I go deep, and demand more. I demand more of my viewers, of industry, of gender representation, and America. I see much of my work as cartoons, or objects cartoonified. Bright colors, patterns, and a general silliness allows viewers to access the work but then confounds with more serious questions of silence, death and stillness.
My work is meant to be funny, in a curious sort of way. It’s an inward laugh. It is queer, but not sexy.
Dain Mergenthaler is an interdisciplinary artist who makes work about the urban landscape of industry surrounding him. Dain holds an MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art and a BFA from Maryland Institute College of Art, both in fiber, and has explored and exhibited around the country. He has held residencies and fellowships at Caldera Arts, Offshore Residency, The Studios at MASS MoCA, Vermont Studio Center, ACRE Residency, Wassaic Project, and has participated in workshops at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, and Penland School of Crafts. Mergenthaler’s most recent projects have included exhibitions at The Heidelberg Project (Detroit, MI), Hatch Art (Hamtramck, MI), Lillstreet Art Center (Chicago, IL), and ACRE Projects (Chicago, IL). He is currently living and working in New York City and is a 2017 Media Arts Fellow at BRIC Media in Downtown Brooklyn.
The website will be permanently closed shortly, so please retrieve any content you wish to save.