“The materials [Ginsburg] brings in—felt, sponges, bees, and other organic matter—are often
symbolic in their porousness, liquidity, or material properties and are as significant to the work as the
gatherings that form around them...Ginsburg’s position as an artist, or ‘maker’ resembles a
community organizer and activist with a strong belief in the potency of visual and tactile forms.”
— Regine Basha
Virginia-based artist Hope Ginsburg constructs immersive, participatory environments driven by her interest in the often-concurrent roles of student and teacher, and in modes of collaborative learning. Ginsburg’s installations often assume familiar shapes—a science lab, a flea market, a classroom—however, each project takes on an autonomous life, propelled forward by the on-going contributions of its participants. In a body of work that spans over a decade, Ginsburg has engaged contexts such as corporations, universities, and farms, imagining who she can be within them.
Adopting roles such as employee, student, teacher, and researcher, she has made sense of these contexts through direct participation and has generated projects in the form of contributions, oppositions, and propositions. Ginsburg’s Sponge project, which began at MIT in 2006, was born of that institution’s culture of pedagogy, experimentation and learning by doing. Her shift in identity between student and teacher as she moved into the role of professor has continued to fuel the Sponge project for the past five years.
Ginsburg’s project at CUE Art Foundation incorporates selected aspects of the past five years of Sponge—a fluid, ever-expanding series of workshops, labs, and object-making gatherings. The project, sustained by a network of co-artists, collaborators, and visitors, has migrated and evolved since its first iteration, to its more permanent, central headquarters at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA. Sponge, as Ginsburg describes “has generated experimental approaches to learning and teaching… providing open waters for the conspicuous mixing of disciplines.” The ideas most central to Sponge—the taking in of information, the digestion of an experience, the cycle of learning something and then teaching it to another— will reverberate throughout the exhibition, each element extracted from or a document of a Sponge-related event. Working across media and disciplines, Ginsburg, and her network of collaborators and participants, explore what it means to teach, to learn, and to know.