History, in the broadest sense, refers to a series of events in the past. Biased storytelling and embellishments that dominated the conferences of cavemen have been replaced by research and theory. Although modern chronologies have evolved, historical variation proves that the concept of "history" is anything but definite. The same can be said of art history. The artists in Re/Deconstructing History reinvent techniques, materials, symbols, and representations from the past. Each work similarly challenges moments in world history, from the tumultuous history of the American continent to ancient myths and cultural traditions, and allows for a reassessment of historical "facts."The narratives each artist engage, such as found photographs or traditional 18th century european porcelain techniques, are completely restructured in the process. The past is utilized for a means to new ends.
Jessica Stoller's untitled porcelain sculptures subvert our perceptions of the decorative and the history of the commonplace figurine. Stoller creates figurative sculptures that are physically and emotionally layered with tiers of cascading lace, netting, and hair overtaking their emotionally charged bodies. The works reference the long history of the subjugated female body through the prisms of religion, history and modern societal restraints. The notion of these collected objects as predominately decorative, weak, and inherently female are subverted. The figures depicted are purposely sexual, self-sacrificing and violent, powerful and unaware of the power they possess. Stoller refrains from the conventional femininity and beauty of collectable figurines, dipped lace, and decorative european ceramics of the 18th century. Joseph Heidecker generates completely new histories of found vintage photographs. He creates a new narrative with thread, beads, and other modern embellishments. Businessmen from the 1940s, scientific textbook sketches of the human skeleton, and beauty shots fall prey to his transformations. The photographs are empty moments of lost time until Heidecker's fantastical additions ascribe a novel anecdote to the images.
Matthew Craven and Eric Beltz use American history as a backdrop for storytelling. Images of Native American cultures and landscapes, both well-known and extremely ambiguous, create patterns in Craven's work. His arrangements highlight shape and composition rather than historical accuracy, solidifying their participation in a completely unique myth. Beltz's graphite drawings engage the American and Industrial revolutions, energizing the quaint imagery and fables centered around the era. By challenging the pristine picture of America's forefathers, Beltz defies the infrastructure of American morals and reconstructs history through visual fantasies.
William P. Immer will be exhibiting two new works that manipulate art historical forms with a modern twist. His past works integrate aesthetic traditions such as Renaissance portraiture or the classical odalisque with contemporary inventions such as fanny packs, thongs, or modern medical advancements. His humorous images blur the distinction between past and present, realism and fantasy.
Each mention of the past in Re/Deconstructing History is disarming yet proposes a challenge to look beyond the superficiality of antiquated narratives. These artists are inspired by the history they manipulate yet consciously disengaged from its confinement, creating completely renewed accounts of meaning. This exhibition summons the voyeur who yearns to explore and dissect the world rather than absorb it.