Fluffy, Corky, Dirty, and Mega-Dorky: Preview of the BMA Sondheim Prize 09 Exhibition

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Just to clarify, my title is intended in the best possible light. The playful, and often surprising, use of intellect is palpable in all six bodies of work presented.

The 2009 Sondheim Exhibition is a thought-provoking and exciting show. Most of the work pairs cutting edge technology with a low-tech or low-brow aesthetic. The personal, the quirky, the rough, and the primitive are explored in all six bodies of work, but only after a sophisticated and rigorous editing process.

Thoughtfully contrasting the ‘hands-on’ and the handmade with contemporary technology, this year’s Sondheim show gently expands our consciousness and awareness of what is possible, while seducing us with rich materials and compelling narratives. Warm, rather than cool and open, rather than reserved, there is an inclusive and playful vibe throughout the entire exhibit and the viewer, whether an art academic or a five-year-old, will come away inspired and delighted.

Who’s going to win this year? I always get it wrong. All of the artists have pushed beyond their comfort zone in this show, all have risen to the occasion in different ways. At the preview I attended, viewers lingered longest in Ryan Hackett’s installation – possibly because of the hands-on interactivity or possibly because it was at the end of our tour? He certainly has put together a compelling body of work, but I’m no gambler.

Ryan Hackett

Ryan Hackett received his BA in studio art from the University of Maryland, College Park, and his MFA from San Francisco Art Institute. He co-founded the Washington D.C.-based artist collective Decatur Blue. Hackett was recently included in a sound collaboration for the exhibition “This Case of Conscience” Spiritual Flushing and the Remonstrance at the Queens Museum of Art in New York and in a solo exhibition titled Interspecies Transmission at G Fine Art in Washington, D.C. Hackett lives and works in Kensington, Maryland.

Ryan Hackett explains his work.

Jessie Lehson

Jessie Lehson received a MFA from the Rinehart School of Sculpture and her BA from the Maryland Institute College of Art. Recent one- and two- person shows have been presented at Greater Reston Art Center, Reston, VA; Oxford Occasional, Philadelphia, PA; and Fox3 Gallery, Baltimore, MD. Her work has been featured in group shows at DUMBO Art Center, Brooklyn, NY, and McLean Project for the Arts, McLean, VA, as well as in an outdoor exhibition of modern prefab architecture, high design, low waste innovations for the urban environment at Minima Gallery, Philadelphia, PA.

Jessie Lehson’s outdoor sculptural wall by the Spring House
Karen Yasinsky

Karen Yasinsky’s videos and drawings have been shown at MoMA, NY; Mori Art Musuem, Tokyo; and UCLA Hammer Museum, L.A.; as well as at the International Film Festival Rotterdam and the New York Underground Film Festival. Yaskinsky works with Mireille Mosler, Ltd., NY, and Tanja Pol Galerie, Munich, and teaches Film and Media Studies at The Johns Hopkins University. She is a founding board member of the Gunk Foundation, a private foundation for public art. Yaskinsky was also a finalist for the Janet & Walter Sondheim Prize in 2007.

Karen Yasinsky says a few words about her work.

Leslie Furlong

Leslie Furlong is a photographer and video artist from Baltimore. She received a BA in photography from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and her MFA in Photography and Digital Imaging from the Maryland Institute College of Art. Much of her work explores our ever-transforming landscape: how we experience it and in turn how that experience shapes our direct relationship to that landscape. Her work has been exhibited at the Bridge Art Fair Miami and The Berliner Liste, and locally at C. Grimaldis Gallery, Maryland Art Place, and The Contemporary Museum.

Molly Springfield

Molly Springfield’s highly detailed drawings of texts and installations based on historical texts have been shown at the Berkeley Art Museum, Berkeley, CA; the Creative Alliance and School 33 Art Center, Baltimore; Mireille Mosler, Ltd., New York; Steven Wolf Fine Arts, San Francisco, CA; and Thomas Robertello Gallery, Chicago, IL. She is a 2004 MFA Graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, and attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. She was a 2008 semi-finalist for the Sondheim Prize and currently lives and works in Washington, D.C.

The Baltimore Development Cooperative

The Baltimore Development Cooperative (BDC) is an artist group with an interdisciplinary practice that uses the strategies of art, research, and activism to critically engage with urban spatial politics. Co-founded in 2005, the group has produced tours, exhibitions, workshops, and site-specific projects in public spaces. The BDC is dedicated to the analysis of neo-liberal urbanism and the invention of alternatives based on social, economic, and ecological justice in the city. The core members of BDC are Scott Berzofsky, Dane Nester, and Nicholas Wisniewski.

Outside: The BDC’s outdoor meeting space

Sondheim Artscape Prize: 2009 Finalists
June 20–August 16, 2009 Free exhibition

For current, behind-the-scenes pictures of the installation, visit the BMA’s Flickr stream.

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