Partial Inventory is about vessels, the depiction of them in books and printed media, and the presentation of them in museum settings. I create vessels that hover between two and three dimensions, that have decorative embellishments cobbled from a variety of sources. I’m making provisional artifacts and relics, artifacts that undermine their own authority. A taped-on image from an old art textbook works as a stand in for underglaze. Construction materials vary: slab-rolled clay, masking tape, salvaged wood, paper. The vessels range from functional to ephemeral: solidly constructed, taped together, propped against a crutch or scaffold, holding their own. They make a show of their thingness, they are transparent as to material and process. They are my own archive and archaeology, incorporating materials gathered throughout the course of my day: my walks around the neighborhood, the scraps and remnants generated by my art students, the dumpsters in my studio building, the artists I interact with.
While on residency at the Joan Mitchell Center in New Orleans, I gathered scraps and studio detritus from fellow residents, and from artists connected to Staple Goods gallery (also in New Orleans). I created clay vessels on site at Birdie’s pottery studio on St. Claude. After a month-long residency, I made an installation at Staple Goods connected to themes of still lifes and tableaux, using reclaimed materials to make tables and platforms, and ceramic and fabric vessels to explore still life compositions.
This installation is the result of a month of gathering, making, and talking with fellow residents at the Joan Mitchell Center and Staple Goods Gallery. Many thanks to Aaron Collier, Caleb Taylor, Norah Lovell, Devin Reynolds, Miro Hoffman, Beth Krebs, and Alex Unthank for letting me raid their studios and reclaim/transform the remnants that I found in them.
On January 1st, 2018, I set out to make a vase every day of the year. The vase could be a traditional 3D clay vessel, a sculptural simulacrum of a vase made from fabric construction, a collage made from images found in discarded design magazines and art books, a painting, a drawing – the only requirement was that the daily piece incorporate a vase in some form.The daily vase experiments are often composed from remnants culled from other artist’s studios, the street, from my daily life. These materials are combined to heighten connection. Using vessels as a unifying theme, I explore classical and ancient forms, and connect to the history of archiving, collection and classification.
They are listed for sale in the “shop” category of my website.
days 130, 131, 132
For the solo show I produced while I was a fellow at A.I.R. Gallery, I ran a thirty day artmaking challenge with the nationwide and local members of the gallery. Each day I emailed them a prompt and they had until the next day to make the work. The installation was created by gathering objects from the participating artists, and creating my own work in response to theirs.
Collected Works: A Brief History of Artists Alliance, Inc.
Collected Works: A Brief History of Artists Alliance Inc.is an installation by LES Studio Program resident Alison Owen and curated by Sanna Almajedi. Collected Works is an imprint of The Clemente building on 107 Suffolk St. created through Artist Alliance Inc. archive, and the residue of its artists-in-residence. Artist Alison Owen tells her own story of what AAI is in an investigative installation situated at the Cuchifritos Gallery. The installation consists of the remnants and ephemera of current and former residents’ creative projects, as well as dust, paint chips, and other materials collected from the stairwells and studios, creating an impression of what it means to work within AAI’s community. The Clemente has been occupied by artists since the 80s; Owen herself has been an artist-in-residence there since October 2016 through AAI’s LES Studio Program.
-Jodi Waynberg, director of AAI
Housework, 309 Edgecombe Avenue
Tracey Goodman and I have been friends for more than a dozen years. We met in the Bronx Museum’s Artists-in-the-Marketplace program, we’ve been in shows together, and once we shared a studio space. Our lives are woven together in many other more quotidian ways besides. Being in her apartment studying and making responses to the space (always on days when she was at work) felt like a strange yet inevitable extension of our friendship.
Her home seems to be a thing that has grown up around her organically. There is a decorative logic that is the result of years of following a specific art practice and aesthetic path. Her colors are subtly different from the ones I’d choose: I’m also a big fan of pink and blue, for example, but she favors cool shades while I favor warm. Everything: from the clothes she wears, to the art she makes, to the space she lives in, feels like an extension of her personality. It’s an expansive and generous mix that includes her grandma’s knickknacks, vintage 1980s dresses, books of feminist theory and poetry, her friends’ artwork, her overweight cat Tulip, and some pretty amazing mid century furniture (mostly found on the cheap and revamped).
I tracked and recorded. I traced the way light moved across her wall over the course of the day, using masking tape and thread as a marker. I brought out my Coloraid paper and created palettes that matched the things I especially loved. I made little paintings of the patterns of some dresses and textiles, like a handmade swatch book. Her bathroom had a strangely tiled floor: over the years new and different tiles were inlaid to replace broken ones. Into this floor I pressed clay, creating slabs that I then used to make vessels and plaques.
And the books. One thing I love about borrowing books from Tracey is that she is a prolific underliner and marginalia-maker. Before I started the installation, in response to her fascination with indigo (which has made its way into several of her projects), I had recommended the book Bluets by Maggie Nelson. I found a copy in her house, all marked up. I read it through again (it’s a book I read often, I’d recommend it to you, too, most likely). I compared the way that we read the book. How could you miss that phrase?! I’d think when I read a favorite part that she hadn’t underlined. Or I’d read her margin note and suddenly see something I hadn’t noticed before, see it from her point of view. I created a hand-typed, bound copy for her of just her underlined parts, floating around on the page in relation to where they were in the original text.
We planned a joint opening/housewarming party. A bunch of friends came over. We talked about how her the little apartment was, how happy we were to be in it like this, all together. Everyone got to wander around studying things up close, under the guise of checking out the installation.
Tracey said she lived with my readjustments for a long time, but eventually she had to move all the books back to the bookshelf, from where I’d clustered them on a credenza to frame/echo a painting that was hung above it. She needed her books for reference and for lending, and my system was too different from hers. Fair enough.
The installation in the Johnson Gallery at Bethel University features studio detritus from Bethel’s art faculty members’ art-making processes, collected during studio visits.
Species of Spaces
In my installations, I respond to the proportions and history of the space, often working with archives, collections, and materials found on site. Species of Spaces incorporates objects from artists who have shown at Smack Mellon, or have had studios there.
I thought of Smack Mellon as a type of archive, and have gathered/presented objects, ephemera, extra materials, artwork, sketches, and books from the abovementioned artists. I visited artists at their studios and took notes, photographs, talked, explored. Over the course of the conversation, some object would stand out to me, and I would request it for my installation. The process was very organic and intuitive: a book might stand out to me because I had a conversation about it in a different artist’s studio a week before, a quilt square might look similar to the die-cut stamp I had selected from someone else. All of these objects were significant to the artists I met with, but weren’t usually something that the artist would display in their own shows. I brought these objects back to my studio, and created new taxonomies based on the ways that they related to each other. Into this archive I inserted my own work, in the form of material interventions, found objects, drawings, and paintings. This project has been like a long conversation, starting and stopping and starting again in different people’s studios. There is a huge variety of working methods, studio organization methods, and subjects to study, but there are also points of overlap, and I am interested in this overlap, the recurrence of materials and methods.
The shelving is made of wood salvaged from around the city, often found in the dumpsters or hallways outside the studios of the artists I visited. I based the framework for the shelving on the row of windows on the facing wall, matching shelf to windowpane. Objects are placed from floor level to far overhead, some are only visible with the use of binoculars, while others can be studied up close. My own work and the work of other artists weave together in a sort of conversation, but can be identified by studying the hand-drawn inventory book and the installation notes.
An installation using objects from the collection of Albright College, augmented, reframed, and expanded by materials from the storage room, utility closets, and campus.
“Alison Owen’s works embellish and punctuate the subtle details in a space. She gathers dust and debris from the exhibition venue for use in sprawling wallpaper installations. For her installation in the Bell Gallery, she takes as her starting point the distinctive grid-filled architecture of the List Art Center (designed by Philip Johnson). She also draws on the details of the rare manuscripts on view in the the Hay LIbrary Centennial exhibition (in the adjacent gallery), which resonates with her ornate, hand-made aesthetic.”