Texas Artists Elevate Ordinary Materials into High-concept Works

After selecting the current trio of female artists for Artpace’s fall 2016 International Artist-in-Residence program, Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) curator Denise Markonish once again lends a curatorial hand in this fall’s Hudson Showroom exhibition. Titled “Objectives,” the exhibition brings together three distinct Texas artists, each with a focus on found objects. 

While many of the selections here have overlapping themes, perhaps most stunning is each artist’s apparent connection to nature and science. Inspired in part by the work of her husband, a molecular biologist, Galveston-based artist Kamila Szczesna presents a series of sculptures made from tennis balls. Covered in resin and flocking and perched atop display stands, the brightly colored constructions recall microscopic specimens. 

Encompassing paintings, drawings and personal belongings, artist and educator Jessica Halonen (who lives and works between San Antonio and Austin) ruminates on Prussian blue and the pigment’s accidental discovery around the year 1704. In contrast to Halonen, whose work admittedly holds a high sentimental value, Dallas artist Ryder Richards de-emphasizes the value of his materials by focusing instead on ubiquitous items such as tires and construction supplies. Expanding on commercial displays and utilitarian arrangements he’s seen installed in front of shops or at boat docks, Ryder’s tire sculptures speak to throw-away culture and its negative effects on the environment.

Easily the most conceptual work in this show is Richards’ Redaction of Labor III, which, as of opening night was nothing more than a stack of sheetrock and lumber placed in front of one of the gallery’s white walls. Over the coming months, the artist plans to use the materials to construct a wall that will cover an existing wall, essentially becoming part of — and disappearing into — the gallery. Here, in a sort of mocking manner, Richards redirects our attention to the often unseen labor invested in artwork and the often fleeting nature of its end results.

In a media preview, Richards explained his fascination with buying his art supplies at Home Depot so that “nothing is precious.” 

"This is not valuable material, it’s all just stuff,” he said. “I’m kind of interested in that cycle of how we produce, and then it gets consumed, and it goes away. Even this show, in a couple years, maybe someone will remember it ... but maybe in two months no one will remember.”

Objectives Free, Noon-5pm Wed-Sat, Artpace, 445 N. Main Ave., 212-4900, artpace.orgThrough Dec. 31