The 21st century is marked by a dramatic shift in the way humanity relates to the natural world, ranging from the emergent effects of global climate change to an increase in transnational immigration. National borders are being redrawn and walls are being built. Huge tracts of land are being transformed by over-farming, strip-mining, and massive building developments. Each sliver of physical land is now something to be photographed, Instagrammed, mapped, digitized, owned, and appropriated. Identity is inscribed in all space, artificial and natural, virtual and real. Site—while seemingly indicative of actual place—is succumbing to the delocalizing influences of an increasingly globalized, interconnected world.
As an art historical genre, landscape is experiencing a quiet yet meaningful resurgence as an active site of exploration for emerging and established artists alike. This exhibition showcases the work of five young female artists—Beverly Acha, Brooke Frank, Renee Lai, Marta Lee, and Iliana Ortega. While owing a debt to historical genres, their work is difficult to categorize and wholly contemporary, addressing the aesthetic, social, and political concerns of a creative generation in the second decade of the 21st century. Among these works, the interplay between material and formal characteristics, between our nostalgia for the unspoiled landscape and its current condition, is as rich as it is varied. These works quietly transcend conceptual and generic definitions typically drawn by critics, while unspooling the myriad ties between art, nature, and the built environment, including the “white cube” of the gallery itself.
This exhibition is organized by Gilles Heno-Coe, Ph.D. candidate in Art History, in collaboration with the artists. It is supported by Center Space Project.
Beverly Acha (b. Miami, FL) received her BA from Williams College and an MFA from Yale University. She has had solo shows at Underdonk in Brooklyn, NY and the Roswell Museum and Art Center in Roswell, NM. She has been included in group exhibitions at Wassaic Project, Wassaic, NY, Benaco Arte, Sirmione, Italy, LeRoy Neiman Gallery, NY, NY, and El Museo del Barrio, NY, NY. Acha’s residencies and awards include Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (2018), Lighthouse Works Fellowship (2017), Wassaic Project Residency (2017), Roswell Artist-in-Residence Program (2016- 17), and Robert Schoelkopf Memorial Travel Grant (2011). Acha is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor in Studio Art at Oberlin College.
Brooke Frank (b. Myrtle Beach, SC) was raised and attended college in South Florida before moving to Austin, TX, where she is an MFA candidate in Painting at The University of Texas at Austin. She has completed artist residencies at IS Projects (FL, 2016), Art Farm (NE, 2016) and the Jaffe Center for Book Arts (FL, 2016), as well as the Arts Administration Fellowship at the Girls’ Club Collection in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. She is also a collaborator in the art-writing collective The Cabbage Palm.
Renee Lai (b. 1992, Los Angeles, CA) is an artist living in Austin, Texas. She is a MFA candidate at UT Austin in Studio Art, concentrating in painting. She studied at Dartmouth College, where she graduated with honors in Studio Art and English. She has exhibited in New York City, Austin, TX, and Hanover, NH.
Marta Lee (b. 1992, Moscow, ID) grew up in Pullman, Washington and received her BFA in Studio Art at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and her MFA in painting from the University of Texas at Austin. Her work juggles logic and intuition within a stubborn commitment to painting, music, and the space between ourselves and others. In 2017, she was an exchange fellow at the Royal College of Art in London and a fellow at the Fire Island Artist Residency on Long Island, NY. She has had solo exhibitions in New York City, Knoxville, TN, and Austin, TX.
Iliana Ortega (b. 1981, Mexico) is an international visual artist based in New York City. She holds a BFA from Guanajuato University and an MFA from Yale University. She explores the uncanny and mysterious in her work, often combining diverse media including photography, painting, drawing, and site-specific installation. She has exhibited internationally, including exhibitions at the Gene Byron Museum, Guanajuato Mexico, Higher Pictures Gallery, New York, NY; Interstate projects, Brooklyn NY; Vasconcelos Library, Mexico City; Diego Rivera Museum, Mexico City; Kunsthaus Santa Fé, San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato Mexico; Glass Museum, Monterrey, N.L., among others. Ortega has received awards and fellowships from the National System of Artistic Creators FONCA, the Diego Rivera XIII National Biennial, and the Edward F. Albee Foundation in Montauk, NY.
ABOUT THE CURATOR
Gilles Heno-Coe (b. 1986, Pittsfield, MA) received his BA from Williams College and his MA in art history from the University of Texas at Austin, where he is currently pursuing his PhD in modern and contemporary art history. He was previously an associate director at Matthew Marks Gallery in New York, where he helped organize retrospective exhibitions on artists including Brice Marden, Albert York, and Michel Majerus. His research interests include abstract painting and sculpture, the intersection of art theory and practice, connoisseurship and the art market, and artistic techniques and materials. He has published essays on the work of artists including Jasper Johns, Ellsworth Kelly, and others.