Home Bodies brings together the work of artists Fawn Krieger and David B. Smith. Krieger and Smith layer, collide, and collapse physical materials and visual forms to reimagine ceramics and textiles, respectively.
This exhibition was conceived in a global viral pandemic during which the concept and context of the home became a site for reinvention. Confined largely to our living spaces, many of us felt physically and emotionally isolated, and the home became as much a site of entrapment as one of refuge. Home can have many meanings. Krieger and Smith consider the idea of home as our physical environments, interior lives and imaginations, and our own bodies. Here, home is a place of care and freedom, a place to dream and create.
The work draws us in with its playful use of materials. Looking closer, we can see how both artists have created visual languages that are experimental and improvised yet also familiar and soothing as a result of their repetitive and meditative nature.
As we look, our bodies react. Krieger’s ceramic forms, which are pressed firmly into concrete that oozes and wraps around it like mud squishing up between bare toes, make my mouth itch, and my lips purse involuntarily. The concrete acts as negative space but also as a binder, a home where shapes are gathered and held.
While the softness and domesticity of Smith’s fiber works are comforting, the frenetic energy of the patterns and layered forms keeps the eye moving between areas of density and transparency. The work is restless and somehow manages to be thick and thin at the same time. Its tactility invites the touch–indeed, sparks a desperate desire to touch.
Both artists explore ideas of attachment and accumulation as they develop and layer pattern and form. The work is additive and purposely crowded, and yet both artists also drill down and get to a core of some sort, revealing an interiority that relies on a kind of removal or paring back. The physical spaces they create are filled with life and its chaos and clamor. The need for quietness and solitude that is also expressed in the work is a direct reaction to this cacophony. Krieger and Smith are finding home outside and inside themselves and exploring its contradictions.
Taking the idea of paring back or excavation even further, Krieger’s works often take on the characteristics of an archaeological site, where layers of earth have been scraped and brushed away to reveal forms that call to mind vessels, domestic artifacts, furniture, or a decadent TV dinner. Smith’s works incorporate textiles printed and woven with personal and collective imagery that urges us to search for their source. As we try to make our way to the center of the work, the volume and softness push us back, while transparent layers and small areas of negative space draw us deeper down.
The work in Home Bodies is so many things at once, just as the idea of home can be. It is dynamic and generative. It is personal and felt deeply in the body. Krieger and Smith continually push themselves and their materials to discover new ways of making and discovering meaning. Their work is an offering to us, and to themselves—a celebration of creative labor and all the joy, frustration, and possibility that it entails.
— Sarah Freeman, curator