Protection / Projection
by Anna Marie Shogren
To gray rock is to become emotionally unresponsive in the presence of a manipulative, abusive, narcissistic individual. The advice also comes tangibly; hold a small, unremarkable stone near as a reminder of non-reactivity. Be as boring as a gray rock and you will gain the space to be your effing dazzling self again. People often pick up stones to carry, for various reasons; another idea is to find something unique or eye-catching in order to form, later to conjure, clear memory of a moment, the object adopting the experience and carrying it forward in time. Winter into Spring 2022. The five untitled stoneware sculptures from Erin Smith, glossy and brightly colored, irregularly shaped rock forms that stand precariously on top of gallery plinths, echo this rock elevation. They are large pieces that balance vulnerably on small velvet cushions, donuts, bean bag chairs. I was impressed to learn that these cushions were not used to obscure a flat surface for certain steadiness. Conspicuously styled, boldly spotted with purple gloss and gold leaf, but reverentially true to life, they stood unguarded through the opening event’s boxed wine, distraction, and freezing rain; they are calm, in a room where audiences may comprehend permission to interpret and act according to the rules of art. Which are? Smith’s sculptures could be a portal to an ideal vacation or an emotional destination in itself.
More privately situated, around the corner, Maiya Lee Hartman’s Labor of Love: Protective Style Throne, gloriously lights up the back room. Regardless of social codes, private space offers more or way less safety and security; there this sculpture demonstrates the significant work of protection multifold: the protection of Black hair and of ancestral tradition, the protective soundness of love and care, both physical and emotional, passed on to Black children through the act of hair braiding, and through a protective request within an artist statement checking white audiences’ behavior. The piece is an elaborately woven peacock chair, made largely from the artist’s own long braids. The seat is a star, a platform for admiration, desirable and functionally sturdy. It is a set that describes a scene of familial love, a nest to ready young for flight. Opening spaces of light pop from the shadowed pattern cast on the floor. Porousness and intimacy is never owed to anyone, and the energy taken to patiently remind erroneously assured art seekers of this, on top of the labor evident in the construction, is a kindness. Rules may be for breaking, but a boundary is crucially not a rule. An effort taken to create a boundary is an act of love. And, self love is the crowning love.
A group show lends an undeniable urge to see relationship and force unintentional collaboration. Similarities in form and concept are noted between work from artists with maybe distally related experiences and conceptual quandaries. Art assists in processing life experience for the artist as well as the viewer. Compartmentalization is a challenge and often serves as a way to remain (or keep) thought shallow and disengaged. So, please forgive my coagulated meaning making. And, of course, my reading and this writing says more about me anyhow, to very loosely quote Emily Gastineau “quoting some Freud bullshit” at her recent Red Eye Theater production Generic Minneapolis.
Basement steps generically evoke childish tentatively, though, in the lower level, Hannah Lee Hall’s tactile paintings invite with layers of aquarium gravel, sand, paper pulp, like looping farm furrows, just recently paused beneath painted curves. Thresher and Spinner. Warm and wet blood flowing and weaving through internal spaces. Looking like patterns similar to the hotwheels tracks in landscapes of Kinetic Sand at my home, an occupation for dissociation. I suspect I’ve mentioned kids too many times now to please certain art audiences.
The loops pull tighter in the furthest corner of the room. John Fleischer’s drawings in marking crayon overlap and delete rounded figures in social groupings. Cognitive Trap, Honey Trap, and Shield circle a bulbous sculptural form on an industrial-style wooden platform. LMLF (Slouch) is made from natural and unnatural found sources; disposable protective clothing, misused or reused, bundled lint and peach pits are twisted into shapes that struggle to stand on unfamiliar legs. I think of slow digestion, the nervous system stopped in finding the rest and digest term in the cycle, the snake swallowing the hat, as well as, his nest and his PPE.
Surfacing again, Sarah Nicole’s paintings surround the sculptures in the front space. Ascending / Descending 01-04 are full wall paintings, wide lines curve in variegated neutral tones, elegant. They read to me like large scale details of sin and cosine waves, rippling out and peacefully interrupted by the skywriting of a plane or a boat cutting nearly parallel to the shore. A close in look at the exhausted point of healing when you aren’t sure if you are moving forward or backward, up or down. Is what you face overwhelming or beautiful? It just is. And maybe, standing there, you can envision these pieces hanging in your future million dollar home, and in your million dollar home, and in your million dollar home, and your million dollar home…
Anna Marie Shogren is a dance artist connected to caregiving, social dance, and touch, researching this work recently as an Art and Health Resident at the Weisman Art Museum, working in collaboration with the UMN School of Nursing, and continuing for an exhibition at the Rochester Art Center in fall of 2022. She makes experiential and dance-based installation for public and visual art spaces. She has presented work largely in Minneapolis and New York and has performed in the work of Goshka Macuga, Emilie Pitoiset, Body Cartography Project, Yanira Castro, Hijack, Morgan Thorson, Kaz K Sherman, Faye Driscoll, Laurie Van Wieren. She is invested in care work and health justice as a memory care worker, a single mother, hospice CNA, and a fledgling death doula. Her practice is extended as a writer with MNartists, NY Arts Magazine, and artist-run publications.
Erin Smith is a multidisciplinary artist with a focus in clay. Her practice relies heavily on process and exploration through tool making and material play. Erin earned a BFA in product design from Parsons School of Design and an MFA from NYS College of Ceramics at Alfred University.
Erin Smith shows with HAIR+NAILS: “LIVE NOODS” (2017), “Lost and Found” (2019), “RIGHT NOW” group show (2020-1), “The Human Scale” at Rochester Art Center (2021).
MAIYA LEA HARTMAN:
Maiya Lea Hartman is a Painter and Mixed-media artist living and working in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Maiya’s practice draws from personal memories and moments that examine identity, expression, and the body through the lens of a Queer, Black, Non-binary person. Their practice is intimate, touching on the innocence of childhood and examining the pressures of gender performativity through family portraits and self-portraiture. The memories and feelings they draw from are recontextualized by placing the figures in undefined landscapes, allowing their body language and facial expressions to communicate messages. Maiya explores ancestral influences by using mixed-media materials such as braiding hair, fabric, and hand-carved Adinkra symbols. The use of such materials paying homage to the weight and history they hold in African-American identities as traditions we have held onto from our African Ancestors. Maiya currently holds a studio space in PF Studio #285 in the Northrup King Building. They were part of the initial cohort of artists in Studio400, a studio program for emerging artists formed in 2019 by Leslie Barlow and Public Functionary. Since the summer, they have created several public art projects in collaboration with Creatives After Curfew, a collective creating public art that visions a future rooted in Justice, Unity, and Liberation for BIPOC.
Maiya Lea Hartman has shown with HAIR+NAILS in “The Human Scale” at Rochester Art Center (2021) and will exhibit a solo show in the gallery in spring 2023.
HANNAH LEE HALL:
Hannah Lee Hall lives and works in St. Paul, MN. She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts with a concentration in painting from the Rhode Island School of Art and Design (RISD) in 2010.
Hannah Lee Hall’s art was previously at HAIR+NAILS as part of ISLAND QUEEN SATAN FLOWER’s summer show in 2019.
John Fleischer has presented projects at venues such as the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts (Grand Rapids, MI), Kunstverein Grafschaft Bentheim (Neuenhaus, Germany), the Rochester Art Center (Rochester, MN), Hair + Nails (Minneapolis, MN), Staatliche Akademie der Bildenden Künste Karlsruhe (Karlsruhe, Germany), Bielefelder Kunstverein (Bielefeld, Germany), and the Soap Factory (Minneapolis, MN). Fleischer holds an MFA from the University of Minnesota and is a recipient of the Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant. He lives and works in Minneapolis, MN.
John Fleischer was a part of the “HAIR+NAILS at 9 Herkimer” group show in Brooklyn (2018) and the “FUTURE FUTURE” group show in 2020 and will exhibit a solo show in the gallery in 2024.
Sarah Nicole lives and works in the Twin Cities. She received a BFA from the Minneapolis College of Art & Design (MCAD). She has exhibited her work at Miami Art Week with Good To Know, at Sure Space Gallery, Lanesboro Gallery, and Waiting Room Gallery. Her work is in the permanent collection of the Wasserman Projects.
This is Sarah Nicole’s first HAIR+NAILS show.