HANNAH BARRETT, Studio Diploma 92, LAUREL SPARKS, BFA 95, NICOLE CHERUBINI 89-90
Exquisite Corpse Project for the SMFA at Tufts, 2020
DESCRIPTION: Colored pencil and ink; colored pencil and ink; gouache, flashe, ink and graphite on 11x14.25 Lenox 90lb paper.
To be framed by Around The Corner Framing.
CURATOR STATEMENT: Like the surrealists who sought to break free of the normative, this exquisite corpse is like an alternative grade-school primer to unlearn binaries with a joyful “f*ck the patriarchy!” The effusive palette—so many distinct yellows, reds, and blues—belies the decades of critical rigor Hannah Barrett, Laurel Sparks, and Nicole Cherubini have put in to their theories on color, form, gender, and education.
Barrett has stated, “My aim is to create portraiture that deviates from the conventional male or female, and to explore the resulting pictorial and conceptual possibilities.” At top, she adorns a head with a cheerful mix of horns, fangs, goatee, frilly lashes, and flowered hair—a fusion of devilish innocence, wide-eyed knowing. Like her sophisticated paintings, she knows from illustrating the vegan and lesbian themed children’s book Nuts in Nutland, that complex ideas can be conveyed in simple terms.
Receiving just a glimpse of the pointed bottoms of hearts and bars, Sparks developed a drawing that echoes her Synthesizers series in which lined diagonals intersect at points. Assuming Barrett delivered a head, Sparks explains her section as “translating a torso into a geometric pattern. Reminds me of Klaus Nomi in a clown suit.” (Search German tenor Nomi online to see why his phenomenal stage presence wowed peers like David Bowie, even up until Nomi succumbed to AIDS at age 39.)
Receiving linear combinations of black and white, silver and gold, pink and blue, Cherubini reintroduces the hidden yellow as a centralizing force where brick and blood-toned shards intersect. For her painterly clay sculptures, Cherubini has said using shards is a way to resist “the patriarchal stance of what an object is,” the idea that “unless it’s whole, it has no value.” She described this image—in which planes of red bleed with ultramarine and wet pink dabs effuse dry blue—as “two shards as objects of change.” Overall, their collective work rewards longer looking with lesson after lesson.
--Jen Mergel (November 17, 2020)
Follow @mrhbbarrett and www.hannahbarrett.net. In 2020, she was named Director of Bard’s Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts, mounted a retrospective with Boston’s Childs Gallery, and celebrated the 10th anniversary of Soloway Gallery, as a featured artist and curator.
Follow @sparxx and www.laurelsparks.com, who is faculty in Lesley’s MFA program and whose work has recently be featured at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, Cheim and Reid, and a solo exhibitions with Kate Werble Gallery. Her 52-foot commission Quad Relay was unveiled by Knowdown Center in 2020.
Follow @nicolecherubinistudio and www.nicolecherubini.com who is faculty at RISD and whose current solo exhibition Shaking the Trees is on view at the Tang Teaching Museum. Her recent exhibition at Derek Eller Gallery garnered acclaim and exclamation in Artforum: “No single word suffices.”
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