School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University
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SMFA Art Sale

Mon, Nov 9, 2020 09:00AM EST - Mon, Nov 23, 2020 08:00PM EST
Lot 25


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NATHAN CARTER, BFA 95, Studio Diploma 96, Fifth Year Certificate 97

Exquisite Corpse Project for the SMFA at Tufts: Powerful/Impact/Boom, 2020

Price: $3000

DESCRIPTION: Ink and graphite on collaged 11x17 Bristol paper. Signed on verso

To be framed by Around The Corner Framing.


Since they met at the SMFA over 25 years ago, Los Angeles-based couple Jedediah Caesar and Kate Costello and Brooklyn-based Nathan Carter have remained close despite the distance and decades. To create an exquisite corpse that would reflect their unique relationship since the 1990s, they chose to assemble a mix tape of sorts, literally splicing together parts of separate drawings they agreed in advance to make in ink along set coordinates. The resulting collage reflects a call-and-response between their distinct yet parallel interests in forms and voids, sliding and colliding in unexpected rhythms.

At top is Caesar’s image of a curly head, eyes just peering out at the dark from deep within a funnel. For him, the bursting figure could evoke the mounting anticipation of “the 2021 New Year’s baby, or maybe just every single person waiting to see what next week brings!” Below, the contours of the funnel widen as Carter’s biomorphic tangle of lyrical looping lines fill with pools of thinner pigment, suggesting spring showered leaves. Their quieter dripping forms align into Costello’s bolts at bottom, crackling outward from a central beam.

Carter describes their piece as evidence of “their shared interest in Thunder and Lightning music,” which explains the title Powerful/Impact/Boom, a “line lifted from Busta Rhymes’ verse in Tribe Called Quest’s song Scenario.” In fact, the fuller verse about rapping in sequence with Charlie Brown and Dinco D perfectly captures how an exquisite corpse stimulates a mind to react to fellow creatives:
“So here's Busta Rhymes with the scenario
Watch, as I combine all the juice from the mind
Heel up, wheel up, bring it back, come rewind
Powerful impact, boom! From the cannon
Not bragging, try to read my mind just imagine
Vocabulary's necessary
When digging into my library”
What Caesar, Carter and Costello offer us here captures the bold soundtrack, not only of their friendship since the mid 1990s, but also the surreal din of now, as we rally ourselves for 2021 to ask:
“Here we go, yo, here we go, yo
So what, so what, so what's the scenario?”

--Jen Mergel (November 11, 2020)

Follow @caseras_plaace whose solo museum commissions include those at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston and deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum. He is 2020 recipient of a City of Los Angeles COLA Individual Artist Grant with a 2021 publication/exhibition forthcoming.

Follow @hellobrooklyn who is represented by Casey Kaplan Gallery in New York and is currently working toward a solo exhibition at Esther Schipper Gallery in Berlin in 2022.

Follow @kmlcostello and whose 2020 solo exhibition Tip of the Tongue was presented by Tufts University Art Galleries. Forthcoming this winter is a feature essay by Gloria Sutton in XTRA magazine.
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