Essential Work is the collective exhibition that reunites the works of Joe Cimino, Eric Frey, Arais Meteyard, Melissa Morris, and David Neal. The exhibition presents works conceived and realized in 2020. 2020 was a year in which all of us faced uncertainties caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, requiring us to rethink important aspects of our lives. These works live in our present time, even if they are not a direct response to the Coronavirus crisis.
In this prolonged time where relations (both economical and social) and space (intended as the social sphere acquiring a more digital invasive dimension) are changing rapidly and are confronting us with new and difficult models to rethink, art is, in our opinion, becoming more and more Essential Work. In times where 'essential' jobs have been reshaping our society, we strongly think that artistic research is becoming even more important, because it faces us with a continuous radical questioning of visual and conceptual structures. Artists offer the possibility to deepen aspects of visual language that, in spite of seeming detached from the essential needs of human beings, are at the core of them. Art is an Essential Work because it poses questions that can be articulated and transformed in ordinary aspects of everyday life for all of us. Art is the symbolic realm that deeply influences everyone. In our times, increasingly dominated by a visual culture, we cannot avoid a deep reflection and critical questioning of all aspects of the visual language. And art is the essential tool with which to do it.
The show explores concepts like tension, crisis, possible balance, displacement, human destruction, the opposition of nature and digital consumption, and the definition of objects in their changing nature. All of these concepts resonate in the works of the artists: abstract paintings of collapsing grids that question the crisis of structures (Morris); readymade objects where the artist intervenes by changing the ontological status (Frey); video and photography seeking an equilibrium and portraying a silent cry for help (Cimino); drawing, photography and video that seek to find an exit strategy, observing the world from a higher or apparently distant point of view (Neal); collages and animation that play with a humanity in pieces and reflect on destruction and question our perceptions of nature (Meteyard). All the works have been born in a profound dialogue with each other, and this is visible also in the exhibition space where they find a vital and essential dimension.
- Daria Filardo, Curator and MFA in Studio Art Instructor