A Handful of Dust

Mark Hagen, Jay Heikes, Matt Hoyt, Erin Shirreff, Ricky Swallow, Zin Taylor, and Allyson Vieira

The notion of “prehistory”—as evidenced in material remains and artifacts—compels us to explore crucial connections between an innate desire to make and to hold, and the social values that determine what humans create and why. A Handful of Dust brings together a group of artists who utilize sculpture to craft a material vernacular at once ancient and contemporary. Recalling those postwar artists whose three-dimensional practices relied on a discreet, visual language—the haunting white forms of Cy Twombly; Eva Hesse’s small, raw material experiments; or the slender totemic Personages by Louise Bourgeois—a young generation of artists now fashions relics for our contemporary moment. In this exhibition, spare, complex constructions made of wood, plaster, stone, and bronze, or captured on the page or on film, evoke archaic artifacts rooted to the earth, reaching back to the past, and firmly securing the place of the object and its capacity to communicate, in the present.

While the ready-made, the appropriated, and the fabricated object have become so pervasive in contemporary art that they no longer challenge, but instead define a prevailing approach to sculptural practice, the artists featured in this exhibition are instead deeply invested in the organic and the handmade, and how the most fundamental plastic materials and forms can be imbued with the strata of time. Representing a range of media and processes, these artists closely consider themes of timelessness and dissociation, archeology and collecting, communication, and the complex yet transformative power and voice of even the most elemental sculptural tool. At once invoking and fracturing the familiar tropes of landscape, artifact, model, and monument, these objects—fragile, mutable, and potent—beg the most intimate visual encounters while summoning our human desire to behold what the hand can shape.

Artists in the exhibition include Mark Hagen, Jay Heikes, Matt Hoyt, Erin Shirreff, Ricky Swallow, Zin Taylor, and Allyson Vieira.

Special Thanks to:

The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, New York, NY;Casa Magazine, Santa Barbara, CA; The James Irvine Foundation, San Francisco, CA; Santa Barbara Independent, CA;Santa Barbara News-Press, CA; and Wayne McCall & Associates, Santa Barbara, CA.

[Press Release]

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