Visiting artist and 2017 Guggenheim Fellow Paul Rucker, whose exhibition REWIND is on display in the York College Galleries until October 21, is returning by popular demand for an encore performance in DeMeester Recital Hall (beside the York College Galleries in Wolf Hall) on Saturday, October 7 at 7:00 p.m. Stories from the Trees is a multi-disciplinary performance with Paul Rucker performing a live soundtrack on cello to re-imagine vintage lynching postcards that have been animated. Based on one survey, 4,742 African Americans were murdered by lynching between 1882 and 1968. Others were lynched as well, but not nearly in the same numbers- including people of Caucasian, Chinese, Latino, and Jewish descent. This performance will bring to life the different scenarios of lynchings, places where communities gathered with women and children proudly watching these atrocities. The images will suggest those of postcards that were made from photographs of lynchings as common practice. Many of these postcards are from the personal collection of the artist, Paul Rucker and will be on view during the show. The artist will also take questions from the audience both from the stage and in person inside the gallery.
Limited edition REWIND screen prints, made in collaboration with artist/printer Adam DelMarcelle, will be available for purchase by cash and check.
2017 Guggenheim Fellow Paul Rucker will lecture in DeMeester Recital Hall in York College’s Wolf Hall at 7:00 PM on Thursday, August 31, 2017. A reception will precede the lecture beginning at 6:00 PM. During the reception, tickets will be distributed to those wishing to attend the lecture. In order to attend the lecture and exhibition, visitors must either show YCP identification or make arrangements with the artist, Paul Rucker, or gallery director, Matthew Clay-Robison. If you are interested in receiving more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Facebook event page.
The exhibition, REWIND, will run from August 31 – October 21, 2017 by appointment and will be open Monday-Friday from 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM to those with YCP ID for an initial run of September 1 – September 15.
The Summer 2017 schedule for the York College Galleries on campus are as follows:
June 8 – July 6
Mon – Thu 10:00AM – 8:00PM
Friday, July 7: 8:00 – 11:30AM
July 8 – August 30
Closed (Please visit our exhibitions downtown at Marketview Arts)
August 31 –
Resume normal business hours
Conversation with Dan Schank
By Gabriel Cutrufello, PhD
Visiting artist Dan Schank earned a BFA in Painting and Drawing from the Tyler School of Art and MFA in Painting from UC-San Diego. He has exhibited throughout the United States, most recently at Tiger Strikes Asteroid in Los Angeles and the Erie Art Museum in Erie, PA. He is a longtime friend of York College English Professor Dr. Gabriel Cutrufello and the two discussed Schank’s work in the following conversation.
GC: Can you talk a little bit about your art background (where you went to school, etc.)?
DS: I was an undergraduate at the Tyler School of Art in Philly (Temple University’s art school). I then went directly to graduate school at the University of California in San Diego. During that time, I attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (a great residency in rural Maine) in 2001 as well.
GC: One of the things I find striking about your work is the physical and visual textures you create. Can you talk about the process that you use to create your work?
DS: The easiest way to describe my process is this – I’m building collages out of my own paintings. Typically, I begin with several small sheets of paper, which are painted in great detail with gouache (a medium similar to watercolor, but more opaque). When I have enough components, usually anywhere between a dozen to four dozen pieces of paper, I begin assembling them on wood panels. I’m typically about two-thirds of the way through a painting before I begin adhering the paper to the surface. To “glue” the cut-out scraps to the panel, I take matte gel medium (basically acrylic paint without any pigment in it) and literally paint it on to the back of each sheet. The paint sticks to the surface of the panel.
Since it’s very difficult to remove a scrap of paper once it is adhered, most of my paintings need to be built from the back forward. Once something is stuck to the surface, it’s almost always there permanently.
More recently, I’ve been working on a smaller scale with watercolor and pencil rather than collage. This allows me to burn through ideas more quickly as I try to expand my visual vocabulary. But I haven’t given up on the collage stuff either.
GC: We’ve known each other for a long time, and I’ve seen your work evolve over the years. I feel like I’ve seen this progress towards a kind of fantastic of the mundane in your work. Can you talk about the images that you use and the juxtaposition in some of your work between those mundane objects and the fantastical animal-like creatures that populate some of your pieces?
DS: For about twenty years now, my work has always been about the tension between everyday life and the fantasies that circulate through it via mass media. Over time, the imagery I’ve used to convey that tension has gotten more mundane – less overtly monstrous, but with the same underlying sense of distress.
Presently, I’m fascinated with the idea of the false promise. The way that things appear when someone has promised more than they can deliver. I’m fascinated by attempts to satiate as many desires as possible at once, which can take a variety of forms in contemporary culture. About three years back, I started depicting shopping malls with this idea in mind – spaces that try to accommodate all of your material needs in one brick-and-mortar setting. In a sense, websites like Amazon have taken on this role even more effectively, which is probably one of the reasons why malls appear to be on the decline geographically. So I’m trying to fuse the language of online shopping with the language of retail architecture, while focusing on the degree to which both try to offer us everything at once.
Aesthetically, I’ve been turning to things like conspiracy organizations, religious cults, and psychedelia to establish the right mood. I can remember being a little kid and learning about aliens – the slender, wide-eyed creatures popularized in books like Communion by Whitley Strieber – and being really freaked out by them. On some level, there’s something exciting and unsettling that occurs when an explanation of our world begins to go off the rails. This brings me back to the idea of a false promise; the sense that some extraordinary explanation can remedy all of our anxieties at once. I think these explanations often feel and look a certain way. And I’m trying to make use of that feeling.
GC: Another facet of your work is repetition of images and themes. I think there are two aspects to this that interest me: 1.) The effect of the repetition on the themes of the work; 2.) The physical work that goes into creating some of these repetitions. Can you talk about how you achieve repetition in individual pieces and how you think that adds to your body of work?
DS: When I was in art school, I imagined that I’d be the kind of person who would always be trying new things in my work. That’s a great attitude to have in that setting because it keeps you open and flexible. But that hasn’t honestly been the way it’s turned out.
Coming up with iconography – imagery that is evocative enough to steer my work away from pure formalism, but not literal enough to devalue intuition – is probably my biggest challenge. I try to find visuals that convey a particular sense of place and establish a strong atmosphere, but that can also accommodate social critique to some degree. My work tends to begin with ideas more often than shapes or colors. And once I find images that work, I tend to stick with them for a long time and work with them in a variety of contexts. This can be tedious – a lot of my studio practice is pretty brainless, actually – but it also allows me to really invest in the vocabulary, which hopefully adds weight over time.
GC: As you can tell, I think your process is interesting (maybe because we used to be roommates, and I’ve seen you work). Can you talk about a course you took or a part of the craft of art that you find to be essential in your work, but you didn’t think much of at the time you were first learning it?
DS: As an undergraduate, I absolutely loathed using gouache, mostly because it was required for my foundation design courses (which I never enjoyed). So it’s kind of funny that I use so much of it now. But the more substantive answer is probably the role that film has played in my understanding of art since my mid-twenties.
I definitely think more logically and methodically about film than painting, probably because I don’t make films myself. And since my late twenties, film has become increasingly important to the way I generate ideas, especially because my paintings often have a strange, non-committal relationship to narrative. More specifically, people like the Taiwanese director Tsai Ming-Liang and the British documentarian Adam Curtis have been highly influential to me in the ways that they assess contemporary culture. It helps that over the past fifteen years or so, an explosion of really interesting international cinema has become available.
Sometimes I think it’s easier for me to draw inspiration from recent movies than from other contemporary painters, because I can set myself apart more easily from the current trends of the art world. My grad program at UCSD was interdisciplinary, and I think I really benefitted from not being exclusively surrounded by other painters.
Typically, if I’m spending a lot of time thinking about something, it will eventually seep into my work. And sometimes the freshest ideas come when I’m not thinking about other painters.
Dan Schank’s exhibition, Open Arms, runs from Friday, April 7 to Saturday, May 6 in the YCP Gallery (formerly PAE) at Marketview Arts in downtown York (37 W Philadelphia St, 17401.) There will be a reception for the artist from 5-8pm on Friday, April 7. To see his work, visit danschank.com.
#lonianderson by Matthew Best, 2014
Diary, an exhibition of 29 paintings made between 2014-2017, offers a glimpse of artist Matthew Best’s inner thoughts as his work has evolved over the last three years. Upon entering the gallery, viewers are greeted by the non-objective doppelgängers of Burt Reynolds and Loni Anderson. Titled #burtreynolds and #lonianderson respectively, the paintings, with clusters of layered triangles, represent their subjects mainly through color. The two are paired, as if in homage to their brief marriage that began while Best was in middle school and ended during his second year of college in the University of Hartford’s BFA program. Separated by Ambrosia, a larger work with similar characteristics to #lonianderson but with a wider range of color, and a comfortable distance from the drama of Burt and Loni sits #richardsimmons, a richly painted tribute to one of the artist’s favorite pop culture icons. Moving further into the space the work becomes more architectural before the invasion of election-year politics and the ominous cloud of demagoguery and fascism force their way into the artist’s psyche. Best’s response to the outcome of the election is captured by the one painting in the show that includes text. The work becomes heavier and more rigid. The imagery remains non-objective, but the titles give the viewer a sense of what the artist was feeling while making them, taking refuge in his Hartford, CT studio while trying to make sense of what was happening beyond those walls.
Diary runs from March 28 – May 6. There will be a closing reception on Friday, May 5 from 5 – 8pm.
Final Painting of the Old Order (detail) by Matthew Best, 2016
Selected Fine Art Entries (Juror: James Johnson)
Bridget Nalbone: Candid
Nick Fenn: Landscape Photo Mix
Jess Yardley: Farther from Reality
Jess Yardley: Headband
Richie Toth: Woman Portrait
Brie Dadich: Strangers’ Kids #4
Brie Dadich: Somewhere in Between
Brie Dadich: What You’ve Done to Me
Alexus DeBraganza: 1996
Alexus DeBraganza: Safari Tapestry
Amber Russell: Untitled 2
Alyssa Rankin: Untitled
Kala Enfield: Untitled I
Josh Weber: Winter Lights
Josh Weber: Life and Destruction (1 of 6)
Emily Maxwell: Mountain Scene
Maria Lenhard: Golden Ray
Darian Hoke: Flesh Study
Kristen Lee: Sea of Life
Leah Waldrop: Untitled I
Lexus Gore: Iron Peace
Heather Outwater: Equality
Rebecca Beall: Calligraphic Quote
Catherine Weaver: Gum
Colton Boyles: Woman in Chair 1A
Colton Boyles: Laundry at Midnight 2A
Noelle Becker: The Fallen
Tiara Perez: Fabric
Amber Wiesberg: Transparencies in Action
Christine Ognibene: Staying Warm
Christine Ognibene: Luna’s Sleep
Tiara Perez: Emotional
Samantha LoBue: Untitled
James O’Shea: Basket
Ivy Rodgers: Instinct
Ivy Rodgers: Topographical
Cheryl Migliarini: Landscape
Selected Graphic Design Entries (Juror: Jan Conradi)
Kristen Lee: Party Pooper
Chase Monico: The Wall
Emily Birra: Monster Alphabet
Ivy Rodgers: Netflix & Chill
Ivy Rodgers: Hold On
Douglas Shunk: Invent
Douglas Shunk: Random Eyes
Emily Maxwell: Literature Snob
Heather Outwater: Nested Native Package Design
Lauren Bupp: Penelope
Kirstyn Swancer: Dagger
Nick Labombarda: Thief
Anthony Romano: Garolfo
Rebecca Waugerman: Auldridge
Nick Gorbey: Access Granted
Lisa Courtney: Mac & Cheese
Rebecca Beall: Pedagogy & Other Terminology
Morgan Barnett: The Leaflet
Morgan Barnett: The Tagline
Christine Ognibene: Wiki Reader
Kristen Lee: Smiles
Rebecca Beall: Just Go
Nick Gorbey: Chit Chat
Heather Outwater: Day 1 of Closeness
Lexus Gore: Red Velvet & Blueberry Tarts
Josh Weber: Provoking
Josh Weber: Rise
Bridget Nalbone: Bees on Repeat
Lisa Courtney: The Cure to Stupidity
Christian Betancourt: Vote
Kerrie DeFelice: This is not U.S.
Visiting artist Hank Willis Thomas is snowed in at his studio in Brooklyn so his lecture has been postponed to next Thursday. The lecture will begin at 5:30 PM on February 16 with a reception following at 6:30 PM. If you have any questions, please contact gallery director Matthew Clay-Robison at email@example.com
She’s all tied up … in a poor system 1951/2015, Hank Willis Thomas, 2015, chromogenic print
In anthropology we discuss how culture can be social comfort because it teaches us how to survive in the world and how to live a good life. From early childhood, we learn about acceptable behaviors, collective values, and our heritage by interacting with the people around us. We also learn about material culture, which is the physical stuff a society produces like clothing, tools, buildings, toys, and art. Cultures also have non-material culture, and these are the nonphysical, the ideas, symbols, values, behaviors, languages and abstractions that shape our cultures and societies. All societies have material and non-material culture and it is the material, physical culture that is the manifestation of the non-material. For example, a country’s flag is material culture. It’s just a piece of cloth we produce. But it also represents the non-material part of that culture because it is a symbol of that country’s history and values. Art, visual media, and advertisements are also a significant part of our material culture and they too give us a clue into deciphering our nonmaterial culture.
In a globalizing world, we have come to rely heavily on the material culture of images, rather than written texts, to teach us about our world. Visual advertising has become a powerful educator in shaping culture because it is more than just selling a product. Advertising sells an idea or a value and in doing so enculturates us, or in other words, teaches us how to be “right” or “normal” in that given culture. The people in advertisements are conventionally attractive and happy-looking, and we might think, perhaps subconsciously or perhaps not, that by emulating them, or by buying the product they are selling that we too can be attractive and happy. Yet, this becomes problematic when the images used to sell the product use harmful stereotypes that reaffirm prescribed ideas about gender and race, leading to conformity and systemic bigotry and injustice. We can learn a lot about a culture from analyzing its advertisements and deducing what the nonmaterial culture or values are.
Hank Willis Thomas’ Unbranded: A Century of White Women, 1915-2015 is an excellent exercise in understanding how the media and advertising can perpetuate perceived social roles and patriarchal values in our culture. In this series, Thomas has taken advertising depictions of white women from the last 100 years and removed text and logos. When you view the images stripped of their context, pay special attention to your own reaction. Do you appreciate what you see or does it make you uncomfortable? Considering the year the image was originally made, do the implications of what you see suggest progress or regression for women in America? Question your reaction. What part of your culture helped you form it? You might also want to consider what your culture has taught you about power, beauty, gender, sexuality, constructing whiteness, and race when viewing this exhibition.
Shelly Clay-Robison teaches anthropology and conflict transformation at York College of Pennsylvania. She researches and writes on how the arts can be used as a tool for progressive social change. Read more of her work at artandconflict.com
By Shelly Clay-Robison
Sitting alone in a dark gallery, watching In Her Own Words, is an uncomfortable, discordant, and profoundly emotional experience. This video and accompanying sound art piece constitute Baltimore-based artist Paul Rucker’s exhibition 20 minutes of action in 20 yeas of life, which explores campus sexual assault and the voice of a victim, referring specifically to the Brock Turner case at Stanford University.
The piece, on view in York College’s Brossman Gallery from November 28 – December 20, invites viewers to read the victim-impact letter composed by the victim of Brock Turner’s sexual assault. The text of the letter initially appears at the bottom of the projection and then gently floats upward, like embers in a slowly building fire. But the viewer must stay focused and read quickly, as line by line, the text dissipates to the top, ultimately re-joining to create a final image of Brock Turner’s mug shot. You must stay present and alert if you want to read the text before it disappears. And you must focus and be patient to witness the powerful conclusion. Too often, in discussions of rape, we want to turn away instead.
In 2015, Brock Turner raped an unconscious woman behind a dumpster. He was convicted and faced a possible 14 years in prison for his crimes. Yet Judge Aaron Persky sentenced Turner to only 6 months of prison while the news media continued to focus on Turner’s prowess as a competitive swimmer at a top-notch school. Many were outraged by the pitiful length of the sentence and news coverage, seeing them as another contribution to a culture of rape and normalization of violence against women.
Recently, while holiday shopping in a cozy shop full of handmade goods, “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” came on the radio. This popular winter holiday song was written in 1944 and has come under criticism in recent years for its lyrics that suggest unrelenting pressure for the woman in the duet to stay overnight at the home of the male singer despite her consistent refusal. It might be “just a song,” but it’s a part of our culture and culture teaches us what is right and wrong. This kind of culture is also bolstered when people like U.S. Representative Todd Akin discusses rape as something “God intended to happen,” or uses terms like “legitimate rape,” to suggest that some sexual assault was desired. There is popular music with men singing to women, “you know you want it,” or “Couple more shots you open up like a book,” suggesting that woman are responsible for being rape victims. And then there is the President-elect Donald Trump who says things about women like, “You have to treat them like shit,” or “You can grab them by the pussy…You can do anything.”
These examples are what contribute to a culture of rape. Rape culture is the expressions, norms, and behaviors associated with how we collectively consider rape and sexual assault. It involves victim blaming, slut-shaming, trivializing rape allegations, and sexual objectification. What compounds the problem is that media, politicians, and music normalize these behaviors and thus makes them acceptable. But rape is uncomfortable to talk about and we’d rather sanitize it by calling it “sexual misconduct.” Rucker’s video encourages us to sit with the discomfort and the painful truth. If we want to change this culture, we must be willing to unveil and focus on the misogynistic elements of culture and not discount rape as just “20 minutes of action.”
Shelly Clay-Robison is an adjunct lecturer at York College of Pennsylvania where she teaches international conflict analysis and resolution and anthropology. She also researches and writes on how the arts can be used as a tool for progressive social change.