Through the convergence of virtuality and hyperreality, fabricated identities are groomed for the consumption of recontextualized narratives as ultimate truths. Profiled for advertisement, friendship, and detention, personal branding allows for everyone with a device and connection to exist as icons. Marginalization of the occupied and occupation of the marginalized is essential to the automation of programmed existences. The guiding hand of ‘database normalization’ compartmentalizes identities for redistribution through the choreography of aggregated economies. Prisons, detention centers and luxury townhomes compete for occupancy as the systems that produce them cross borders real and virtual; dividing, fragmenting and assuming identities for consumption and production.
– Alex Tu
The major exhibition, Degrees of Separation, is homage to locally grown internationally recognized artist Mel Chin. This exhibition includes the works of Wayne Gilbert, Mike Hollis, Mary Jenewein, Sin Huellas (Without Fingerprints)(a collective including Carlos Carrasco, Selene Cortez, Brenda Cruz-Wolf, Orlando Lara, Delilah Montoya, Hope Sanford, and Deyadira Trevino dealing with border issues), and EMPIRE. In conjunction with Degrees of Separation, the Contemporary Art Museum Houston, the Blaffer Art Museum, and Asia Society Texas, presenting works from REMATCH, a comprehensive survey of Mel Chin’s artwork.
Mel Chin’s work Degrees of Paradise, a hand woven carpet with patterns based on satellite telemetry is juxtaposed with video monitors of active 3-D mathematically derived cloud patterns and installed in the ceiling of two triangular rooms, highlighting new and old digital traditions. Originally installed in 1992 at the Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York City, then exhibited at The Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philadelphia, The New Orleans Museum of Art and is being shown for the first time in Texas at The Station Museum.
Wayne Gilbert is an extremely versatile artist who has created a novel approach to the process of making art from the vantage point of the narrow line between life and death. The material from which he creates his pigments is the unclaimed ashes of the dead that he collects from mortuaries. The result is his strangely beautiful and powerfully charged works of art that communicate solemn pieties and spiritual emotions. In several of the major works, Gilbert is able to express a certain ageless beauty like that of flowers at their moment of full bloom or of hands expressing a life force that is ebbing and grasping at the same time.
Mike Hollis has not only mastered the approach to Contemporary Art based on the corporate aesthetic but he has also found ways to subvert it by giving each work a radical new meaning by imbuing it with emotion. For many years, Hollis experimented wildly at the same time as he honed his talent. His work was rarely exhibited. Nevertheless, he has persevered with very little support but with extraordinary results. His exhibition is, I believe, the first time that a Texas artist has taken on an approach to art, only slowly being assimilated in the major centers of the global art establishment. Degrees of Separation, indeed.
Mary Jenewein was born in Savannah, Georgia to a Korean father and a Caucasian mother during a time when anti-miscegenation laws were widely accepted. Although her parents never separated their marriage was considered illegitimate until they moved to Texas many years later. After her father was taken away to a concentration camp for two weeks, she became acutely aware of the inequity of her position as a biracial woman in the Deep South. Her exclusion from various social situations while growing up due to her mixed race heritage bred a sense of empathy for outsiders and people on the periphery. This led her to pursue a degree at the University of North Carolina in political science. She studied fine art at the University of Houston’s Lawndale art center under the guidance of James Surls and John Alexander.
The border between Texas and Mexico has become a savage place where the poor of Mexico and Central America attempt to enter the United States in order to find work and protection for their families. Several months ago, we learned that there were over fifty-three thousand mothers and their children who had come to the US to escape the vicious drug and gang violence in Central America. The story was quickly dropped. What happened to the children? Sin Huellas(Without Fingerprints) is a Texas and Mexican collective that, in their words, “makes the effort to peer into the things that we cannot see, to listen into conversations that we cannot record, to draw the tableaus that would rip our souls if we were forced to experience them.”
The Station Museum of Contemporary Art is an exhibition forum for local, national, and international artists, with an emphasis on fine arts that reflects the cultural diversity of Houston’s communities. Art plays a critical role in society as an agent of creativity and civil discourse as well as a resource that deepens and broadens public awareness of the cultural, political, economic, and personal dimensions of freedom of speech and freedom of expression. The Station Museum is an activist institution supporting civil society issues and artists who engage in social, political, aesthetic, economic, and/or spiritual content and expressions.