For the inaugural edition of EXPO Chicago Online, Gaa Gallery will present recent works by Wilder Alison, Hipkiss, Anina Major, and Erin Woodbrey. Through divergent art practices and conceptual frameworks, these artists embrace the malleability of meaning and material to produce work concerning language, nature, and the environment.
Wilder Alison (b. 1986, Burlington, VT) is an interdisciplinary artist and a graduate of the Bard MFA Painting program. In recent years, Alison has exhibited work with Gordon-Robichaux, Rachel Uffner, CUE Foundation, 247365, Primetime, and Garden Party Arts, among others. Recent solo shows include Slit Subjects at White Columns (New York), $PLIT $UBJECT at Marlboro College (Vermont), and new wools at the Hudson D. Walker Gallery in Provincetown, MA. Alison was a fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in 2016-17 and 2018-19, and has also participated in residencies at Triangle France-Astérides, Lighthouse Works, Fire Island Artist Residency, and Lower East Side Printshop. Alison performs in collaboration with psychoanalyst and musician Monroe Street as N0 ST0NES, with recent engagements at SUBLIMATION Projects, H0L0 NYC, CUE Foundation, and LaKAJE in New York. Alison will be a fellow at Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart in 2022.
Alison’s work is driven by the limitations of language to accommodate and build analog forms for transness, queerness, and self-embodiment. To produce the work featured at EXPO CHGO ONLINE Alison begins by cutting and pigmenting wool blankets which are then stitched together to form a whole comprised of diagonal lines and swaths of color. These vivid abstractions are inspired by the 1973 novel, The Lesbian Body by French theorist Monique Wittig. Mirroring Wittig’s radical use of slashes, Alison creates visual constructions that excavate language and mirror lived experience rather than reinforce a hierarchical understanding of knowledge and communication.
Alpha and Chris Mason (b. 1964, United Kingdom) met at the age of eighteen and very quickly became fused by their shared interests and creative aspirations. With two artistic elements – Chris a draughtsperson and Alpha principally a writer – they chose the pseudonym ‘Hipkiss’ (originally ‘Chris Hipkiss’), in 1991, for their visual output. Since that time, they have lived and worked in the same studio space, first in their native England and, from 2001, in the south of France.
The identity of an artist is typically viewed in a fairly simple fashion: it is that of the individual who conceives the ideas for, and then creates, his or her works. In contrast with a filmmaker, the artist is seen as a solitary figure, frequently alone in their private studio, always singular in their vision.
The Masons describe themselves, rather, as a team, with joint ‘directors’ and a myriad of other roles taken by one or both of them. From the beginning, the works of Hipkiss have been the product of a collaboration, both technically and in terms of inspiration. A common love of birds and landscapes – be they bucolic, urban or industrial – forms the backdrop for most of the drawings, but one can also find coded messages, private jokes and fragments of the couple’s discussions in the seemingly random texts.
While Chris is self-taught as an artist, Alpha studied photography, film-making and life drawing at college; the relationship has developed symbiotically, so that the works of Hipkiss are, at once, unfettered by rigid artistic training, yet always thoughtfully composed. Both of the couple are eternal students in subjects beyond art and there are themes of political geography, history and the social sciences, detectable on close inspection, behind the graphite, ink and metallic leaf.
Inevitably influenced by the doctrine of the ‘auteur’ as singular, despite a shared feminist ethos, the couple once allowed credit for the work of Hipkiss to be given solely to Chris. However, in recent years, they have taken steps to banish viewers’ assumptions of a ‘male gaze’ by clarifying their mode of creation as the dual process it is.
Hipkiss is represented in the collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, John Michael Kohler Art Center, Cindy Sherman, Rudolf Zwirner, FRAC Picardie, FRAC Midi-Pyrénées, The Kupferstichkabinett, Antoine de Galbert and The Whitworth, among others. The work has been shown at Tate Britain, Whitechapel, David Zwirner, The Drawing Center, La Maison Rouge, New Museum, The Irish Museum of Modern Art, La Caixa and The Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art. Three-times recipients of the Pollock-Krasner Award.
Anina Major (b. 1981, Nassau, Bahamas) is a visual artist whose work investigates the relationships between self and place in efforts to cultivate a sense of belonging. Her work draws from anthropological research and oral histories to challenge postcolonial ideology and advocate for critical dialogue around developing cultural identities. Major is the recipient of numerous awards and residencies, including the St. Botolph Club Foundation Emerging Artists Award for sculpture, the Watershed Summer Residency Zenobia Award, Mass MoCA Studio Artist Program, and the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center Fellowship. Her work has been exhibited internationally at venues in The Bahamas, the United States, and Europe including Gallery 51, North Adams, MA; Westminster College Foster Art Gallery; New Wilmington, PA; Fuller Craft Museum, Brockton, MA; National Gallery of The Bahamas, Nassau, Bahamas; HALLE 14, Leipzig, Germany; and PRIZM Art Fair, Miami, FL. Major studied at the College of The Bahamas before earning her BS in Graphic Design from Drexel University in 2003 and her MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2017.
Erin Woodbrey (b. 1985, Portland, Maine) is a New England-based visual artist whose body of interdisciplinary work utilizes sculpture, printmaking, photography, and time-based media. Woodbrey’s work seeks to parse the fused and knotted qualities of the current global environmental crisis as examined through objects, the landscape, and the relationships between bodies and architectures. Woodbrey’s work is presented, piece by piece, as an origin-based study of fabricated and naturally occurring units of space and time. Her gaze, wide in scope, is trained on the interrelated qualities of process, time, material, nature, the body, and architecture. Using sometimes insubstantial materials to depict what seems simultaneously indestructible and delicate, Woodbrey’s work, explores the tension between permanence and transience, growth and decay. Often involving a dialog on contemporary Ecological discourse and new materialisms, Woodbrey’s work draws on the legacies of Dada, Fluxus, and conceptual art movements of the 1960’s and 70’s including Process Art, Land Art, and Environmental Art. Through experiment and focused research, Woodbrey’s work asks essential questions about how the functions of objects and space inform, mirror, and tend to the human condition and more broadly, conditions of being.
Recent solo and two-person exhibitions include The Fragment Series, Gaa Gallery, Provincetown, MA, USA; Quill Isn’t Staying Now, with Dani Leventhal ReStack, Gaa Projects, Cologne, Germany; Leg, Limber, Lumber, Limb, Higgins Art Gallery at Cape Cod Community College, Barnstable, MA, USA; Time Mothers, Gaa Gallery Provincetown, MA, USA; Material Studies, Arena Gallery, Liverpool, UK; and Air of Another Planet, Gaa Gallery, Wellfleet, MA. Her work has been included group exhibitions at Cry Baby, Berlin, Germany; Center for Maine Contemporary Art, Rockland, ME; SÍM Gallery, Reykjavík, Iceland; Greylight Projects, Hoensbroek, Netherlands USA; Code Art Fair, Copenhagen, Denmark; Blue Star Contemporary Art Museum, San Antonio, TX, USA; International Print Center, New York, NY, and Kumu Art Museum, Tallinn, Estonia, among others. Woodbrey received an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2014. In 2007 she completed a BFA at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University, where she also is the recipient of a 2017-18 Traveling Fellowship.