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Indepth Arts News:

"Decelerate AND foldoverfold: Marcie Miller Gross"
2005-12-16 until 2006-01-29
Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art
Kansas City, MO, USA

In today’s fast-paced world, it is increasingly normal for many people to race from one appointment to the next or one place to another, often over-scheduling their lives to the point of stress and burnout, with little time to process daily life experiences. Given these circumstances, it’s not surprising that there seems to be a growing need to return to a slower, more contemplative state of being through activities like yoga, knitting, and meditation, among others.  Two exhibitions at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Decelerate (December 16–February 19) and foldoverfold: Marcie Miller Gross (December 16–January 29) consider how this anti-velocity attitude has found its place in the visual arts.

Decelerate (December 16–February 19)

  Decelerate presents works by ten artists who explore the concept of slowing down in a time-crunched culture in a variety of ways. Sometimes this slowness emerges as a contemplative, creative process, in which time becomes a tool that allows an image or idea to evolve. For example, Michelle Segre’s loopy, dreamlike drawings reflect a visual wandering that results from free-form hours of endless imagination. Jacob El Hanani also demonstrates how time is literally of the essence in his drawings, which feature tiny, intricate, repetitive marks that seem to embody an almost rhythmic concentration and effort. Some of his works take years to complete.

   Other artists’ works encourage viewers to rediscover the joys of simply looking at the world around them. Harnessing technology to spiritual concerns, Jennifer Steinkamp creates computer animations of dancing, lifelike trees that move and breathe with the wind. What results is an environment conducive to relaxation and deep thought. Colby Caldwell documents fleeting memories with his videos, stills, and soundwork, while Tony Feher takes everyday materials such as plastic soda bottles, shopping bags, and masking tape and transforms them into objects and installations of wonder and visual delight.

   “The idea for Decelerate slowly came to me—no pun intended— a few years ago, after I noticed that a great number of artists were rejecting the sleekness, polish, and ironic distance of the high-tech ‘90s and were instead making works by hand or that required intense effort or time, and which often spoke to deeper concerns,” said Elizabeth Dunbar, curator. “At about the same time, I came across the book In Praise of Slowness by Carl Honoré, which opened my eyes to the greater cultural slow movement that has been gaining popularity across the globe. This helped to cement my belief in an anti-velocity trend in art today.”

foldoverfold: Marcie Miller Gross (December 16–January 29)

  Like the artists in Decelerate, Kansas-City based artist Marcie Miller Gross also explores how mundane objects can take on new visual and conceptual dimensions in site-specific installations. In the past, Gross gained notoriety for neatly stacking used bath and hospital towels, creating structures that redefined interior spaces with their arresting geometry. At the same time, the towels embodied a history of use and a relationship to the body.

       For foldoverfold, her first solo museum exhibition, Gross now turns her attention to new, clean, white, cotton huck towels, meticulously folded into densely layered, minimalist sculptural works that comment on the architectural and spacial qualities of the Kemper Museum galleries. Her beautifully simple yet striking accumulations reveal the creative potential of a seemingly everyday material steeped in cultural meaning.

   “Shortly after the invitation for this exhibition, I came upon the cotton huck towels ... I became interested in their ambiguity of origin and use, and the fact that they seem to exist somewhere between the domestic and the industrial,” Gross said. “I also became more interested in distilling the mark of the hand on the cloth in a fundamental way. By stripping away the associations that prior history played with used textiles, I am trying to heighten the tension between the action of the hand, the act of folding, and the look of manufacture.”

   With a variety of works by both established and emerging artists that evoke interesting questions about our daily existence,  Decelerate and foldoverfold: Marcie Miller Gross offer opportunities for museum visitors to reflect on how to be more conscious and present in their daily lives. Free brochures accompany both exhibitions. Please also join us for the various  educational activities for these exhibitions, listed below.

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