Born. Plantation, Florida, 1974
Education. University of Vermont, B.A. 1998
Lives and works in Montreal, Quebec and New Orleans, Louisiana.
I am a writer, artist, publisher, and cultural worker. I am interested in the role of art in the community and how art can impact communities. I am also interested in the role of art in people’s lives and believe contemporary regionalism is a means for rebuilding society’s relationship with art. My practice includes community organizing, curating, writing, publishing, and art making,
I engage in large-scale, ongoing community projects that organize a large group of people as a way of mobilizing a communal response to a problem. I started ARTSHOP in 2004 as a way of organizing, exhibiting, and sharing art products. Through this project, I employ a number of strategies to engage people with ideas about contemporary art. I operated two fine art galleries (Kasini House Gallery in Burlington, Vermont from 2006 to 2009 and Galerie Maison Kasini in Montreal, Quebec from 2009 to 2013) that allowed me to curate a number of artists, publish catalogues of artwork, and present contemporary art to the public. In 2011 and 2012, I produced Winooski Pop-up Gallery District, an event that converted a block of vacant retail spaces into working art galleries for six weeks at a time. Other projects such as Ribbon Pig (2012 to 2015) and Art Cards exist as tools for diffusing contemporary art and literature while demonstrating a sustainable, pro-artist/writing business model.
In 2018, I created World Collage Day, an annual event that, in its first year, saw over 50 events in 26 countries come together to celebrate collage. Since 2018, I have produced Kolaj Fest New Orleans, a multi-day festival & symposium about contemporary collage and its role in art, culture, and society.
While my curatorial practice developed in my own commercial art gallery, it has evolved to work in partnership with other institutions. In 2011, I curated “Montreal Contemporary“, a SODEC-funded exhibition at the South End Art Hop in Burlington, Vermont. In 2017, I curated “The Art of Winter” at S.P.A.C.E. Gallery in Burlington. In 2018, I curated “Revolutionary Paths: Critical Issues in Collage” at Antenna Gallery in New Orleans, which bought together collage artists whose work represents the potential for deeper inquiry and further curatorial exploration of the medium. Working with the Vermont Arts Council, I curated four exhibits: “Connection: The Art of Coming Together” (2017) and Vermont Artists to Watch 2018, 2019 and 2020.
In January-February 2020, I was the artist-in-residence at MERZ in Sanquhar, Scotland. While there, I created “Schwitters’ Army“, a manifestation of the international collage community, including an exhibition during my residency with another planned for 2030 and a World Collage Day 2020 event.
In 2020, I completed a two-year mandate as Curator of Contemporary Art at Rokeby Museum in Ferrisburgh, Vermont, during which I introduced art to the historic site. I curated three exhibitions and produced an artist lab, two publications, and a symposium. “Rokeby Through the Lens” investigated how photography was used at Rokeby in the 19th century and included commissioned artwork by Stephen and Eve O. Schaub that used photography and text to render for the viewer an experience of the site and its history. A publication documents the exhibition and historic research. The second exhibition, “Structures“, featured Beverly Buchanan, Meg Walker, Axel Stohlberg, Denis Versweyveld, Judith Rey, Rob Hitzig, Steve Hadeka, and Yoko Ono. Installed throughout Rokeby’s buildings and grounds, the exhibition temporarily repurposed the historic site as a platform for contemporary art and asked the viewer to contemplate the role that structures play in shaping our experience of the world and how structures can inform and shape the experience of others. I organized a day-long symposium on the intersection of art and history that brought together artist Nancy Winship Milliken, artist Wylie Garcia, artist Erika Senft Miller, Rokeby Museum Director Catherine Brooks, and Fleming Museum of Art Curator Andrea Rosen to lead a day-long discussion about the intersection of art and history. I also organized the Rokeby Artist Lab, a four-day intensive program that took place in September 2019 at Rokeby Museum and Middlebury College Special Collections, where the letters of Rokeby’s founders, the Robinson family, are stored.
Ten artists from across the United States and Canada researched, discussed, and investigated Rokeby Museum, its history, and contemporary issues relating to race, gender, and the land. When these artists returned home, they drafted proposals for contemporary art projects at Rokeby that included independent research and rigorous thinking about the site and the themes it raises. The proposals related those themes to contemporary civic discourse and included ways to further animate the site through workshops, talks, and other activities.
In 2020, I curated one of those proposals as a season-long exhibition. “Mending Fences: New Works by Carol MacDonald” is a multifaceted collection of objects, monotype prints, and site-specific installations that, in the face of complex cultural challenges, promotes both simple and profound acts of repair. Essays in the exhibition’s 92-page companion book outline physical repair as a metaphor for social change. I consider the impact a century of planned obsolescence had on 20th and 21st century American consumerism in contrast to 19th century material culture. I examine the portrayal of repair in art and how it changed after Modernism. I offer the reader a tour of Carol MacDonald’s objects, monoprints, and installations in “Mending Fences” at Rokeby and consider their potential connections to history, culture, and the metaphor of repair. I use MacDonald’s interventions to talk about how objects have meaning and the role museums play in creating narratives of cultural heritage. I write about how art can help us understand complex social issues from the environment to the history of racial tension in America.
At Southern Vermont Arts Center’s Wilson Museum in 2019, I presented “Contemporary American Regionalism” in which I paired examples of Regionalism from the museum’s collection with work by contemporary artists as a way of demonstrating how art historically spoke to community concerns. The exhibition was informed by a theory of viewer-centric, community-specific curatorial practice and featured work from eleven contemporary artists working in sculpture, fiber art, drawing and painting. A companion publication situated the exhibition in the legacy of tension that rose in the early 20th century as Regionalism was eclipsed by Modernism in the United States and challenges conventional thinking about Regionalism and its successors.
Also in 2020, I produced two artist labs (Pandemic Artist Lab and August Artist Lab) in collaboration with Agnieszka Czeblakow, PhD, Head of Research Services at Tulane University Special Collections during which artists from United States, Canada, Europe, and Latin America used the archive and the history of New Orleans to develop strategies for picking up the unfinished work of history and speaking to contemporary civic discourse around social, economic, and environmental issues. Labs paid particular attention to the impact the COVID-19 Pandemic is having on society and the growing awareness of the role of race in American society in response to the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and many others. Proposals from these Labs are currently being developed.
In late 2020, working with Suzanne Sbarge of 516 ARTS in Albuquerque, New Mexico, I co-curated the virtual exhibtion “Radical Reimaginings” (August 22-December 31), including co-editing a companion volume of the same name. The exhibition and book presented artists who use collage in their practice to put forward a work of art that offers a visual narrative that speaks to our time.
My art-making crosses media and includes photography, print making, installations, and art product making. My approach to photography is two-fold: I am interested in the visual language of painting as expressed through photography and in photography as a documentary tool, particularly when combined with writing. My printmaking focuses largely on colour theory and shape making, where I attempt to represent conceptual ideas in the most minimal shape possible and then develop the idea through the use of colour palettes. My installations are large-scale, multi-faceted, and sometimes theatrical manifestations of ideas. I make art products—small art and multiples—as a means of exploring further questions of object and meaning: How does an object have meaning? Why does an object have meaning? And what role do objects play in our lives?
My artwork has been exhibited in Georgia, Louisiana, Ontario, Pennsylvania, Quebec, and Vermont and is in private collections in Australia, Canada, France, the United States and the United Kingdom. Recent exhibitions include “Gift” juried by Jordan Amirkhani, Ph.D. at the Moon Gallery, Berry College in Georgia and “Altered Spaces“, curated by Kelly Holt at Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center in Stowe, Vermont. In January 2019, I debuted “The Kunstkammer” in “Rutland: Real and Imagined” curated by Stephen Schaub at The Alley Gallery in Rutland, Vermont. In 2020, a work from my “Pod Tower Historical Society” project was included in “Vermont Utopias” at Bennington Museum (November 27-December 28), curated by Jamie Franklin.
An ongoing series of installation, The Kunstkammer continues a practice of intervening on photographic portraits to portray a moment of expanded consciousness. The immersive installation converts a room into a cabinet of curiosities. Operating from Year 2199, The Kunstkammer bends time and history by blending historical fact and imagined fictions. Each of the photographs, paintings, collage, and sculpture in the installation is a story from the future about the present. The accompanying ‘zine, The Kunstkammer Field Report, assembles the stories about the images and objects in the installation.
I see ‘zine-making as an extension of my art practice. My titles include Art Is Food (2006), How to Price Your Artwork (2005), Everything That Is Wrong With You & How To Fix It (2015), I Am Calling Today…(2016), Apotheosis Ruskin (2017), My Pet Rock: A Tragedy & Love Story (2018), Eight Sonnets (2019), and What Good Is a Photograph? (2020), among others.
WRITING & PUBLISHING
My writing and publishing work operates in a manner similar to my art practice and community work, but in printed form. My writing has appeared in Hyperallergic, Vermont Magazine, Seven Days, Seattle Weekly, Art New England (where I was the former Vermont editor) and many others. I have published dozens of artist catalogs as a way of promoting and diffusing art and ideas. I have written for a number of galleries. Most recently, the catalog foreword for “Boundaries: New Work by Sara Willadsen” at Frank Juarez Gallery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
In 2005, I co-published (and co-wrote with Christopher Byrne) the Vermont Art Guide as a way of promoting Vermont contemporary art and Vermont as a contemporary art destination. The project has evolved into a study of contemporary regionalism. In 2006, as a response to a need identified during a community meeting for better organization of the art community, I started Art Map Burlington in Burlington, Vermont, which was also a way of increasing the amount of critical writing about local artists.In 2016, Byrne and I relaunched Vermont Art Guide as a quarterly magazine, continuing the promotion of Vermont contemporary art to both Vermonters and visitors.
In 2011, I co-founded Kolaj Magazine with Benoit Depelteau as way of exploring, documenting, and sharing collage as a contemporary, fine art medium and building a network of artists working in the medium.
From my individual art making to my community projects, I am guided by a set of beliefs. A critique of power is embedded in my work. I believe art can be a tool for liberation. I believe the current configuration of the art world prevents most people from having a meaningful relationship with art, and as such, is a tool of oppression and in the interest of those who benefit from the status quo. I view cynicism as a failure to hope. I believe entrepreneurship is a tool for emancipation. Lastly, I believe in the accumulation of small gestures.