to Jun 2

Frye Art Museum / Gretchen Frances Bennett: Air, the free or unconfined space above the surface of the earth

Gretchen Frances Bennett: Air, the free or unconfined space above the surface of the earth

February 16–June 2, 2019

Public Opening Reception: Friday, February 15, 2019

7–9:30 pm

Seattle-based artist Gretchen Frances Bennett explores issues related to visual perception at the intersection of personal and historical memory. Working primarily in drawing, she demonstrates a preoccupation with mundane yet cinematically-inflected moments that retain the fascination of a time diffuse between past and present. She is perhaps best known for luminous color pencil translations of personal photographs and artifacts of popular media, as in a series of drawings of Kurt Cobain based on YouTube videos and the Gus van Sant film, Last Days

(2005). Acknowledging the fragmentary and intermediary nature of her source material, Bennett includes

“surface evidence” within her drawings, like accidental tears in the original photograph, the grain of lo-fi digital video imagery, or the color imbalances of inkjet print-outs.

Recently Bennett’s practice has extended to writing. In conjunction with a collection of personal essays and poems that she has been working on for over a year, she is creating a slideshow video in collaboration with photographer Paulo Castillo and a series of time-intensive, large-scale drawings that examine constructed and deconstructed notions of the self. Based on sources ranging from photographs taken during childhood travels to stills from Céline Sciamma’s film Tomboy (2011) and screen grabs from online spiritual guides’ video channels, this new body of work tracks Bennett’s process of deprogramming, healing, and (continual) re-becoming by retracing

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to Sep 30

Becoming American



For an upcoming group exhibition, Becoming American, I've created a new work, a personal essay, that explores personal and historical memory in the context of the everyday, particularly the weeks directly following 9/11 in New York City.

From the exhibition website: Exploring how artists engage the ongoing challenges of American iconography, identity, history, and formal inheritances, Becoming American is an international group exhibition taking place on the grounds of the American and English camps on San Juan Island, WA, and satellite venues in the city of Seattle.

The exhibition ranges from commissions responsive to the layered dynamics of the primary venue—including the park’s history as a traditional home to Coastal Salish people, the location of the last territorial dispute between the United States and Great Britain, its imminent proximity to Canada, and exceptional natural beauty—to works across media that delve into and question the perhaps permanently contested, never-to-be-resolved nature of the larger understanding of the Americas.

Literal and conceptual borders alike are pushed via moving image, painting, sculpture, photography, textile, and sound and performance works that open up the provocation and prompt of the exhibition’s title to multiple readings. Animating the architecture of extant buildings—comprised of preserved storehouse, barracks, blockhouse and hospital structures, Becoming American extends its reach into group and solo presentations in Seattle to create a call and response between rural and urban contexts.

With immersive installations and key historical works presented alongside artist texts and performative gesture, the exhibition underscores an ongoing inquiry and transitive approach to themes of race, gender, place, and cultural heritage embedded within the larger practices of contributing artists. Actively rehearsing, analyzing, and playing with ideological stances and narrative, the works on view encourage audiences to engage and reflect upon the uneasy imaginary of what it means to strive toward becoming American today.   —FM



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