During our brief visit to NYC I had to the remarkable opportunity to meet with the artist Barton Liddes Benes. I came to know his work through the UND art department and his connection to the North Dakota Museum of Art. While his work is somewhat transitioning, Barton is widely known celebrity relic pieces. Using traditional religious relic motifs, Benes transforms them with our cultures religious-like worship of celebrity. Bits of celebrity trash and other cultural oddities make their way to Barton through a vast network of friends and into his work. The diversity of relics is astounding from Frank Sinatra's fingernail to Madonna's panties, these little bits of ephemera gain importance via their provenance.
Barton has also done significant artwork on AIDS using his own blood in some pieces, failed AIDS medications, and even curing potion from an African healer complete with text for recitation.
While Barton may be taking a break from some of the relic work, he is still prolific in his work. His current work involves making mandalas out of the world currencies and prayer rugs out of varieties of stamps. UND recently completed a prayer rug edition of 27 for Barton...it is beautiful and bright.
If you are not familiar with Barton's work, a great place to start is his book, Curiosa.
This was my second visit to Barton's home and his hospitality is remarkable. I am thankful for the time I had to spend with him and for his willingness to spend some time with a few North Dakotan fans.
Its summer. Finally. But somehow I seemed to have missed spring. I know how I missed it too. And my profound lack in posting shows it as well. Once I finished the MFA show, I jumped into a conference paper that I presented just last week at the College Theology Society. While I knew what I was going to write about, no words had actually been written at the beginning of May. I spent hours reading and writing during that short window between the beginning of the month and when we left for a brief pre-conference holiday in NYC. That which normally takes me a 3-4 months to write, I completed in just under 4 weeks. I will post more on the paper later.
For now, I am busy readying work for a 2 person show at Third Street Gallery that will go up sometime next week. Jessica Christy, my former office and studio mate at UND, and I will be putting up the remnants of our MFA show and some new work as well. So I have been working in the studio since my return from NYC printing a new series of work to be integrated into the show and a new series of small trays. The work will take the form of the small trays but will have prints behind like the larger lots of photos printed in white on white. Originally I printed them in color as a means of replacing the 2 books which I have sold, but I felt they were largely unsuccessful. So, I returned to the white-on-white printing and I am much happier about them. I am also adding plexi to this series of trays. Ive cut the front 1/3 of the top of the tray off and will attach it to the plexi so that the plexi might slide out, thus keeping a sense of functionality and access to the object rather than simple framing, while adding a level of protection not in the others. Ive not yet assembled the new pieces...hopefully today. I will post picts when I get them done.