Smack Mellon is pleased to present Karin Giusti’s monumental installation Honorem: Three Seasons at Black Forest Farm and Michael Kukla’s first large scale site-specific project Jeskyne.
Karin Giusti’s installation Honorem: Three Seasons at Black Forest Farm addresses the emotions of grief and mourning in the public and private sphere. Using sculpture and photography, Giusti captures memories of her life at a remote farmhouse with her late partner Stephen G. Schwarz, a firefighter and 9/11 First Responder. Giusti’s method of photographing the site in the round creates an enclosed space not meant for living organisms, but rather for memories alone. The digitally stitched photographs are constructed into kaleidoscopic pillars lit from within; transforming Smack Mellon’s existing columns into rows of glowing sentinels, majestically standing guard within the darkened gallery.
Michael Kukla’s installation, Jeskyne (Czech for “cave”), also takes cues from the formidable effects of time and nature. Exploring the elasticity and permeability of an object’s surface, Kukla creates an immersive web of cellular forms blended seamlessly into the gallery’s architecture. Like large fossils, these hand sculpted monochromatic façades compress time into positive and negative space.
Honorem: Three Seasons at Black Forest Farm
Honorem: Three Seasons at Black Forest Farm is a memorial dedicated to Stephen G. Schwarz, a firefighter and First Responder who passed away in 2010 from the after-effects of working in the wreckage following 9/11, but it is also meant to honor all First Responders.
Honorem: Three Seasons at Black Forest Farm celebrates the domesticity and the landscape of the life Stephen and I shared on a bucolic farm in Sullivan County. Each photographic image portrays a loop of outdoor space that starts from the vantage point near my feet and extends outward across the atmosphere and sky before returning back to the place of origin. Instead of a funereal dirge of bagpipes, the sound track for this installation records the birds of the area and the sounds of Stephen chopping wood, taken from an old movie camera. Like an “empty chair memorial,” the only signs of human life in the piece are my shadow and the noise of splintering wood. Structured into light-illuminating pillars, the thousands of pictures sutured together to portray “Black Forest Farm” capture a fragment of time.
Karin Giusti was born in Michigan. She currently lives and works in Upstate New York. Giusti holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from Yale University School of Art in New Haven, CT and a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from University of Massachusetts at Amherst. For the past twenty years she has been a professor at City University of New York at Brooklyn College. Giusti has exhibited her artwork locally, nationally, and internationally in museums, galleries, and public spaces. She has also lectured on the subject of site-specific sculpture widely, including at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC. Her awards and honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship in Sculpture Installation from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation; Fellowship in Architecture/Environmental Structures from the New York Foundation for the Arts; Individual Artist Grant from The Pollock-Krasner Foundation; the academic award of Bernard H. Stern Professor in Humor; Individual Artist Fellowship for Sculpture from the State of Connecticut Commission on the Arts.
I’m fascinated by hollow places in solid bodies or surfaces: termite nests, weathered seaside cliffs, eroded riverbanks, and caves. I take inspiration from the action of nature and time upon the solidity of stone and earth. Working with stone, plywood or insulation board, I drill and grind out holes, to create works that seem transformed by natural processes. Starting with an oval, I make holes that aggregate to form light or dense colonies of cells. This lends the work a sculptural space that can appear either positive or negative.
Having studied geology, for me, the earth isn’t simply an obdurate rock floating in space, but a living force, ever in motion. Likewise, I ask myself in my artwork: can a sculpture become something dynamic—can it achieve a fluidity in shape, form, or structure? After millions of years, water can transform stone, leaving cavities, crevasses and caves. I greatly compress that passage of time in my work. Opening up lattice-like portals and interconnected webs, where previously there was only solid geometry, Jeskyne allows the viewer to visually penetrate the surface causing a visceral response to the space. I want to show the wall and space beyond, leaving behind the preciousness of the museum pedestal and encouraging encounters that are more sensory and physical.
Michael Kukla was born in 1963 in Prague, Czech Republic, and moved to the US in 1971. He works and lives in New York City and has studios in New Jersey and Vermont. He studied painting at Castleton State College in Vermont, where he received his BFA; and sculpture at Hochschule der Künste in Berlin, Germany. He has shown in the US, Brazil and Europe and was featured live on Czech TV as the first American artist to exhibit in Ostrava, Czechoslovakia since the end of World War II. Among his many commissions for sculpture, Kukla was hired by Apple Computer to create marble pedestals for the full line of Apple computers in the year 1992. He has exhibited nationally and internationally in galleries and museums, and cultural institutions such as the New York Public Library, New York, NY; DM Contemporary, New York, NY; Gallery Chagall, Ostrava, Czech Republic;Arkansas Arts Center, Little Rock, AR; and Stadtmuseum Deggendorf, Deggendorf, Germany; His work is in many private collections.
These exhibitions are supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council, New York City Council Member Stephen Levin, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and with generous support from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Lambent Foundation, The O’Grady Foundation, Gilbert Mackay Foundation, many individuals and Smack Mellon’s Members.
Karin Giusti’s exhibition sponsors: Velcro America, Epson America, Inc and LexJet. Special thanks to: Mr. Stephen King And The Haven Foundation, The Joan Mitchell Foundation, The Gottlieb Foundation, The Artists’ Fellowship Inc., and The Pollock-Krasner Foundation, Inc.
Smack Mellon’s programs are also made possible with public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts and with generous support from The Edward and Sally Van Lier Fund of The New York Community Trust, The Roy and Niuta Titus Foundation, Jerome Foundation, Lily Auchincloss Foundation, Inc., Richard J. Massey Foundation for the Arts & Sciences, The Robert Lehman Foundation, The Greenwich Collection Ltd, Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation Inc., and Exploring The Arts.
Space for Smack Mellon’s programs is generously provided by the Walentas family and Two Trees Management.