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The Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania is pleased to present an exhibition featuring new and recent work by New York–based artists Ginny Casey and Jessi Reaves, on view April 28 through August 6, 2017.
Casey’s paintings and Reaves’s sculpture meet through the sensuous surface language of decorative and domestic objects. Vases, chairs, hammers, tables, and saws engaged in unruly acts or endowed with unsettling affects inhabit Casey’s painted world. “Building sculpture with paint,” in the artist’s words, Casey brings still lifes to life, filtered through a quasi-Surrealist imagination of animated objecthood and the domestic uncanny. Reaves’s sculptures, usually constructed from found frames of chairs, couches, and shelves, also double as functional furniture, reminding us of our dependence on these everyday things. From bulging, stained upholsterer’s foam to embroidered or patterned fabric, the imperfect surfaces of Reaves’s work often sensitize, eroticize, and anthropomorphize the unembellished structures of much functionalist design.
These two- and three-dimensional scenes of strange domesticity occupy the space between interior and exterior, surface and structure, fancy and function, dependency and autonomy— polarizations so often parsed along lines of gender and sexuality. By improvising on intersecting histories of commercial, domestic, and museum displays associated with the world and work of women, this exhibition insists on art’s other life: decorative and functional objects that are used, loved, lived with. At once painting, sculpture, furniture, and ornament, simultaneously interior decoration and art installation, Casey’s and Reaves’s works shuttle across different media and senses of spectatorship, public and private spaces, as well as inanimate objects and the human subjects who rely upon them.
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