UNDERDONK presents Right of Window
Sophie Grant and Jenna Westra
Picture an arm reaching out a window to the exterior wall and affixing tiles, paint, stucco, flowers, and other décor for as far as the fingers can reach.
Then picture arms reaching through every window in every city. The Austrian artist and architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser (1928-2000) coined the term “right of window” to assert our need to express ourselves beyond our private domestic spaces and into the public realm. Even in rented apartment buildings, he thought, humans must have the freedom to reach out the window and alter anything within arm’s length. That is our right of window, a right that breaks boundaries of ownership, personalizes the generic, and disrupts a conformist sameness.
Over the past year, Sophie Grant and Jenna Westra have been exploring ideas of exchange, touch, and reclaiming through an ongoing collaboration. Grant, primarily a painter, built a series of amorphous clay shapes, which she would cart down the hall to Westra’s studio door. Westra, a photographer, incorporated the ceramics into her meticulously composed gelatin silver prints and would return the cart laden with her tools and papers and props. As they playfully swapped visual currency via tops and bottoms of each other’s carts, their distinct artistic practices cross-pollinated. In this exhibition, Grant has assembled these ceramics, along with scraps of bookcloth and other materials, into collages that echo the internal structure of Westra’s photos. Meanwhile the same shapes and materials proliferate like epiphytes in Westra’s black-and-white, analogue images. In both, asymmetrical forms zigzag through frames, objects hover over and under surfaces, and animating forces shift from interior to exterior and back again.
These works question the rules that govern borders and boundaries. Where does a reach begin? What are the perimeters of artistic authorship? What new perspectives become possible when we move away from a fixed point of view? Our culture reveres the straight line as the shortest—and therefore most economical—distance between two points. Grant and Westra favor wandering as a better model, and in so doing create space for empathy and play.
Jenna Westra (b. 1986, Grand Rapids, MI) lives and works in New York City. She received her B.A. from California State University, Northridge (2009), and an M.F.A. from Hunter College (2015). Her work has been exhibited in Los Angeles, Boston, and New York, reviewed in the Boston Globe, and published in Papersafe, The Artist Institute Hunted Book Series, and Amadeus (forthcoming). Westra had a solo exhibition at Silver Projects, Brooklyn, NY in 2014.
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