I love to meet new people and discover new ideas. 2015 so far has been full of changing faces and intense lessons. It is funny how you make a decision to take a new job and your path changes into an entirely different direction. When I took the job at Houston Arts Alliance last August, I didn't realize the potential it had or what I could make out of it. I wanted the job because I was interested in the organization's relationship with cultural planning. Along with learning that, I have also had the delight of meeting artists: learning their processes, meeting their friends and hearing their conversations with one another. In my opinion, the Houston art scene is small but once you meet people like Jo Ann Fleischhauer you understand that many artists here in this community are able to project a special voice and create a contribution to the larger conversation.
I connected with Jo Ann last Wednesday at the Mariago Collective to talk about her latest exhibition, the sky and the fracture. The exhibition features monoprints and broken casts that once casted the painted glass dodecahedrons and buckyballs that hang from the second floor ceiling. I told her that this piece wasn't going to be a direct commentary on the exhibition because a wonderful piece was already written by Michael McFadden and you should click here to read it. I highly encourage you all to read the article so you all can understand the exhibition's details as discussed through an interview with Jo Ann and curator Tommy Gregory.
This show challenged how art can be viewed. When one steps into a gallery space, they aren't typically accustomed to looking up at the ceiling. It was strategic and clever to have the monoprints hang from the downstairs ceiling. I also liked how there wasn't a formal artist statement on the wall, which would have traditionally outlined Jo Ann's purpose of the installation. Instead she hand painted words that led visitors up and down the stairs, ultimately connecting the sky with the fracture. My favorite moment (naturally) was solely sitting in the gallery and staring at the second floor ceiling.
Anyone who knows anything about me knows that I love to stare at ceilings FOR HOURS.
Looking up at the sky, the lovely glass dodecahedrons and buckyballs, was tranquil, stimulating and alluring. In the photo my iPhone created the illusion that it was a sort of painterly galaxy, but in person, the piece is so much more. You can see and feel the hours of work put into the installation.
But as Jo Ann's new fan, I know how dedicated she is to her artwork and her mind. We discussed how her process has changed from her undergraduate days in art school to her travels to New Zealand and France, and more recently her work in Italy. After attending the curator/artist talk a few weeks ago, I learned she has passionately attempted to bridge the gap of art and science throughout her career. This exhibition brought together her research that started during her artist residency in the Department of Nanomedicine and Biomedical Engineering (nBME) at The University of Texas Health Science Center and her work in Gagliato, Calabria, Italy. She is quite brilliant. I am certain that there is nothing that makes me more enthused than speaking with a dedicated artist that lives to connect these disciplines in their artistic practice.