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OFF-SPRING: New Generations

Showing at 21c Oklahoma City On display from June 2017 - April 2018
  • Laetitia Soulier (French), The Matryoshka Dolls 2, (from The Fractal Architectures series), 2015. Chromogenic print, 40 x 80 inches.

  • Sofie Muller (Belgian) Clarysse, 2011 Patinated bronze, wooden desks.

  • Angela Ellsworth (American). Seer Bonnet XXI (Eliza) and Seer Bonnet XX (Emily), 2011 39,804 pearl corsages pins, fabric, steel, wood.

About the Exhibition

Rituals—religious and cultural, institutional and domestic—provide the thematic infrastructure for OFF-SPRING: New Generations. Exploring the development of both personal and group identity, childhood, family, history, and gender politics, these sculptures, paintings, photographs, and videos employ iconographic imagery to reveal how we learn to live, love, work, and dream in the 21st century. At the wedding altar, in the family home, or in the classroom, within the fantasy of childhood play or the familiarity of grown-up habit, these new, old narratives generate a spectrum of meditations on the contemporary construction of self and society.

The history and symbolism of marital rituals are both exposed and transformed in works by Frances Goodman, Asya Reznikov, and Beth Moysés, addressing a broad range of issues within the metaphoric constraints of tradition. These works reference what brides have worn and carried to and from the altar, in search of a blessing, a partner, a new self or different life. Frances Goodman’s textile and sound installation, The Dream, is comprised of satin, silk, and organza wedding dresses flowing from the ceiling to the floor in waves of pinks and whites. Goodman interviewed dozens of women ages 20 to 60 and integrated their candid emotions of hope, envy, angst, uncertainty, and desire about the tradition of marriage, into the work as both hand-embroidered words on the dresses and as sound excerpts from the interviews she recorded. Reznikov’s Packing: Bride enacts the nostalgia and anticipation of displacement. Illuminating the mental and emotional state of transition experienced by immigrants and travelers, Reznikov fills a suitcase with objects and images that constitute bridal “necessities”—items that may fulfill the bride’s desire for material and psychological preparedness as she embarks on a new life in a unfamiliar world. The brides featured in Beth Moysés’ still and moving images are embarking on a transformative journey both physical and emotional.  Reconstructing Dreams creates a new ritual: female survivors of domestic abuse walk together through the streets of Montevideo, Uruguay, to the central public square, where they sit and embroider the patterns of the lines in their hands on their gloves, discarding their past and wedding themselves to new lives.

Both Lalla Essaydi and Angela Ellsworth explore the conventions and aesthetics of the faith traditions in which they were raised—Muslim and Mormon. The women invoked in Angela Ellsworth’s sculpture, Eliza and Emily, are bound to each other: the pin-sharp straps of these19th-century-style bonnets, fashioned from thousands of pearl corsage pins, are continuous, holding them forever in place, opposing and supporting one another. A descendant of Mormon prophet Lorenzo Snow, Ellsworth examines women in the context of fundamentalist Mormonism, and the ritual, symbolism, and constraint inherent in trappings such as Seer Bonnets. Cloistered and covered head to toe with lines of henna script, the women featured in Lalla Essaydi’s Les Femmes du Maroc: Harem Women Writing emerge from the artist’s Moroccan girlhood. “I needed to return to the culture of my childhood if I wanted to understand my unfolding relation to the ‘converging territories’ of my present life,” says the artist, who now lives in the U.S. The texts, which are primarily autobiographical and written in the Islamic script that was forbidden for her female relatives to use, “is the story of my quest to find my own voice,” while revealing and affirming other lives and stories unheard.

The weight of the future and the past encumbers much of the variously angelic, endangered, and enigmatic figures featured in OFF-SPRING. Imaginary play is rendered as both enchanting and uncanny in photographs by Adriana Duque, Loretta Lux, Vee Speers, Laetitia Soulier, Anthony Goicolea, Nathalia Edenmont, and others. Duque and Lux transform their young subjects to create painterly portraits that reference art history, alluding to Rembrandt, Velázquez, Piero della Francesca, and others, while the make-up and costumes worn by models in works by Speers and Edenmont belie more than the joy of dress-up, their faces and poses introducing the presence of the uncanny. Drawing on memories of her own anguished teenage years, when her mother’s death left her orphaned, Nathalia Edenmont casts a young model as her doppelganger, dressed and posed as if awaiting or recovering from a transformative rite of passage, captured in color-saturated images of macabre beauty. Both Goicolea and Soulier reimagine childhood traditions that allow for explorations of identity that transcend the constraints of ritual and role-play. Soulier describes the characters in her Matryoshka series as stand-ins for characters in a dark fairytale and playful children. These environments, says Soulier, are “their toy, their home, their childhood, their adulthood, the space between their past and their future.” Soulier’s visions of girlhood suggest that consciousness and identity are always in flux. Similarly, the rites and trials of adolescence animate Anthony Goicolea’s boy-world, in which mysteriously uniformed, hooded, and masked young males participate in group-rituals that range from fairytale-like to uncanny. The youthful Tree Dwellers may be engaged in temporary play or permanent encampment; while Ash Wednesday depicts one boy tied to a branch and transported through the forest by his clones, toward an unknown rite of penance, of sacrifice, or merely play.

Laurie Lipton, Chris Roberts-Antieau, Tracey Snelling, and Stacey Steers reveal the potential trauma and horror of childhood cast through the lens of a childhood toy: the dollhouse.  Roberts-Antieau’s Murder House recreates the horror of the 1959 Clutter family murders, made famous by Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, while Lipton plumbs the depths of her psyche in visions of domestic terror. Here, the everyday rituals of mealtime, playtime, and bedtime are haunted by shadowy, menacing figures, spider webs, skulls, liquid and dread oozing through floorboards. Snelling and Steers combine video projections within their constructed dwellings to create uncanny scenes and visions of monsters and killers running innocent people from their homes. In a life-sized take on the dollhouse, Timothy Paul Myers, in collaboration with Andrew Barnes, meticulously layers grey felt to transform a living room into an enchanted, monochrome parlor where hundreds of flowers magically spill from the fireplace.

Children are often saddled with the sadness and sins of cultural, social, and familial history. Gottfried Helnwein’s haunting portrait of a doe-eyed child is half in shadow, one side of the face possibly bruised; the design on her jacket lapel suggests a military uniform, alluding to abuse and suffering. Gehard Demetz’s bronze and wooden sculptures of a toy soldier and placid girl-doll are fixed in place by symbols of industry and religious worship—a gas can and a crucifix—unconsenting conscripts into adulthood. For Sofie Muller’s Clarysse, the battlefield is the schoolroom, where seated for eternity at her wooden desk, she is rendered headless. Some external tragedy or interior conflict—the boredom, the shame, the struggle to succeed and conform that may attend those years in school—has erased her visage, her mind, leaving only an oval shadow burned into the desktop. Li Hongbo’s hand-carved effigy of a child is sculpted from used Chinese primary school textbooks. The artist notes that textbooks are standardized by the government and become tools for repression, historical distortion and conveying the will of political power. The title, Absorption No. 5, references the Chinese idiom ‘absorbing and transforming’ which posits that the individual with gradually change as a result of impacts over time; students are literally and figuratively shaped by the state sponsored education they receive.

Artists today appropriate such ritual mise-en-scene to honor, expose, subvert or affirm theological belief. In Carlos and Jason Sanchez’s The Baptism, smiling adults gaze at the baby as it is christened with blood. Is the image an indictment of Christian tradition, or an honest envisioning of the rite—the baby sealed by the blood of Christ? For her Pietà, Sam Taylor-Johnson cast herself as the grieving Madonna, and the actor Robert Downey, Jr. as the dead Christ. While the poses mimic pietà works by Renaissance masters Michelangelo and Bernini, Taylor-Johnson draws attention not to the sitters’ assigned roles, but to the artifice on display, and to their identities, their celebrity—captured and enhanced by camera-wielding media. David Magnusson’s portraits of fathers and daughters—participants in Purity Balls in Colorado, Arizona and Louisiana—challenge viewers to review their personal principles and judgements and investigate how surrounding culture influences values. During a Purity Ball, young girls promise to “live pure lives before God” and to remain virgins until marriage. In return, their fathers sign a commitment promising to protect their daughters’ chastity.

The domestic ritual of the family portrait is repurposed in the work of Julie Nord, Deana Lawson, Hans Op de Beeck, and Robert Pettena; its conventional documentarian function transformed into illustrations of fantasy, memory, and newly emerging family structures.  The pale, wide-eyed faces in Nord’s pen and watercolor portraits might belong in a late 19th-century parlor, but for the color literally dripping from their features. The Niece, Unknown Relative (Wilbur), and A Distant Aunt evoke Victorian imagery, the world of Charles Adams, the brothers Grimm, and more: theirs is an eerie family tableau of typologies, not individuals.  Robert Pettena and Hans Op de Beeck’s videos invite the viewer to a ritual repast—an outdoor banquet and a series of ceremonial meals—in which the expected conventions of behavior and time are subverted, separating a known ritual from recognizable reality. Both humor and pathos are present in these vivid tableaux of contemporary cultural and social practices, imbuing the everyday with the import of history, of myth. Deana Lawson’s photographic practice stems from her interest in capturing the “realness” of a family snapshot by exploring themes of intimacy, selfhood, and familial identity through representations of the body. Photographing her subjects in their homes and communities gives viewers visual cues and information about the individuals in the photographs, presenting social intimacies that defy stereotypes.

Works by Christa Parravani, leonardogillesfleur, and Lucy Sparrow are images of daily domesticity—the rituals of habit and intimacy—that reveal a persistent conflict between self and social norms. Staged in rural, often bleak settings, Parravani’s imagery narrates her life—a life she shared intimately with her twin sister. Parravani’s photographs of herself and her twin, and of a bride and groom, illustrate the complex synchronicity of the ties that bind: we seek to be together but alone, alike but unique. The longing to be both intimate and independent is also enacted by the couple riding nowhere on leonardogillesfleur’s Irreconcilable Differences, demonstrating how we long for change and consistency at once, and how individual drives may conflict with the structural norms of a sanctioned union. Sparrow’s His n’ Hers is a bathroom cabinet filled with hand-stitched, felt replicas of everyday personal hygiene products separated into gendered representations of a couple. The division highlights the unique needs and desires of men and women while critiquing a consumer culture that categorizes people based upon biology.

Indeed, all intimate relationships are subject to change from internal and exterior forces. In her Farmer’s Daughter Cycle, Lauren Argo performs a dreamlike homage to the complex life cycle of her family’s small tobacco farm. For generations, her elders’ dependence on the land formed traditions and responsibilities that engendered both masculine and feminine roles for each family member. As she enacts the shifting identities of a tobacco worker, daughter, and sister, Argo performs a process of self-inquiry at work in many lifelong laborers as the source of their livelihood and heritage runs dry. Legacy also informs Chris Radtke’s Progeny (2) pink, a nylon mesh sculpture that is both a representational and abstract portrait of her granddaughter, scaled to the child’s four-year old body. The diaphanous material evokes sacramental garments (a veil, a shroud), while the geometry of the form invokes an art-historical reference to Minimalism. Created in Radtke’s studio, Progeny (2) pink is the off-spring of both self and art, body and mind, a dual portrait of artist and subject.

Lived experience of human family dynamics—and the social and political institutions born of traditional patriarchy—often combines dependence and destruction. Josephine Taylor’s large-scale Bomb Landscape series depicts women and babies, men and animals, set in a post-apocalyptic world, vying for sustenance and survival. Their delicately drawn forms are imposing and formidable; undefined fear and ferocity animates these compelling scenes. “My drawings rely on their purity to attract the viewer,” explains the artist, “and then abuse that power by revealing something terrifying. The omnipresence of violence in my work emphasizes the partnership between love and hatred that I experienced growing up.” Taylor’s bodies merge and mutate, their fluids flow freely out and between them; modern-day madonnas spurt milk like stigmata, redefining the mythology of maternal nurture as costly sacrifice.

Reimagining history and myth creates opportunities for identity to transcend the constraints of ritual and role-play, especially within the crucible of childhood wherein the self is first formed. Carrie Mae Weems adopts and updates Classical Greek mythology in May Flowers, a trio of beribboned African American girls, framed in tondo, Renaissance-style as three contemporary graces. The central figure’s gaze is direct and frontal: their roles—as muses and more—are neither imposed nor fixed, but self-asserted, reframing, reclaiming the stage of art history.  Weems’ Kitchen Table Series presents domestic drama as the central stage for re-envisioning gender and family roles, with the artist cast in the center, empowered to embody, represent, and speak for a breadth of humanity: “I use myself simply as a vehicle for approaching the question of power. It is never about me; it’s always about something larger,” says the artist. “I use my own constructed image as a vehicle for questioning ideas about the role of tradition, the nature of family, monogamy, polygamy, relationships between men and women, between women and children, and between women and other women—underscoring the critical problem and the possible resolves.”

Daily rituals and communal rites continue to shape identity and define the politics of family and society; in OFF-SPRING, transformations of iconic imagery from spheres both sacred and profane generate a new power, the power of potential and change.

Alice Gray Stites, Chief Curator


Yolanda del Amo (Spanish)
Edith, Juan,  2007
Pigmented inkjet print

Lauren Argo (American)
Dreamself (Spirit) from the Farmer’s Daughter Cycle, 2008
Family Tree from the Farmer’s Daughter Cycle, 2008
Farmer’s Daughter from the Farmer’s Daughter Cycle, 2008
Farmer with Shovel from the Farmer’s Daughter Cycle, 2008
Funeral from the Farmer’s Daughter Cycle, 2008
Laundry from the Farmer’s Daughter Cycle, 2008
Mother with Duster from the Farmer’s Daughter Cycle, 2008
Digital color prints

Gehard Demetz (Italian)
How You Reacted was Right, 2011
It is Warmer Now, 2011
Lime wood and acrylic paint

Elena Dorfman (American)
Azra 1, 2002
Ginger Brook 4, 2001
Lily 1, 2004
Chromogenic prints

Adriana Duque (Colombian)
Daniel, 2009
Felipe, 2009

Nathalia Edenmont (Ukrainian)
Lost, 2007
Chromogenic print

Angela Ellsworth (American)
Seer Bonnet XXI (Eliza) and Seer Bonnet XX (Emily), 2011
39,804 pearl corsages pins, fabric, steel, wood

Lalla Essaydi (Moroccan)
Bullets Revisited #20, 2013
Les Femmes du Maroc: Harem Women Writing, 2008
Chromogenic prints

Anthony Goicolea (American)
Ash Wednesday, 2001
Tree Dwellers, 2005
Chromogenic prints
Warriors, 2001
Black and white photograph

Heather Goodchild (Canadian)
Burying the Curse, 2008
Finding the Path, 2008
Meeting the Outsider, 2008
Wool, clay, wire, lace, silk, fur, antique clock box

Frances Goodman (South African)
Relationships Made Simple: Compromise, 2010
Relationships Made Simple: Oprah’s Advice, 2010
Relationships Made Simple: The Age Equation, 2010
Chiffon, embroidery, lace and wood

The Dream, 2010-2016
Silk, lace, organza, satin, beads, embroidery thread, wedding dresses, sound installation

Ren Hang (Chinese)

Untitled, 2012
Chromogenic print

Gottfried Helnwein (Austrian)
Sleep 2, 2005
Oil, acrylic and inkjet print on canvas
Untitled (Portrait of a Child), 2005
Oil and acrylic on canvas

Li Hongbo (Chinese)
Absorption No. 5, 2015
Books, desk, chair

Hendrik Kerstens (Dutch)
Bathing cap, 1992
Chromogenic print

Eva Koch (Danish)
Approach, 2005
Video, running time 3:20 minutes

Ellen Kooi (Dutch)
Katwiijk – bomen, 2005
Overveen – Klif, 2007
The Dike (Schellinkhout-de dijk), 2000
Waterside (Waterkant), 2002-2003
Enduraflex print

Fay Ku (Taiwanese)
Return to Camp, 2006
Snared, 2006
Tiger Forest II, 2006
Graphite on gray paper

Deana Lawson (American)
Coulson Family, 2008
Oath, 2013
Inkjet prints

leonardogillesfleur (Argentine, French)
Irreconcilable Differences #1, 2005
Metal, leather, rubber and plastic

Irreconcilable Differences #2, 2005
Digital chromogenic print

Laurie Lipton (American)
Haunted Dollhouse, 2005
Charcoal and pencil on paper

Loretta Lux (German)
Milo 2, 2004
Portrait of a Girl #1, 2000
Portrait of a Girl #2, 2000
The Book, 2003
The Bride, 2003
Troll 2, 2000
Ilfochrome prints

David Magnusson (Swedish)
Hope and Jay Smallwood, Haughton, Louisiana, 2011
Laila, Antonio and Maya Sa, Colorado Springs, Colorado, 2011
Pierce and Jasmine Nunley, Grand Cane, Louisiana, 2011
Rose and Randall Smoak, Dixie, Louisiana, 2011
Archival pigment prints from color negatives

Mohau Modisakeng (South African)
Inzilo, 2013
Single-channel digital video, running time 4:57 minutes

Cobi Moules (American)
Untitled (Coast of Maine), 2016
Oil on canvas

Beth Moysés (Brazilian)
Reconstructing Dreams series, 2004 – 2005
Chromogenic prints on aluminum

Reconstructing Dreams: Bride’s Performance, 2005
Single-channel video, running time 5:30 minutes

Sofie Muller (Belgian)
Clarysse, 2011
Patinated bronze, wooden desk

Timothy Paul Myers (Australian) and Andrew Barnes (American)
The living room, 2015 – 2016
Felt, flocking, wood, wire, foam core, sitting chair, lamp, books, lint brush, cans, bottles, cups and mixed media

Julie Nord (Danish)
A Distant Aunt, 2011
Impending Doom, 2005
The Niece, 2011
Unknown Relative (Wilbur), 2011
Felt tip pen and watercolor on paper

Hans Op de Beeck (Belgian)
All Together Now…, 2006
Single-channel video with sound, running time 6:20 minutes

Julia Page (American)
Heir Apparent, 2005
Digital video installation, running time 6:55 minutes

Christa Parravani (American)
Before the Meadow, 2006
Harvest, 2006
Chromogenic prints

Robert Pettena (English)
Victorian Play, 2002
Single-channel video, running time 26:00 minutes
Victorian Play, 2002

Gina Phillips (American)
A Sentimental Tree Reminisces, 2012
Fabric, thread, ink, paint

Adriaan van der Ploeg (Dutch)
Headshots (Chinese), 2008
Headshots (European), 2007
Chromogenic prints

Chris Radtke (American)
Progeny (2) pink, 2013
Nylon mesh, monofilament
Courtesy of the Artist

Asya Reznikov (Russian)
Packing: Bride, 2009
Video installation

Chris Roberts-Antieau (American)
Murder House, 2015
Mixed media

Carlos and Jason Sanchez (Canadian)
The Baptism, 2003
Chromogenic print

Chiharu Shiota (Japanese)
State of Being (Dress), 2016
Metal frame, dresses with white thread

Tracey Snelling (American)
Rue de Flandre, 2007
Wood, tree, plaster, paint, lights, LCD screen, media player, transformer

Laetitia Soulier (French)
The Matryoshka Dolls 2, 2015
Chromogenic print

Lucy Sparrow (English)
His n’ Hers, 2015
Handmade felt and cabinets

Vee Speers (Australian)
Untitled # 1, from the series Bulletproof, 2013
Untitled # 3, from the series Bulletproof, 2013
Untitled # 6, from the series Bulletproof, 2013
Untitled #3, from the series The Birthday Party, 2007
Untitled #15, from the series The Birthday Party, 2007
Untitled #16, from the series The Birthday Party, 2007
Untitled #20, from the series The Birthday Party, 2007
Chromogenic prints

Stacey Steers (American)
Night Hunter House, 2011
Wood, screens, paint, feathers, textiles, doll house furniture, film

Josephine Taylor (American)
Bomb Landscape #1, 2007
Ink, gouache, and colored pencil on paper
Self-Portrait as a Puppet, 2002
Ink on paper
UNAFK, 2016
Acrylic ink and pigment on paper

Sam Taylor-Johnson (English)
Pietà, 2001
Chromogenic print

Carrie Mae Weems (American)
May Flowers, 2002
Chromogenic print
Untitled (Woman and Daughter with Make-up) from the Kitchen Table series, 1990-2010
Hand-printed silver gelatin print