SEED SPACE ART + TECH LAB
“Talking Talking House” By Andrew O’Brien
January 12, 2015 – February 14, 2015
Comprised of a custom built deck and a series of Realty Electronics Talking House radio transmitters, “Talking Talking House” elucidates the fraught relationship between interior and exterior space in the modern American home.
Both the deck-as-addition and the Talking House transmitter embody a do-it-yourself spirit meant to enhance access: the deck brings the homeowner comfortably to the outdoors, the Talking House transmitter brings the potential homebuyer safely inside the private residence up for sale. In positioning these elements within the same context, O’Brien investigates what are essentially mirror images of desire orbiting a conversation centered on access and value in contemporary domestic life.
Andrew O’Brien was born and raised in Southern Maryland. He recently relocated from New York City to serve as an Assistant Professor of Art at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. While in New York, O’Brien worked as head preparator for Yancey Richardson Gallery. He has also taught at the University of Oregon, where he received his MFA in 2009. His artistic practice is shaped by an early interest in science and the natural world, which led to an internship for NASA and Astronomy studies at the University of Arizona before he turned to fine art exclusively. Other vital experiences include conservation work with the Bureau of Land Management in Arizona and volunteer work with non-profit NGO’s in the Southwest region, where he was exposed to the complex political and geographic environment of the US-Mexico border. He has exhibited at Archer Gallery, Clark College, Vancouver WA, Greenleaf Gallery, Whittier College, Whittier, CA, and Blackfish Gallery, Portland, OR among others.
“The Cloud Story Project” By Jana Harper
For “The Cloud Story Project,” Jana Harper works with the community to explore notions of perspective, connection and environment through cloud imagery. Inspired by her search to recover thousands of photographic negatives of clouds taken by her mother who was diagnosed with Bipolar I, Harper aims to study, contextualize, and equalize her mother’s obsession with clouds through the thoughts, stories, and experiences of many others.
Harper has been working with 4 and 5 years olds from the Mama Lere School on Vanderbilt campus. In collaboration with their teacher, Rob Schaffer, they have designed a “cloud project” focus for the week of fall break, Oct 6-10. Monday they looked at famous cloud paintings in art history and then they made paintings of their own. Later, they made clouds on sticks in preparation for a “cloud parade” which will be documented on film.
“Athens of the South” By John Warren
“Athens of the South” is inspired by John Dewey’s belief that communication creates a great community, and that citizens who participate actively with public life contribute to that community. In “The Public and its Problems,” he writes:
“The clear consciousness of a communal life, in all its implications, constitutes the idea of democracy.”
John Warren has been teaching video art to underserved students at Maplewood High School in East Nashville every Friday since early October. He’s working with about 60 students to make self-portrait videos, observational documentaries about life around the school (ROTC, an auto body shop, etc.), funny fake trailers, and rap videos.
On Friday, December 5th, the students will travel to Seed Space to see their films projected in an art gallery setting.
“The experience for me has been fun and challenging (both to be expected). The unexpected thing for me has been the way in which my little artistic intervention has had a positive impact on the lives of some students. Upon first meeting, the students were difficult and not interested in anything I was teaching. But I quickly won their trust by listening to them as individuals and understanding what was important to them. Mike Mitchell, the classroom teacher who works with them all week, has told me stories about the positive impact that my workshop continues to have on the students after I’ve left—students who were not interested in school, suddenly incorporating lessons from this workshop into other channels of their schoolwork or lives. In addition to teaching them how to put movies together, I am endorsing a definition of knowledge that emphasizes their personal experience, which seems contrary to the definition of knowledge endorsed by public high schools (i.e., “teach for the test”), which is not a formula that is usefully to many of these students. Some of their lives are harder than you or I could imagine—just one example, a student is making a project about his cousin who was shot and killed—and they do not see themselves succeeding in the school. But my workshop has demonstrated for some how understanding their personal knowledge can help them understand more general processes of society.” –John Warren, Nov. 15, 2014