On view: September 15 – October 26, 2022
Reception: September 15, 6-8pm
This group exhibition explores various conceptions of animality in the contexts of domesticity, wildness, and spirituality. The show is curated by Dr. Giovanni Aloi and Maria Bronkema. Aloi is an Art Historian based at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Editor of Antennae: The Journal of Nature in Visual Culture. He is Co-editor of the Art after Nature book series at the University of Minnesota Press and US Correspondent for Esse Arts + Opinions magazine. Bronkema, a longtime Fountain House Gallery artist, conducts weekly “Animal Sketching” classes at Fountain House.
In a joint statement, the curators said: “Animal Crossing aims to educate the public and encourage society to celebrate our planet’s diverse wildlife. From wild animals to domestic companions, relating to animals can be a humbling experience that helps generate empathy for oneself and for others. As we learn more about each animal, we get an intimate glimpse of why we experience transference with them. An elephant might represent our aunt, a nurturer. The weasel is an amazing trickster – a hunter all year round. At home, we transfer feelings to our pets as they become our child, friend, and companion. All our intimate experiences are evident in our art of animals in the wild and from home that we choose to create and share. Animals intersect with us in multiple ways: culturally (symbolically through mascots, national flags, folklore), spiritually, and physically (animals in an urban environment, wildlife preserves, etc.). How would you feel if this animal disappeared? Finding ways to preserve the ecological balance is an urgent call to action, and highlighting our special connection with animals will aid us in preserving them and the environment.”
Commenting on individual works in the exhibition, Aloi said, “Miguel Colón’s Silent Conversation and Anthony Newton’s Who’s the Master? explore the complex relationships we establish with our pets – at some times based on power and at other times on symbiosis. Pets define us in ways that may elude us and can be better grasped through art. The work of Sally Fisher and Shelia Horne considers the relationship between nature and culture through enigmatic images of urban realities in which animals appear to be either captive or making the most of the urban environment. The collage works of Maria Bronkema and Donna Faiella explore the construction of nature through the specific materiality of the medium. Across different media and stylistic approaches, the works in Animal Crossing invite us to rethink our relationship with animals beyond the simplistic representations of the past. Not always beautiful and awe-inspiring, the animals presented in this exhibition are important affective mediators in our relationship with reality.”
This program is funded, in part, by generous support from the Renate, Hans and Maria Hofmann Trust, the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, the David Rockefeller Fund, and the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund.
About Fountain House Gallery: Fountain House Gallery and Studio supports the careers and creative visions of artists living with mental illness. Founded by Fountain House in 2000, the Manhattan-based Gallery sells original artworks and collaborates with a wide network of artists, curators and cultural institutions. The Studio, located in Long Island City, is a collaborative workspace that furthers the professional practice of our artists. Embracing artists who are emerging or established, trained or self-taught, Fountain House Gallery cultivates artistic growth, makes a vital contribution to the New York arts community, and challenges the stigma surrounding mental illness.