The artistic image is not intended to represent the thing itself, but, rather, the reality of the force the thing contains. – James Baldwin
Art sometimes holds a mirror up to the world. Art may also represent the realities beneath the world’s illusions. This exhibition highlights art made directly from the things of the world. Showcasing works made from found materials in the YAM’s collection, it also debuts Butte artist Steve Wellman’s “Useless Objects.”
Best known as a painter, Steve Wellman also channels his humor and Dada sensibilities through found object sculpture and layered musical compositions. He transforms once-functional objects by shifting perspective, assemblage, and repetition. The titles are both humorous and poignant, evoking lost ways of working and being in the world.
Recent gifts by Missoula Artist Terry Karson (1950–2017) were prominently featured in the exhibition. The curator of the Yellowstone Art Museum from 1988–1993, his practice bridges two and three dimensions, conceptual art, fine craft, and architecture.
Commons (installed in the gallery corner) reflects Karson’s interest in detailed hand work, Islamic tile, commercial design, curation, and conceptual art. Karson cut, sorted, and arranged a grid of commercial graphics from product packaging. Sanded and waxed to emulate architectural marble, this work is curated as much as constructed. The scale and repetition of the corporate imagery alludes to historic craftsmanship as well as corporate branding and commerce.
Sara Mast and Terry Karson worked in collaboration to create the mixed-media work “Perdidos,” from a concept they developed during a residency on a butterfly preserve. Karson covers a symbol of home with commercial packaging from which he has cut the forms of butterflies. Mast’s abstract encaustic landscape incorporates broken glass, crushed cans, and reflective materials. In an interview with Curator Susan Barnett, Sara shares journal entries and stories about the process. View the interview on Facebook.
Also on exhibit were sculptures, collages, and mixed media works based on found materials by Deborah Butterfield, Tom Foolery, Robert Harrison, Jennifer Hawke, Kate Hunt, Tracy Linder, Sara Mast, Jon Lodge, Neltje, Robert Rauschenberg, Arin Waddell, and Robert DeWeese.