April 1-June 9, 2011
Viewing and Discussion: Friday April 1, 2011 5:30-8:00pm
6:00-7:00 Tea and viewing
(other viewings by special appointment only)
The No-Eyes Viewing Wall at Brooklyn Zen Center is pleased to present Washed Up, a multi-dimensional collaboration between sculptors Ellen Driscoll and Robert Oxnam. In addition to premiering their installation on the wall, the artists, who have never before worked together, will engage the Brooklyn Zen community in a discussion on states of creative mind. A transcript of the discussion will then become part of the exhibition.
Ellen and Robert are gleaners of found objects, which they transform, magician-like, with intuition, ingenuity and precision. Ellen, who collects her raw material in early morning rambles through Brooklyn, converts plastic water bottles into undulating and intricate nets containing miniature architectural elements. Robert’s long driftwood hunts on the beaches on the North Fork of Long Island yield waterlogged treasure, which he carefully crafts into poised and balanced sculptures, evocative of Chinese scholars’ rocks. For both artists, collection is of equal importance to the labor of making that takes place in their respective studios. Repeatedly walking down streets or beaches, the artists use their bodies to mark the landscape of their daily lives. When they collect “washed up” detritus, they are dipping into an invisible flow. A piece of driftwood lying on the beach or a plastic water bottle in the trash may seem static but they are dynamic elements of great oceanic currents and cycles of global trash, powerful forces that throw our lives into perspective, and point the way toward impermanence.
Washed Up expresses an inward journey as well, seen through the minds of these artists, who have agreed to step away from a singular conception of “I, the creator/artist” and merge their practices on the No-Eyes Viewing Wall to create an interwoven installation that is uncontrolled, with no known outcome. This leap requires trust and comfort with multiplicity and uncertainty, conditions with which both artists are familiar. In his late 40’s, Robert discovered that he suffered from Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) and spent years learning to listen to the many voices within himself and ultimately to make peace with his condition (this journey became a book called A Fractured Mind). When Robert began working with driftwood just a few years ago, he experienced an extraordinary unity not present in other activities. Ellen, too, has discovered countless historical voices, which she has expressed through installations and community projects, and through which her own story unfolds with insight and wisdom. At the April 1st event, the artists will engage in a conversation about their extraordinary inward and outward journeys and the ways in which the generous mind has served as guide.
Curated by: Noah Fischer
Ellen Driscoll’s work encompasses sculpture, drawing, and public installation. Recent large-scale installations include FastForwardFossil #1 and #2 at Frederieke Taylor Gallery, and Smack Mellon, and “Revenant” and “Phantom Limb” for Nippon Ginko, Hiroshima, Japan. Earlier works include “The Loophole of Retreat” at the Whitney Museum at Phillip Morris; “As Above, So Below” for Grand Central Terminal (a suite of 20 mosaic and glass images for the tunnels at 45th, 47th, and 48th Streets); “Catching the Drift”, a restroom for the Smith College Museum of Art; and “Wingspun” for the International Arrivals corridor at Raleigh Durham airport. Ms. Driscoll has been awarded fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Bunting Institute at Harvard University, the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Massachusetts Council on the Arts, the LEF Foundation, the Rhode Island Foundation, and Anonymous Was a Woman. Her work is included in major public and private collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Whitney Museum of Art.
Robert Oxnam is the former president of the Asia Society (1981-92), America’s leading public education institution on all aspects of the Asia/Pacific region. In recent years, he has been an advisor the Bessemer Group, and a traveling China lecturer for various individuals (Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, President George H.W. Bush) and institutions (Society of International Business Fellows and Robinson College of Business). In the early 1990s, he served as Special Correspondent for the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour, where he hosted a nine-part special on China. Over the years, he has authored several non-fiction books on China (including Ruling From Horseback), two novels (Cinnabar and Ming), and a psychological autobiography (A Fractured Mind). He was educated at Williams College (BA) and Yale University (MA, PhD).
In recent years, he has engaged in several visual arts projects with special emphasis on sculpture. Over 2008-09, Oxnam has opened a new chapter – creating driftwood sculpture inspired by the great tradition of Chinese scholars’ rocks. His most recent exhibitions include: Chambers Fine Arts “Nature Found and Made” (summer 2009 at the ArtFarm designed by Ai Weiwei), Rockefeller Brothers Fund new headquarters (opening exhibition, 2009-2010), “Eye World” (one piece in an invited show of 72 artists from around the world at the Triple Candie Gallery in New York), and “Nature Spirits” (one person exhibition at the Interchurch Center in New York City.
Future confirmed exhibition: Barcelona, Spain (one person exhibition at Casa Asia, July-October, 2011)