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What a first year…from early musings to many artists

By December 25, 2015

Another year comes to a close, another year begins. With the arrival of 2016, we venture still further into the angsty teens of the 21st Century. Our current time, at worst, registers daily as a constant deluge of transient sensations and empty rhetoric hypermediated through countless devices, websites, channels, and feeds. At best, the historical moment seems to legitimately hold the possibility of significant societal transformation. The once rigid notions of individual and community identity reinforcing systemic inequality appear to be cracking (if not without turmoil) under the pressures of widespread protest, disruptive technologies, and shifting power dynamics.

In the throes of such instability and seismic change, Pair Shaped launched just over a year ago to bring artists together interested in developing share-and-response series of works for public discussion. Specifically, we wanted to establish a platform for contributors to collaborate across discipline and medium. The results following from such a simple exchange format, or creative dialogue, have not only proven to be rewarding, but also served as a fascinating early foray into the still largely unexplored realms of interdisciplinary art practice and exhibition.

Over the last 12 months, our platform has published 16 complete series of works comprised of over 120 individual pieces by 30 artists representing various disciplines. And, with more than 70 additional contributors submitting original work for exhibition on pairshaped.org in the coming year, Pair Shaped continues to evolve as a space fostering new ways to approach artistic practice and participation more broadly. More than anything else, our inaugural year demonstrated the exciting potential inherent in breaking down boundaries between disciplines and mediums for enriching the experiences of both artists and audiences alike.

The series published in 2015 represent an impressive range of practitioners, aesthetics and ideas. Poets partnered with sculptors. Photographers worked with prose writers. Music composers reacted to painters. To reference just a few of the pairings. As anticipated in our first blog entry, the collection of series now available in our library certainly dove head first “into something challenging and unknown.” Most intriguingly, artists have used their collaborative work on Pair Shaped to critically engage, whether explicitly or indirectly, the shifting cultural contexts in which we now find ourselves. Without compromising artistic ingenuity, contributors produced series admirable in their ability to balance creative verve and craft alongside a resonate commentary on the volatile, everyday complexities of contemporary life.

But, you should judge for yourself. So, in case you missed them, here’s a quick rundown of all the 2015 series and the artists responsible:

Series 1 > Weston Lyon (photography) and Tony Cleasby (prose): Ominous quotidian moments meet threats of violence and ennui in equal doses. Though stark and mysterious, wry subversions always lurk around the corner in this first series.

Series 2 > Heather Sten (photography) and April Wolfe (prose): This series occupies a lonely, if frenetic space with women ‘on the brink’ navigating their own mediated dreams. Calm, controlled imagery is belied by humor and hints at inner tumult.

Series 3 > J. Adam Collins (poetry) and Claire Krueger (video): The schism of self as molded from fragments of memory and hindsight. Shadows of juvenile life mesh with adult recollection, roadway fever dreams and “going for miles without a map.”

Series 4 > Robert Beam (photography) and Kristin Howe (poetry): Human patterns examined with light touch and keen empathy. Intimate dealings with ritual and, convention expand into “holes in the sky burned by time travel and beauty.”

Series 5 > Ken Camden (music composition) and Weston Lyon (video): Compelling exercise in gradually developing a synchronicity (or dissonance?) of visual/musical language. All comes together in a strange and mesmerizing final video entry.

Series 6 > Kohl King (sculpture) and Amber Nelson (poetry): Finding the work in layered materials and language, this series grapples with ‘piecing together’ sutured states of being as survived through flawed, essential relationships.

Series 7 > Chris Osborn (music composition) and Ayumi Takahashi (painting): Gracefully tracking the interplay of private euphorias and social enmeshments, this potent series amplifies the human rhythms moving from entry to expansive entry.

Series 8 > Brooks Dierdorff (photography) and Elizabeth Hazen (poetry): Entries in this series give perspectives on ‘incongruous’ ideas that both subvert and, ironically, find expression through systems meant to suppress volatile thought and action.

Series 9 > Eizabeth Crisman (photography) and Jen Michalski (prose): Subtle photographic prompts steer this series from a road romance into a more elaborate allegorical rumination on transitioning a turbulent past into the vulnerable present.

Series 10 > and Series 11 > Adler & Edmark (mixed media) and Earl Gravy (mixed media): These series track the progression of our 4-Way, 2-Pack summer show that moved from an online exchange to an onsite Los Angeles-based exhibition. Read more on the show here.

Series 12 > Carla Harris (photography) and A. Minetta Gould (poetry): From nature we hope to divine the meaning our relationships with both the self and others. However, as this series shows, ‘elemental forces’ disallow easy apprehension.

Series 13 > Nicole Trimble (painting) and J. Adam Collins (poetry): Layered dialogues pry into the sinews of mysteries between intimates. Emotional misfires and near collisions draw towards irresistible, but never fully realized connection.

Series 14 > Donald Dunbar (poetry) and Michael Matchen (sound composition):
Reeling, firestorm poetry leads to responsive sonic compositions honing in on discovered human rhythms, or the “antidote in the babel”.

Series 15 > Niccola Devereaux (painting) and Ruben Vincent (painting): Fiercely independent sensibilities communicate in different languages, together. Indeed, the dialectic between these two painters becomes a thoughtful reflection on difference.

Series 16 > Amanda Bennett (prose) and Brittany Bennett (textiles / photography): The real-life Bennett sisters create interweaving patterns of detainment to provide a stage for the secret lives of precocious siblings and their waiting parents.

So, if you haven’t already, check out the series above. They’re worth your wandering eyes.

Stay tuned. Much more awaits in 2016. Do resolve yourself to keep abreast of Pair Shaped updates and series to come.

Happy New Year!

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