On Exhibit: Exploring artists’ Instagram connection

'Double Vision' opening at HVCC's Teaching Gallery
The connection between artists' work and their Instagram accounts is explored in "Double Vision."
The connection between artists' work and their Instagram accounts is explored in "Double Vision."

There’s more than artwork on display at The Teaching Gallery in Troy. Connecting artists’ studio work with their personal Instagram accounts, the exhibit “Double Vision” shows that the “artist’s eye” goes well beyond the studio.

Take the sharp colors and the mess of lines and materials on Joan Grubin’s Instagram. At first, they seem like simple scenes of construction and city streets the New York City-based artist captured while walking. But pivoting to her studio work, the posts suddenly seem more intentional.

Using a blend of paper and tape, and something that looks like it could be delicious red licorice or an exercise band, Grubin created an installation, called “Partial Inventory 3,” that echoes some of her Instagram posts.

This is the second iteration of “Double Vision,” which first opened at the LABspace in Hillsdale. Curated by Janice Caswell and Erick Johnson, both NYC-based artists, it looked at ways in which artists were using Instagram to explore and extend their studio practice. 

The new iteration, which opens today at The Teaching Gallery of Hudson Valley Community College, involves more artists and more works. 

“It seemed relevant,” said Tara Fracalossi, associate professor and director of The Teaching Gallery. Not only to the students who are studying fine arts and digital arts, but also for the general public. 

The relationship between artists and technology has always been a topic of discussion in the art world. Although Instagram seems “new” in comparison with other mediums, it’s really just a platform to do what artists have done for decades. As the exhibition catalog notes, Ellsworth Kelly, a painter and sculptor, took photographs throughout his career, starting in the 1950s. For Kelly, photographs were a way to work through ideas and compositions in his mind. 

That sentiment seems to resonate with some of the artists in “Double Vision: Artists Who Instagram.” Perhaps the first piece viewers of the show might notice is a large, light green, inflatable sculpture by Doreen McCarthy. The twisted form is suspended from the ceiling and takes up much of the space high above one’s head. A series of three Instagram posts from McCarthy are hung on the wall adjacent to the work, called “Pause.” One post features a rusted mousetrap and old clamps that look as though they were suspended. Another features shiny black hair that has been styled into large curls, a similar shape to the sculptural “Pause.” 

While some artists enthusiastically embraced Instagram, it took others a while to warm up to the platform. Tom Nicol, an artist based in Mellenville in Columbia County, was part of the latter group. According to Fracalossi, Nicol’s daughter made an Instagram account for him because she knew he would appreciate the platform. While Nicol at first questioned whether the posts were actual compositions, it’s clear just from his posts included in the show that they are. His eye for both color and composition come through, and it’s easy to see how they play into his abstract studio work.

The 11 artists involved in the exhibit are predominately New York-based, though there are a few from Texas, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and much of their work leans toward abstraction. The selected posts from their Instagram accounts reveal that the platform is another way the artists compose and filter their surroundings, how they further develop their “eye.” 

The posts aren’t exotic: If anything, most seem mundane compared to the artists’ studio work. But the space between the posts and the studio work points to the importance of what happens between the two in the artists’ process. 

As Ellsworth Kelly said, “Things that interest me visually are things that anyone could have seen. . . . The process takes place in the mind.”   

“Double Vision: Artists Who Instagram” opens Thursday. From 3 to 4 p.m. at the Bulmer Telecommunications Center Auditorium, curators Caswell and Johnson will discuss the exhibition. Then there will be an opening reception from 4 to 6 p.m. at The Teaching Gallery, located in the Administrative Building, 80 Vandenburgh Ave., Troy. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, 1 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday and noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday. 

For information, visit hvcc.edu/teachinggallery

Other openings 

If you’re in the Saratoga Springs area, head to the Tang Teaching Museum for the opening of two new exhibitions. 

“Like Sugar” follows the sweet and sinister history of the sugar industry, from slavery to food injustice and so much in between. The exhibition examines sugar production and consumption, using works by contemporary artists as well as historical materials. 

The other exhibition to open, “The Second Buddha: Master of Time,” combines Tibetan scroll paintings, sculpture, textiles and manuscripts that date to the 13th century to explore how Padmasambhava, the Buddhist master who is believed to have brought Buddhism to Tibet, has been represented throughout history.

For information, visit tang.skidmore.edu. 

Categories: Art, Entertainment

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