Charlotte Street Foundation identifies the needs and fuels the evolution of an ever-changing multidisciplinary arts ecosystem, acting as its primary provocateur. We cultivate the contemporary, the exceptional, and the unexpected in the practice of artists working in and engaging with the Kansas City Art Community
by Lucas Wetzel
From now through March 5, the exhibit “What Will You Think Tomorrow?” is on display at Paragraph Gallery, featuring drawings, collage and sculpture by Charlotte Street studio residents Daiana Oneto and Kadie Nugent.
The installation combines Daiana’s interest in human form with Kadie’s work with wires and drawing, but since you can’t really tell who has done what, it feels like a true collaboration.
Because I work near the gallery, I got to see the show unfold through the window during the two-week installation period. At times it was hard to tell what was going on, so it was super interesting to read Daiana’s post about how it all came together through many hours of trial, error and creation.
The finished result (though it feels more “living” than “finished) is a joy to explore. Initially, the drawings look frenetic and scattered, but upon closer examination, the linework is balanced and even soothing. The overlapping lines and shapes are reminiscent of a Picasso drawing, with the 3-dimensional geometric playfulness of a Jean Dubuffet sculpture.
Exhibits at Paragraph often feature several artists, but in this case, less is definitely more, not just in terms of the number of artists featured, but in the use of black and white rather than color, and the refreshing lack of text on the walls. Both recent graduates of KCAI, Daiana Oneto and Kadie Nugent already have some impressive accomplishments under their belts, and I look forward to seeing what they do in the future.
The exhibit’s curator, Andrew Lyles, deserves a lot of credit as well for having the vision to pair these two artists together, and to put together a show featuring entirely new material. Andrew, a 2010 graduate of KCAI in painting, ran the Spray Booth Gallery in the Crossroads from 2010 to 2013. Last week, I corresponded with him via email to discuss the curatorial process and how “What Will You Think Tomorrow” came together. An edited Q&A is below the photo (courtesy of Daiana Oneto).
What interested you in Daiana’s and Kadie’s work, respectively?
Drawing! The Earthwork artist Andy Goldsworthy said something along the lines of, “Drawing is not literally only pencil and pen… drawing can be found by plants drawing water from the earth or drawing water from a valley…” Drawing has a tenacious nature of being what’s put into action first, and can be used to put ideas to the test, helping us make things that would otherwise just remain ideas. Both artists have beautiful narratives that are enveloped with fine to thick lines of detail and nuance.
How did the artists wind up collaborating? Was that the plan from the start?
In the back of my mind, I knew I wanted two or more people to work together in some sort of collaborative way by either making new work together or by one artist making a piece and someone else responding to that gesture. I didn’t want to go to people’s studios and select artwork to be in a show.
Giving artists the opportunity to use a space as a blank canvas and letting them run with their ideas is a great reward. At the Charlotte Street Studio Residency slide slam, Kadie and Daiana had mentioned that they would like the opportunity to work on a larger scale, so that’s something I ran with. Kadie and Daiana opened the dialogue up to collaborating because they wanted something new to get themselves out of what was going on in their own studios. They both had a level of understanding of and really admired each others’ work.
What are the benefits of using black and white as opposed to a wider color palette?
Taking away color allows more space and ideas to filter into the work. They would rather have a viewer taken into detailed, descriptive line work, shapes, and textures. Color would be seen first and the drawing second, so in this case it’s been taken away from the palate. I’m sure in the past, Kadie and Daiana have put color to the test in their work, but through time they may have learned that color can sometimes play too dominant of a role in the work to get at the true nature of what they are interested in, which in this case is shape, texture and drawing.
In understanding why subjects succeed in one situation and fail in another, one has to make inferences about the kind of process that goes on in their nervous system or minds. For example, the natures of problem-solving by “insight” can only be described if one knows what mechanism it involves. The term “insight” refers to sight and raises the question of how much perceptual awareness of the problem a situation contributes. In other words, color isn’t important here because it interferes with the meaning and interpretation both artists would hope to convey.
You can also still find color in whites and blacks. For example, take a magazine and cut out all the blacks and whites and place them all side by side, and you’ll find different temperatures of actual color immersed within them, such as warm yellows-oranges, warm greens, and cold blues.
What are the joys and challenges of working as a guest curator in a concrete, semi-industrial space like Paragraph? How is this show different than the ones you organized at Spray Booth?
I felt that Charlotte Street trusted me, just like I’ve trusted artists in the past to take on the space at their own pace. It seems very risky, but that also allows for the artists to take on the space, learn, and work any time of day. Getting the opportunity to work on site in a space for a few days to weeks is rewarding for artists. It facilitates learning about one’s work through immersing themselves in what’s working right now for them versus something else.
Having a show isn’t about filling up the walls with one’s work. It has to have gone through trial, error, and a crazy editing processes that would seem tumultuous to others. That’s something that Spray Booth allowed and CSF does, too.
This process gets at the true secrets of artistic processes, and yet what all artists hope to achieve through and from the work itself is honesty. Artists’ habits breathe the same life force that allows artwork to be completely honest to the viewer and artists themselves.
I like that the title of the exhibition is a question. It resists labeling the artwork in favor of creating anticipation and reflection on the part of the viewer. Can you tell us anything about how you chose the title?
I don’t know how I actually got the title. I was probably struck by something I read, because I hadn’t met either artist yet and was under a deadline to come up with a title for the show and what I hoped the show would be. That’s why I put the title as a question, because no one will get a second shot at what they already put out for the world to see the previous day. I also didn’t want the artists to get hung up on the title of the show and react to making work just to fit a title.
Are there any guidelines for experiencing the show, or should people just show up and immerse themselves in the environment that Kadie and Daiana have created?
People should go and immerse themselves and not get caught up in that moment with trying to figure out what it all means. Experience the show and hopefully you can meet with friends or family later, explaining to them what you saw. The moment someone rambles about the show, they will find all the meaning they were searching for.