Identity Shift

A Museum of Contemporary art Cleveland exhibit showcases artists changing the image of our region through abnormal practices. 

The days when the Rust Belt's factory towns were booming are long gone, but that doesn't mean we've stopped making interesting things. The Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland is showcasing unusual works by artists from Ohio and beyond with its new exhibit, Realization is Better Than Anticipation, running through Oct. 13. The group show highlights 12 artists who are pushing the boundaries of art through unconventional methods. "It's a show about possibilities and a way to start a conversation about contemporary practices from artists who have new ways of seeing and creating," says assistant curator Rose Bouthillier. "All of them start by responding to an object or a medium through an experimental process." We talked with three artists about the practices that inspire their nontraditional art.

SCOTT OLSON » An abstract painting by Kent-based artist Scott Olson goes beyond being a piece to be viewed. "My painting is more about the craft than just conveying an image," Olson says. "I'm interested in the physicality of the pigment and how each material serves a different purpose." He is particularly drawn to colors with organic origins, with much of his work featuring earth tones splattered in a mirage of free-flowing shapes. "I don't strive to be different, but a lot of painters are too controlled," he says. "I like a lack of control."
LENKA CLAYTON » Conceptual Pittsburgh artist Lenka Clayton is drawn to the stories behind objects she finds at thrift shops and estate sales. "Beachcombing was a big part of my life growing up, and I'm constantly looking for things, particularly incomplete things," she says. Clayton will present four found text works with animated components, including an anonymous diary she calls Accidental Haiku, which can be heard on headphones. She has also re-mailed 100 postcards from 1898-1996 to their original Cleveland addresses with the ones unable to reach those destinations to be displayed at the museum. "I'm testing to see if they function twice, to see if they reach different audiences."
KEVIN BEASLEY » Although Kevin Beasley lives in New York City, his art remains influenced by seven years spent in Detroit, where he studied at the College of Creative Studies and co-founded the Cave, a collective studio and gallery. That is also where he started to work with found and discarded objects, a practice he still does today. Beasley is exhibiting a series of monoprints, a sculpture and a slide-specific sound piece, which will play Sept. 7 at the Cozad-Bates house across the street from MOCA. "Most of my work is sculptural and object-based," he says. "An experiential process makes more sense to me, no matter what the form or media. I'm interested in the relationship between the viewer, the work itself and the space it's in."
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