TWO ARTISTS PRESENTING WORKS OF NOSTALGIA AND REFLECTION, OPENING OUR EYES TO THE FUTURE AT GREENHILL
(GREENSBORO, NC) Two Artists | One Space opens at GreenHill on February 1. In GreenHill’s gallery, concurrent one-person exhibitions by Cathy McLaurin and Dane Winkler ask us to question “what is authentic?” Both artists are excavators who mine the often overlooked histories of areas where the economic train has moved on and who uncover repositories of heritage, history, and value.
In their work, McLaurin and Winkler investigate losses to communities and their transformations of economies and cultures, with works responding to a sense belonging as well as displacement. McLaurin’s multi-media projects are rooted in archival research, utilizing video interviews, photographs, and collections of objects. She will present two installations at GreenHill, The North Wind and the Sun and The Reverend, His Lover, Their Monet and the Museum, with one focusing on the history of the poultry processing plant in Siler City, and the other looking at the town of Lawrence, cities that have undergone immense economic and cultural changes.
The North Wind and the Sun, an ongoing project that began in 2011, was initiated by the dramatic history of the Townsend poultry processing plant in the artist’s hometown of Siler City. In the 1980’s the plant hired Mexican, El Salvadoran and Guatemalan workers that led David Duke to rally Ku Klux Klan members on the steps of the Town Hall. McLaurin depicts this culture clash in a monumental collaged map. Through “unearthing hidden or unspoken knowledge of a place” questions are raised, and like a good whodunit, the answers lead the artist and viewers far beyond the initial premise. McLaurin says, “Mining my personal history and that of my chicken-farming family is a method of engaging with and reacting to an industry in order to peel back its veneer, revealing networks, power, desire, and histories that combine with historical and contemporary issues of race, immigration, and agribusiness.”
In her newest work, The Reverend, His Lover, Their Monet and The Museum, McLaurin looks at another town in the throes of transition – Lawrence, Massachusetts where she has run a non-profit art center for the past decade. Lawrence is one of the poorest cities of its size in the country with an over 95% immigrant population.
The story of Reverend William Edgar Wolcott who lived in Lawrence during the heyday of its textile industry immediately intrigued McLaurin. In 1911 Wolcott donated his art collection, including paintings by Monet and Pissarro, to the growing community he believed would soon rival Boston. While Lawrence’s economy declined after the war due to the relocation of cotton mills to the South, the value of the 17 paintings in the collection continued to rise, today worth an estimated $20 million. Without a museum in Lawrence to house them, the paintings have resided in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston for over a century.
McLaurin worked with carpenter/artist Kai Vlahos to create a mini-museum. This hand-crafted moveable cabinet is 10 feet long, 26 inches tall and 40 inches deep, with 17 small-scale commissioned reproductions of Wolcott’s collection. Included is also a marionette puppet in the likeness of Wolcott. This recent work considers art as currency and asks questions, such as: When does art gain value? What value? Whose values? Writer Louisa McCall states: “Platforms for discourse and engagement are critical in Lawrence, as in many American cities, all of which are undergoing profound transformations due to the global economy, the rise of immigrant labor and entrepreneurship, climate-change migration, social media and political turmoil. McLaurin is offering us an opportunity to interrogate this change through the lens of a controversial painting collection, to question concepts and values concerning the collection and to encourage people to understand those who think differently from them.”
Dane Winkler’s monumental sculptural installations reflect the transformations to post-industrial rural and small-town life that often have taken the form of a narrative of loss.
His tactile works are constructed from reclaimed barn lumber, lard, and bails of straw that are worn and marked by use. They are inspired by the artist’s experience of living on a small farm in upstate New York: “I utilize materials and concepts reminiscent of the farmyard landscape in conversation with distinct surrounding environments or ideas.” His works often incorporate references to agriculture and farming in the connection to crops and irrigation systems, and the marks these actions leave on the ground, as if they are unknowingly some kind of drawing machine. Winkler often collects materials on-site, such as earth and transposes it to the gallery.
Some of Winkler’s works are built in response to historical sites and figures. His 2018 interactive outdoor sculpture produced for the Franconia Sculpture Park entitled Fannie Salter Salute in rough sawn white pine, and fabricated steel suggests a grain silo, a lighthouse, a water tower, or an observatory. Winkler was inspired by the story of Fannie May Hudgins Salter, the last lighthouse keeper at Turkey Point in Maryland from 1935 to 1947: “It was Fannie’s job to fill the lamps with oil and switch lenses multiple times a day. If the light went out at night, she awoke. These jobs no longer exist as lighthouses are now automated. The structure offers a similar nostalgia to that of stories like Fannie May’s.”
A sense of nostalgia for the loss of certain traditional models of farm life led Winkler to imagine the possibilities of an otherworldly homestead: “How would an industry in another place function in comparison with a farm? What would the development of these practices leave behind as remnants or proof of their past?” Winkler explores these ideals through large-scale interactive sculptures that hint at peculiar machines vaguely reminiscent of artifacts here on earth. Using materials and ideas that reference both manufacturing and life on the farm, he compares and contrasts these notions. The work describes things like “vessels of travel, mark making tools, or agricultural product”. Each evokes the long history of man’s labor to carve out sites to live and prosper, yet each is left un-described for the viewer’s contemplation.
GreenHill’s gallery is open to the public Tuesday-Friday, 12-7pm, Saturday, 12-5 pm, and Sunday, 2-5pm.
About the Artists
Cathy McLaurin was born in Pittsboro, North Carolina, and lives in New Hampshire. She is the Executive Director at Essex Art Center in Lawrence, MA, where she has worked since 1998. In 2017, McLaurin was awarded grants in support of her work from New Hampshire Charitable Foundation’s Artist Advancement Grant, the Ella Lyman Cabot Trust, and Puffin Foundation. Her work has been included in several solo exhibitions, including at Columbus State University, Columbus, GA where she was Visiting Artist in Residence in 2017, and at Duke University, Durham, NC, as well as numerous group exhibitions.
Dane Winkler is currently an Assistant Professor of Sculpture at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He grew up on a small farm in upstate New York where he learned about animal husbandry alongside craftsmanship and hard work. He received his BFA from the State University of New York College at Plattsburgh in 2012 and his MFA at the University of Maryland College Park in 2016. His work has been exhibited nationally in solo and group exhibitions including; The Rosalux Gallery in Minnesota, Socrates Sculpture Park in New York City, the Hamiltonian Gallery in Washington DC, The Arlington Arts Center in Virginia, and the Delaware Contemporary Art Museum – to name a few. He has received many grants and awards, notably; The Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant in 2017/18, an Emergency grant from the Center for Contemporary Art in 2015, and a Forecast Public Arts planning grant in 2013.
GreenHill, located in Downtown Greensboro, is a nonprofit visual art center with the vital mission to support and advocate for the art and artists of our home state, North Carolina. At GreenHill professional artists have meaningful opportunities throughout their careers to participate in a wide range of exhibitions. We provide economic support to artists through the sale of their art in our world-class galleries. Novice artists, from toddlers and young students to lifelong learners, can learn and stretch their creative muscles through our studio-based educational programs. Tap into your creative side by making art, purchasing original works of art and viewing exhibitions that inspire and pique your imagination. At GreenHill there is something for everyone. For more information visit www.GreenHillNC.org.