Curatorial Projects > Don't Try This at Home (2007)

Don't Try This at Home

A group exhibition featuring work by Tamara Albaitis, Lauren Davies, Krishna Khalsa, Stephani Martinez, and Zachary Royer Scholz.

September 17 - October 13, 2007
Intersection for the Arts
San Francisco, CA

The artists in this exhibition share a compulsion for time and labor-intensive, craft-inspired processes in order to re-envision everyday household items into remarkably inventive and resourceful works of art. This complex exhibition seeks to find and demonstrate basic but profound and deeply poetic interactions with material that we come across every day.

Tamara Albaitis is the first person in the U.S. to graduate with a Master's Degree in Sound Art. Her pieces are equally aural and sculptural. She uses speaker wire not only as functional material between her constructed soundscapes and the speakers that transmit them to our ears, but also as lines on the canvas of the room. Her interest in daily rituals, routines, and everyday objects emphasize temporal progression; she uses sounds that evoke universal, common experiences. In this particular exhibition, Albaitis creates humorous masses of speaker wire that cough and hack as if someone were being suffocated by the sheer density of kinked and jumbled black lines. She also depicts a common household corner where the sounds of inside and outside commingle in a dance of internal mumbled dialogue and the reality of wailing sirens screaming through city streets, setting the stage for the perceived safety and comfort of home.

Lauren Davies' deceivingly playful corner installation of lintballs and collection of dog sculptures challenge our assumptions of household waste. Instead of being viewed as undesired byproducts of the weekly load of laundry or of the frequent brushing of dogs and removal of hair from the living room furniture, Davies actively collects these as raw source material for these series of works. The copious dryer lint collection that she has amassed over the years grew substantially in the past several weeks, with family, friends, colleagues, and acquaintances all coming forward with their bags of lint diverted from the garbage can. Peer in for a closer look, and you can see hair, torn up bits of candy wrappers, and the millions of fibers from washed and dried t-shirts, bath towels, blankets, jeans, socks. The dogs are anatomically correct scaled versions of West Highland White Terriers, of which Davies has three. The outer surface is West Highland White Terrier hair as well. She conjures up a world of fantastical proportions, where the overlooked detritus of home become reanimated items.

Many of the pieces in this exhibition invite a moment of reflection to take a deeper look at the actual materials. Krishna Khalsa’s meticulously crafted wall and ceiling installations are made out of precisely cut pieces of 2 by 4 planks of wood predominant in the construction of the interior framing of homes. She leaves the commercial markings in plain sight - the manufacturer's stamp, the barcode price tag. Whether single story ranch, multi-story condominium, or oblong Victorian, these pieces of wood ultimately shape the individual character of each home. Rather than remaining hidden behind layers of sheetrock and paint, Khalsa takes the same construction grade wood and flips the equation of interior and exterior. She takes the latent quality of planks of wood and dreams of what could exist if they exuded from the walls and ceiling.

Stephani Martinez has been collecting handmade doilies and hundreds of buttons for years. Inspired by memories of sugar-hardened doilies at her great aunt's house, she has focused on doilies and embroidery work as rejected symbols of femininity and domesticity as well as the labor of the women who made them. Her site-specific installations congregate a lavish amount of one-of-a kind pieces into visual testaments commenting upon rejected symbols of femininity and domesticity. She takes these items often relegated to the second-hand bin and reconfigures them into meditations of a time and culture that has passed.

Zachary Royer Scholz’s sculptures are created from the outer skins of two couches – one from a friend’s house, one from his studio. Objects that we count on to provide a reflective break from time working in the studio, or for tossing our bags and bodies onto returning home after a long day. After thoroughly dissecting these objects layer by layer, and disassembling internal skeletal structures and exterior skins, he highlights a singular quality of the couches. He expands the hyper-saturated surface area of a Happy Days era couch and places unsoiled arm and backing pieces of leather next to ones dark from years of wear, dyed with the residue of black jeans and leather jackets, turning them into sculptural works that feel familiar yet exotic, eye-catching yet unsightly, attractive yet repulsive.