NEARLY NOT THERE
HANNAH NEWMAN + AIMEE ODUM
JULY 1 - JULY 29, 2017
RECEPTION: JULY 1, 6-9PM
Never in the history of the human race has the world been so small. The ache to experience is almost crippling- turning into more of a panging obligation than an interest in adventure. It’s unsurprising that so many words across languages define these feelings. Among countless others, take, for example, fernweh, a German word for an intense longing for far off places, or the latin Novaturient, the feeling of knowing you are not living the life you could be and the urge to go out and find it, or Onism, coined by Jon Koenig in his Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, which is the frustration of being stuck in just one body, that inhabits only one place at a time, knowing how little you’ll be able to experience.
Nearly Not There, a collaborative exhibition by Hannah Newman and Aimee Odum, presents a series of tangible manifestations of such wanderlust-fueled languishing, but also offers an extension of that ever-present itch; the added burden of managing digital and technological could-bes; the constant and expanding familiar unknowns that are a veritable Shrodinger’s cat of real-life experience.
Through arrangements of video and sculpture, Aimee Odum proposes that there is no distinction between experiencing the natural world and the digital world. Her disjointed objects and filmed atmospheres of forest, sea, and sky demand a “nowness” in the same way a screen of moving pixels and technological mediations elicit an attentive presence. Merging characteristics of the wilderness with filtered, faded colors and manipulated imagery, Odum turns dreamlike wonder into bodily beings. Here, she considers the malleable nature of video and clay alongside the impressionable nature of both our environment and ourselves; both transformations often assisted by the development of the digital frontier.
With a more deliberate crossover of the day-to-day digital and natural experiences, Hannah Newman pairs common tech-based moves with natural objects to create personal, recognizable imagery that breaks the wall between the screen and the landscape beyond it. On a wall-mounted iPad next to a stone tablet, we see a cursor navigating around a stock image of a desert, laboriously searching for clickable-links that may lead to a new experience. Newman’s work in Nearly Not There offers seemingly unlimited potential for discovery and further adventure, but that is quickly subverted by the familiar disappointment and boredom of unanswered messages and unfulfilling visual teasers.
As tensions to resolve the yearning for place, belonging, and contentment rise, a rippling effect of uneasiness moves through and towards the human body, technology and the natural world. Alternating between blunt and poetic, Newman and Odum give physical shape to the formlessness of this longing. Pointing to the impossibility of defining the shifting shapes of cultural and personal desire, Nearly Not There provides earnest gestures towards reconciling the physical, fantasized, and digital worlds.
Hannah Newman is an interdisciplinary artist exploring the capabilities of social media and digital platforms as new vehicles for carrying language. Her latest projects include: developing a Google Chrome extension that alters a user’s experience of the Google Chrome interface, a rearrangement of Thoreau’s Walden via text messages, and explorations into the creative power of digital .gifs. Her work has been shown regionally and nationally and has recently received press from the Duplex Gallery blog series and Rose City Art Review. Newman was awarded a 2017 Professional Development Award from the Regional Arts and Culture Council and is currently an artist-in-residence at Rainmaker Artist Residency. She received a Master of Fine Arts from Oregon College of Art and Craft in 2016 and a B.S in ceramics and art history from Indian Wesleyan University in 2011.
Aimee Odum is a visual artist in Brooklyn, New York and currently oversees the Jane Hartsook Gallery at Greenwich House Pottery. Odum received her MFA in Studio Art from University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. Here she also fulfilled curatorial endeavors and organized events as Director of sUgAR, University of Arkansas' student-run gallery, and as Director of sUgAR Vision, an Internet and Televised art platform. Recipient of the Sturgis International Fellowship, she was a Visiting Artist at Iceland Academy of the Arts in Autumn 2015 exhibiting her work at Mengi and The Living Art Museum. Recently, she premiered a collaborative, performance-based project in Belgium and was part of the traveling exhibition Running Towards Dreams exhibited in Fayetteville, AR and Tehran, Iran. Odum currently serves on the Organizational Committee for NYC’s Nasty Women, which held its inaugural exhibition January 2017 at the Knockdown Center in Queens. Her studio practice utilizes video, objects and installation, addressing how human instincts and cultural patterns formulate conflicting desires for the natural world.