Recology Artist in Residence Exhibitions: Matthew Gottschalk, Jamil Hellu and Claire Lynch

by Admin on 06/03/2014

Working within similar goals of the larger San Francisco’s Recology waste management company, the Artist in Residence program has encouraged conservation and mindfulness about the environment while also encouraging an appreciation for art and community. The program invites artists whose practice would benefit an opportunity to work at Recology, offering a large studio space and access to materials recovered from the Public Disposal and Recycling areas for four months.  Artists give talks to students and the general public during on-site visits about how their reuse of materials and their residency experience in general has developed their art career. Over one hundred Bay Area artists have completed residencies at Recology. On Friday, May 23, Saturday, May 24, and Tuesday, May 27 Recology hosted a short-term exhibit for artists-in-residence Matthew Gottschalk, Jamil Hellu, and Claire Lynch, marking the culmination of their residencies.

Citing inspiration from explorers like oceanographer Jacques Cousteau and astrophysicist and cosmologist Carl Sagan, artist resident Matthew Gottschalk exhibits a wide array of found art and artwork made from scavenged materials, which were made in response to a series of vicarious adventures at the dump in From the Belly of the Whale. Gottschalk employs his marionette to explore the Recology facility in several video installations while found art sculpture, installation, and handmade instruments used in creating the soundtrack surround. Gottschalk’s collection of handmade harpoons, ladders of various lengths, and shopping carts made from disposed material suggest a role of conqueror and hunter, connecting to the process of hunting for materials. “I present my work by blurring the lines between observation and participation,” says Gottschalk, “implementing the viewers as characters in my installations through the use of prop, narrative and scale.” His project recalls the artful mastery of epic poetry and novels like The Odyssey, which, perhaps analogous to the artist’s role in the community, reveal universal human experiences of at once exploring what is unknown and bringing order and meaning to it.

Photographer Jamil Hellu’s images and installations explore a wide array of concepts surrounding identity through his preferred medium. Through objects found and made, Hellu questions and explores the shifting nature of identities in both personal and professional lives. Says Hellu: “I am attracted to the possibilities of photography as a form of visual representation that explores personal narratives and invites us to project fictions and new interpretations of reality, as the dichotomy between what is real and what is staged becomes blurred…” In this way his exhibition also explores identity not as a stable state of which the camera brings to the fore, but calls into question the camera’s ability to objectively depict what is set in front of its lens. This can also be achieved, Hellu shows, not only through the photograph itself, but its material quality and how it is presented or perceived. During his residency, Hellu found many photographs disposed of in the dump. He related this to a metaphorical loss of selfhood, or perhaps the disposer’s desire to shed one’s identity. In this way the dump became a monument to this encompassing human experience of one’s constantly fluctuating identity. Hellu shares these ideas with his audience in the exhibition through a shredded pile of one hundred photos of visitors to the Golden Gate Bridge, itself a site of extreme ambivalence: both a hot tourist destination, and one of the most popular places in the world to end one’s life.

Presenting an intriguing suite of four large-scale, abstracted sculptures representing various species of birds in her show Befriending Demons, recent Stanford University graduate Claire Lynch explores the wide gamut of the more difficult, negative human emotions, universally experienced yet socially unacceptable, and how they are negotiated within one’s self and within the larger social context.  “Before art, I worked in design and studied viewer’s emotional response to abstract forms. I found that viewers had a much stronger reaction to forms that were visually jarring and discomforting than to those that were pleasing,” says Lynch. “It was through this realization that I began to ask myself why my own negative emotions and negative experiences had such a defining impact and greater effect on my life than my other experiences.” Each of her four sculptures, representing Concealment, Routine, Balance, and Embrace address selected different responses to these types of emotions. They also stress the imperative to acknowledge and comprehend the role these feelings have in our lives. The Student Artist in Residence Program is specifically designed for those studying art at local colleges and universities, providing more flexibility with regard to structure and time.

More about Recology’s Artist in Residence program, including applications and upcoming exhibition information here.