Selections from Sudden Flowers
Dawn Southworth: On Your Mark...
The Clark Gallery is honored to present the work of photographic artist Eric Gotttesman and mixed media artist Dawn Southworth. They share a strong multi-disciplinary approach to their art allowing them to explore their subjects in a fresh, unconventional manner.
For over a decade, Eric Gottesman has been working in both the Middle East and Ethiopia exploring photography’s role in shaping and documenting people’s lives. In one small neighborhood of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Eric founded Sudden Flowers with a group of children whose parents died of AIDS. Working collaboratively with these children, Eric has made photographs, films, and installations that give each of them a voice in how the world perceives them. We Cheat Each Other: A Portrait of Salam is the result of a decade long portrait study of one member of Sudden Flowers. In a poignant effort to reinvent herself, Salam adopted alternative personas whose lives are played out before the camera. In a related series titled The Preservation of Terror Gottesman collected passport photos preserved by Ethiopians he met in addition to creating studio portraits of children, many of whom were also members of Sudden Flowers. Viewed collectively the children can and often resemble each other as many are related and wear similar clothing. Subtle but telling differences emerge however depending on how each child looks at the camera and what they do with their arms and hands. This body of work references a turbulent period in Ethiopian history when the communist baked regime outlawed photography sanctioning only official portraits for identity purposes. Eric’s work has an authenticity born from deep conviction as well as a desire to look beyond the printed image to reveal the political impact on photographic practices in Ethiopia.
Eric Gottesman studied history, literature, and political science at Duke University; after graduating from Duke, he studied law and politics. Eric later completed his MA degree in fine arts at Bard College. His collaborative photography project on the impact of AIDS in one Ethiopian community has been supported by arts organizations, NGOs, foundations and UN agencies. His work has been featured in books and exhibited internationally. He is currently included in the 2012 deCordova Biennial and is Artist in Residence at Amherst College. work crosses disciplines. In additon to painting and drawing, Southworth works the materials with obsessive and repetitive methods includoing stitching, embroidering, cobbling, assorted fastening techniques, along with repeated tearing, piercing, cutting and burning.
Dawn Southworth work continues to cross disciplines. In additon to painting and drawing, Southworth works the materials with obsessive and repetitive methods includoing stitching, embroidering, cobbling, assorted fastening techniques, along with repeated tearing, piercing, cutting and burning.Over the last twenty years, she has created an extraordinary body of work combining a vast range of materials and processes that resonate with personal and historical associations. Many of the objects she chooses, scorched and tattered ironing board covers, delicate fabrics, scraps of paper and metal capture the essence of those whose hands once used and touched these now discarded materials. Her newest body of work, and 7th solo show at the Clark, has an underlying formal elegance. The four larger works, Germinate, Species, Cakes and Façade, are composed of many intimate drawings layered on a bed of ironing board covers, stitched together and mounted on paper. The residual stains in these fabrics provide a subtle yet sophisticated patterning to the overall piece as do the delicately charred edges around each drawing. The smaller series incorporate salvaged scraps of metal artfully arranged and sewn to outline simple iconic shapes like a light bulb, iron and alarm clock. These poetic images show a formal restraint and terse vocabulary rich in associational value. Southworth’s use of found objects, drawing, sewing, and pyrography are handsomely unified in well constructed and highly charged images.
Dawn Southworth’s work has been featured in solo exhibitions at the Addison Gallery of American Art, the Fuller Craft Museum and the DeCordova Museum among others. Her work is included in numerous private and corporate collections. She has been the recipient of two Massachusetts Cultural Council Grants, a NEFA/NEA Fellowship, and two Blanche E. Colman Awards.