Featuring the work of Elizabeth Alexander, Tim Bearse, Sam Duket, Bradley Fesmire, Matt Murphy, and Neal Walsh, this exhibition explores what it means to create—that is, to work—by presenting a range of pieces that emphasize process. Each piece hints at the ideas from which the work proceeded, embracing at the same time notions of vision and revision.
When we think of what it means to spend our days in the studio, ideas of work instilled in us by our teachers and parents come to mind in the form of remembered phrases, such as a hard day’s work, sweat equity, getting our hands dirty, and apracticed mentality of first one in, last one out. Though each artist’s contribution comprises a unique exploration of these themes, the exhibition as a whole emphasizes points of intersection in their work, most notably in the physical nature of their pieces and in their chosen materials and processes. Bearse’s mixed media sculptures make diligent use of industrial materials while Alexander’s subvert and reimagine everyday forms, from the workbench to the dining room table; in similar spirit, Walsh layers his paintings with discarded objects from the studio floor. In his work, Fesmire connects to a deep sense of craftsmanship, as does Duket whose sculptures resemble the tools of an ideated trade. Drawing is central to Murphy’s paintings and constructions; like Walsh, he works with grids, both artists thinking and composing like draftsmen.
Shown together in this exhibition, these artists’ work demonstrates the interplay of authenticity and cooperation that underpins all meaningful occupation. We borrow our title from a poem by William Butler Yeats. “Idle Trades” is a testament to the creative processes that spur invention and motivate work, as well as to the creative products themselves.