CUAC is pleased to present two exhibitions: “seeing the stone” by Miami-based artist Cara Despain and “UNFURL STREAK” by NYC-based artist Michael Ryan Handley.
I am at a moment where I believe art about nature cannot be made with earthy materials. Stones. Water. Plants. Dirt.
I am at a moment where I believe art about nature can still be made with earthy materials. Stones. Water. Plants. Dirt.
Nature is managed in windowsills and tabletops. Experience is exchanged for image and myth. And yet, I sense a massive cultural need and desire for the ideological fusing of mankind and nature.
The dividing trench is deep and our moves seem to excavate and widen it. We are removing material, rather than adding.
I propose image and myth be exchanged for experience.
I wish for the familiar to become strange again.
Michael Ryan Handley was raised in Utah. He received a BFA from the University of Utah and an MFA at Yale. He currently works and lives in Philadelphia and New York City.
seeing the stone
Returning to Utah to have a show about landscape poses a challenge: what can be put indoors in a room of human scale that can say more that being there? The disconnect between the representation of landscape and place and its actuality is an interesting and complicated problem that I wanted to core out with seeing the stone.
Images of landscape have saturated the expansionist psyche of North American colonialists for centuries, and they persist today by way of tourist ephemera, Instagram, Google Maps and much more. From the Romantics to the Hudson River School to Ansel Adams to John Ford, landscape has been a repository for fantasy, identity, narrative and epic. What dark or strange narratives are couched within the romantic depictions of the west? What is a picture of a place, and what has territorial acquisition, faith, mining, and the lust for untapped wilderness baked in to our cultural disposition?
A rock is an instrument of landscape, the most direct representative of it. A fragment of a much larger, longer story. In fact, a rock is the most fundamental object on earth. It contains our totality— deposits and flows, shifts and annihilations, slow methodical erosion, intersections, anticlines, crystallizations. Also our human misadventures: our folklore, our hopes, prospects, faith, fuel, amazement, disappointment.
I cannot beat a rock. I simply don’t have the time in my small lifetime to forge the blobs of magic the earth has. So I humbly copy them here in concrete—the material of my short moment in time, one of construction, one that is ultimately reconfigured earth and crushed rocks. I invite you to see the stones for yourself and experience being there. Transplanting the scale, the history, the dry air and the journey to a single place is not possible. I hope that you, deprived of the view, will engage in a similar absurdity of searching that lead folks to the desert to begin with and find it.
Cara Despain was raised in Utah and received a BFA from the University of Utah. She is currently based in Miami and has just completed a solo exhibition at Spinello Projects there and has been included in an exhibition at the Rubell Collection.