Artist Talk:
Saturday, April 28th | 3:00 PM | FREE tickets here

Rochester Art Center is pleased to announce a new exhibition in the 2nd Floor Accent Gallery Chris Larson and Jordan Rosenow: The Space of a Line .

Chris Larson’s art continually plays with our perception of dimensions, including in Axonometric, a series of drawings made over ten years that fantastically imagine inner, hidden machinery of static architecture. This work is shown at RAC in conversation with his studio assistant and mentee, Jordan Rosenow, who creates multimedia installations made from raw building materials typically used to solidify structures such as 2x4s, pipes, and steel that are the foundation of architectural spaces, which house/shape the body and its experiences.


Chris Larson’s art is hard to forget. One summer night he burned down a life size replica of a house designed by the great Modernist architect Marcel Breuer built on St. Paul’s eastside. The typical response to this part sculptural/part performance artwork is why? This piece, Celebration/Love/Loss, emerged out of a necessity for a grand gesture using fire and acted as compliment to his previous work Deep North, showcased her at RAC in 2008, in which he doused a house in water during January. Frozen and dripping with icicles, the house becomes other worldly, while the burnt Breuer house replica turns to ash. Transformation is central to every work by Larson.

Objects, whether 3D material things, or 2D depictions of shapes and forms, such as the buildings, machines, or many simple lines upon a black surface, bend, mutate, and transform. Nothing is ever static in Larson’s work. Architectural structures especially transform.

I have written about Larson’s work for years in a variety of publications. When I saw an opportunity to bring his work into conversation with the magnificent architecture of the Rochester Art Center, along with the architectural investigations of Jordan Rosenow, Eamon O’Kane, and Tom Erickson I knew this was an important artistic conversation to create here. What makes the RAC building stunning is the light, conducted through brilliant combination of white walls and windows, providing a blank canvas on which to be creative and curate. Larson’s Threshold drawings revel in light cascading through the bank of windows. The supremely black gesso Larson uses here absorbs the light, while the soft metallic sheen of the graphite pencil lines reflect it back. Gesso is a primer that lays the foundation for a painted surface, rarely seen by the viewer. Without oil or any reflective components within its chemistry, the black gesso takes in the light so completely that it takes us into a world of opacity and shadows. Larson has run the pencil repetitively along the straight edge of an aluminum strip, commonly used in the threshold of a doorway. As we follow the fold of the rotating form the pencil lines create, dimensions appear to shift, thus the transformation occurs. The stable footing we presume is beneath us can no longer be taken for granted, promoting the need for change in perspective. We cross the threshold, trust the feelings the work provokes – confusion, intrigue, challenge – compelling us towards a new understanding of our world.

As our gaze shifts to look at the Axonometric drawings of industrial workplaces, rural architectural structures and aeronautic machines, somehow the shadows created from the beams of light stand out and appear central. I find my eye drawn to reciprocal forms, diagonal lines within his pencil markings elsewhere. Indeed, the premonition in change of artistic practice is revealed. There is, in all of Larson’s work, a lingering belief in redemption, through darkness and confusion a transformative opportunity, such as fire or ice, or as in Axonometric, cogs and wheels of change, shift toward light and clarity. But these moments of redemption are always anchored in the muddied past, the smudge marks of the drawing hand, the depths of the human soul in the deep gesso black. Suddenly, an elegiac Baroque church of excessive wings and sparkling gold and silver rays of glory come to mind called forth by the reflective glints of light from the successive pencil lines in Threshold, but also as an alleviation from the hardworking, Midwest grit of the machines and utilitarian structures of Axonometric.

Glancing toward interiority, Jordan Rosenow bends and bows the materials that appear permanent and whose perfection, straightness, and uprightness are vital to a solid support of a structure – or more metaphorically to systems, such as social and political systems. Rosenow’s sparse but powerful sculptures do not so much transform as reveal, reveal something that typically remains within the walls of the building or the underside of a table. Seen as functional supports, these elements remain hidden, commonly understood to be the unsightly part of construction and building. Bringing these out to be viewed and then altering them in slight but oddly beautiful ways, allows the functional to play, to be creative. Utilitarianism has rendered these materials stiff and molded into conformist positions, but Rosenow allows them to express something deep within. This expressiveness that emerges out of staid, boring forms, brings me feelings of incredible hope. When I see the shadow cast by their now unique, slightly modulated forms, I see the inner soul of the material being let free and able to be something else it never imagined was possible.

Rosenow’s sculptures arrive at RAC in a time of transition, as it finds the footing of a solid foundation and demonstrates much be accomplished through conversation, forgiveness and willingness to bend and reconfigure towards an upward slope of hope.

Exhibition Curator: Sheila Dickinson

Artist Bios:

The work of St. Paul, MN artist, Chris Larson, incorporates film, video, photography, performance, drawing and installed environments. Since receiving his MFA from Yale University in 1991, Larson has been the recipient of many awards including the Bush Fellowship, The McKnight Fellowship, a Comfort Tiffany Award and a New Work Project Grant from the Harpo Foundation. Larson’s work is in a number of collections including Neue National Galerie in Berlin and the Walker Art Center. Larson has had a solo exhibition at the Walker Art Center, Katonah Museum of Art in Katonah, NY, The Boiler (Pierogi) in Brooklyn, NY, his work was also included in the 2014 Whitney Biennial. In 2018 Larson’s work will be included in the 11th Bienal do Mercosul in Porto Alegre Brazil and he has an upcoming solo 10-year survey exhibition at the Cincinnati Contemporary Art Center. He is an Associate Professor of Art and the Director of Undergraduate Studies at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis and was a visiting professor at the Weissensee Academy of Art Berlin in 2017. Larson is also the publisher of InReview, a quarterly print publication of critical responses to art in the Twin Cities.

Jordan Rosenow, from Svea, MN received a BFA from the University of Minnesota in 2015. Rosenow’s work is rooted in sculpture and is linked to performance by implying motion and the vulnerabilities of materials. She is a studio assistant to Chris Larson and is the editor of a quarterly printed arts criticism publication titled InReview. She was the previous the Guest Editor of MN Artists. Rosenow’s artwork has exhibited at Franconia Sculpture Park, The Soap Factory, MN Landscape Arboretum, Larson Gallery and ACRE projects in Chicago, IL. Rosenow had a recent performance included in the 2017 Choreographer’s Evening at the Walker Art Center.

Artist Talk:
Saturday, April 28th | 3:00 PM
Chris Larson and Jordan Rosenow
Jordan Rosenow has worked as Chris Larson’s studio assistant for four years and they will share their experience of developing a working relationship between artist/assistant, discussing their work, mentorship, art criticism and their joint publication INREVIEW,

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