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Exhibitions: Past

Purpose Considered

Works by Wade Kramm & Alison Safford

January 25 – February 23, 2007

Purpose Considered Purpose Considered Purpose Considered Purpose Considered

This exhibition brings together the works of Wade Kramm and Alison Safford. By examining the ways we perceive and understand the world, both artists seek to reveal that which is hidden from us in our ordinary experiences. Although both artists construct works using familiar things, each filter them through a distinct series of questions.

Kramm uses ordinary objects to explore our perceptions and to pose the idea that the world is not as it appears. Safford makes works that expose and investigate how the body processes and communicates information.

Kathleen Hancock

The Artists

Wade Kramm

I want to use the most ordinary objects placed in the most straightforward way to question our perceptions and suggest that there is more to the world than appears. It may seem contradictory to use everyday objects for my intentions, but I feel these objects have the most potential. It is more alarming to find the objects constantly around us suddenly foreign. Most of the objects I use are so dull and familiar that they are nearly invisible to our attention: a pillow, a piece of popcorn, a Styrofoam cup, shadows, a chair, a door. To question these objects will make the world seem less known.

In addition to using everyday objects, I often present the objects in a very straightforward way: rows, piles, a series of photographs, all with little or no color. Arranging them this way follows a similar principle as my choice of objects. The apparent ordinariness is important to the experience of the work and to my intentions. I want the artwork to be clearly presented to the viewer in the simplest way possible.

I try to come up with ideas that evoke mystery through the viewer's discovery of the work's hidden process. In many of my works, there is a process that is not usually obvious when the work is first encountered. The process is simply the logical system used to organize the work, but the result is often subtly at odds with what we have come to expect from the objects. I feel that if the viewer approaches an artwork that appears recognizable and safe, engages in figuring it out, and then sees the art and object in a new way, this is a much more complex art experience than simply looking at what the artist has done. This type of experience proposes that all things might be more than they appear to be if only we look at them more closely.

An example of this experience in my work would be the viewer finding a pile of popcorn placed on the floor. Everything appears to be in order until discovering that the popcorn is not only cast in plaster, but the same piece is cast a thousand times. I call this 'Ah ha!' moment - when the viewer discovers the process - the revelation. This moment actually consists of three parts: 1) the assumption that the objects are normal, 2) the realization of the process and 3) the mystery the process reveals. The viewer finds that the process is logical, yet ultimately this process makes the object more mysterious. It is like being a detective, who upon solving the puzzle, finds the solution to be more mysterious than the original puzzle. In the example of the plaster popcorn, the process reveals the possibility of finding a pile of popcorn consisting of the same piece.

Allison Safford

"His [Nabakov' s] novels are shaped around invisible trap doors, sudden gaps that constantly pull the carpet from under the reader' s feet, they are filled with the mistrust of what we call everyday reality, an acute sense of that reality' s fickleness and frailty."
Reading Lolita in Tehran, -Azar Nafisi

My current work explores how the body, particularly the brain, reacts to physical and psychological desires and limitations. The functions of the body and the mind may be muddled by different perceptions, and by the super-saturation of daily information. The piece Deluge addresses this saturation by asking where does the information go when the body can no longer absorb any more. My work explores this "fickleness and frailty" of the body' s needs and limitations in objects created for the use of the body or cast from the body, focusing on a specific part (organ or limb) or bodily function.

The repetition of objects or actions is Sisyphus-like, where the repetition is the focus, there is no obtainable goal. The focus is on the act of looking or traveling rather than arriving at or seeking another locale. For example, in gigantic, the front of the small silver boats tip toward the pond' s floor, but never capsize or sink. The piece is about the peering at the floor of the pond, seeking out what can' t be seen or reached.

The relationships created through placement, movement, and moving image (video) in my sculpture and installation mimics the discomfort and humor of human limitations through the uncomfortable or humorous placement of objects. That the viewer and the sculpture share the same space is vital. The viewer is to re-look at their own body, to relate the sculpture' s questions to their own body. The use of placement, movement, and video, works to establish a tactile calling to the viewer.


Wade Kramm, a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania native, studied sculpture at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Rhode Island School of Design. He recently received the Artist Resource Trust grant from the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, Inc. and in the past has been awarded grants from the Joan Mitchell Foundation and the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts. Recent exhibitions include A.R.T. Grant Award Show, Trustman Gallery, Simmons College, Boston, Massachusetts; Wade Kramm and Tom Koole, Old Dominion University Gallery, Norfolk, Virginia; and Black, White and Shades of Gray, South Shore Art Center Galleries, Cohasset, Massachusetts. He currently lives and works in Rhode Island.

Allison Safford studied sculpture at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred, Alfred, New York. She recently received a Massachusetts Cultural Grant for sculpture, the Artist's Valentine Grant, Groton, Massachusetts, and a Windows Art Project Grant, Somerville Arts Council, Somerville, Massachusetts. Recent exhibitions include Multisensory: Visual Responses to Memory and Synesthesia, Hera Gallery, Wakefield, Rhode Island; The Quality of Quantity, artSPACE@16, Malden, Massachusetts, and EAT, University or Arkansas Art Department Gallery, Little Rock, Arkansas. She lives and works in Massachusetts.