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A collaborative installation by

Martha Mysko and Willie Wayne Smith

Martha Mysko and Willie Wayne Smith

November 14 - December 21, 2019
Opening Reception: November 14th, 6-9pm
Organized by Fjord member Katie Wynne

Strewn is a collaborative installation comprised of a group of paintings by Willie Wayne Smith, integrated into an immersive space constructed by Martha Mysko. In the palette of a saturated, synthetic sunset, the work functions as a window into an American familial fiction and abstracted domestic space.

This immersive installation is infused with and informed by a non-linear narrative surrounding a young couple. The narrative is built around the invented extended family’s day to day lives in a post-industrial contemporary American setting, as they deal with emotional and economic obstacles. The artists utilize their own pasts to construct a surreal space that functions as a surrogate for  the personal while speaking to broader cultural consciousness, as the explicit narrative slips into experiential abstraction.  

Paintings hanging on the walls echo their sculptural counterparts, all of which are framed by a self-reflexive, and painterly domestic space. Objects, colors, and motifs from the room reappear in paintings, which depict the fractured and disjointed plot through varying modes of representation, realism, and allusion. 

Willie's paintings depict a cast of characters in various settings and also incorporate airbrushed portraits and representations that mirror the objects and materials chosen by Martha. These materials extend the narrative of the paintings into a stage-like installation and the digital realm. This conflation of parallel settings is evocative of filmic transitions in which scenes are momentarily superimposed. The specificity of the overarching narrative is often complicated by an allowance for personal histories and subjective impulses to ultimately guide the work.

Strewn is infused with subjective defacement and curated ruin that takes the form of scrawled text, impulsive marks, manipulated second hand items, digital prints, video, and reconstructed  and altered domestic objects. The liberated painterly play of both artists expresses the indexical fallibility of their mediums, while simultaneously investigating the infinite possibilities for nuanced and differentiated affects, interpretations, and aesthetic experience within them. Modernist tropes take unlikely forms in integrated moments of delinquent vandalism and in the formal arrangement of recognizable objects.

Martha Mysko and Willie Wayne Smith are currently Co-Artists in Residence in the Painting Department at Cranbrook Academy of Art. Martha's recent exhibitions include Liquid Nails: Martha Mysko and Emily Nachison at Elephant Art Space (Los Angeles) and a solo exhibition, Selective Memory, at Wasserman Projects (Detroit). Willie's recent solo exhibitions include Tenuous Leisure at Sadie Halie Projects (Minneapolis) and Open Book, Thin Air at Library Street Collective (Detroit). Martha holds an MFA in Painting from Cranbrook Academy of Art and a BA in Fine Arts from Towson University. Willie also holds an MFA in Painting from Cranbrook Academy of Art and a BFA in Painting from Maryland Institute College of Art.

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