For NADA Miami 2021 Gaa Gallery is pleased to exhibit new works by Wilder Alison and Anina Major. This presentation juxtaposes Alison’s and Major’s work in a dialogue on fragmented qualities of materiality and the self. Through their divergent uses of process, each artist embraces the malleability of material to produce conceptually motivated works that mine the history of ideas concerning language, the environment, and nature.
The gallery presents a selection of new paintings by Wilder Alison made from dyed and sewn wool. Alison is an interdisciplinary artist whose work is driven by the limitations of language to accommodate and build analog forms for transness, queerness, and self-embodiment. Through material alteration and assemblage, Alison’s works build, reassemble, and create vibrant visual constructions. Their work begins by cutting and pigmenting wool cloth. Later, Alison stitches these angled fragments together to form a whole comprised of diagonal lines and swaths of color, producing a hybrid of language and image.
These vivid abstractions are inspired by the 1973 novel, The Lesbian Body by French theorist Monique Wittig. Alison writes, “in the translation of Monique Wittig’s The Lesbian Body, the I cannot be split, so it is italicized, and the slash appears instead in m/e and m/y. The graphic sum of these marks throughout the text is a conflation of the slash and the I, such that the I itself begins to enact a split.” Mirroring Wittig’s radical use of slashes, Alison creates visual constructions that excavate language and mirror lived experience rather than reinforce a hierarchical understanding of knowledge and communication.
Similar to Alison’s work, Bahamian artist Anina Major utilizes alteration and reassemblage through her multiple firing processes to create hand-built vessels comprised of natural hues, ceramic, and sculptural materials that reference island ecology. Once Major’s carefully woven vessels are constructed and put through an initial firing, these ceramic forms are glazed, often with the addition of crystal, shell, sand, and site-specific elements. In the process of firing and re-firing the vessels are transformed and bear witness to time and atmosphere. Major’s work draws on an extensive knowledge of material as well as in-depth research and oral histories. It challenges postcolonial ideology to advocate for critical dialogue around cultural identities and deconstruct the mythologies around otherness.
Major displays new freestanding sculptures arranged on pedestals. This body of work references the palm weaving practiced by Bahamian women, referred to as plaiting. This cultural tradition is used to create intimate objects from a variety of locally grown biodegradable palms and plants, but the threat of dissolution due to the climate crisis puts this craft at risk of cultural erasure. Major’s work contends that straw work is not only a response to the demands of foreign tourist markets but a salient indicator of her Bahamian heritage and should be preserved. Through the use of glaze and incorporating elements such as sea glass, sand, and shells, Major’s work records places and experiences and expresses fragility and permanency simultaneously. Coded in a visual and material language, Major’s work and carries forward narratives and investigates the relationships between self and place in efforts to cultivate a sense of belonging.
Both Alison and Major use the organic processes of language and nature to articulate experiences of the physical world and push the physical and conceptual boundaries of material and process. Employing methods of destruction and creation, both artists work with materials easily found within everyday life to reclaim, reconfigure, and examine complex human systems in order to build new frameworks of learning and multitudinous experience. Presenting the work of these two emerging artists draws together concerns that face our current time and embodies the coalescence of process, idea, and presence.
Wilder Alison (b. 1986, Burlington, VT) is an interdisciplinary artist and a graduate of the Bard MFA Painting program. Alison has exhibited work with Gordon-Robichaux, Rachel Uffner, CUE Foundation, 247365, Primetime, and Garden Party Arts, among others. Recent solo shows include / A Ripe Blackberry Murmurs to the Wall / , Fierman, New York, NY; the faucethe drain breach\ a new /ife, Gaa Gallery, Provincetown, MA; Slit Subjects, White Columns, New York NY; $PLIT $UBJECT, Marlboro College, Marlboro, VT; and new wools, Hudson D. Walker Gallery, Provincetown, MA. Alison was a fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in 2016-17 and 2018-19, and has also participated in residencies at Triangle France-Astérides, Lighthouse Works, Fire Island Artist Residency, and Lower East Side Printshop. Alison performs in collaboration with psychoanalyst and musician Monroe Street as N0 ST0NES, with recent engagements at SUBLIMATION Projects, H0L0 NYC, CUE Foundation, and LaKAJE in New York. Alison will be a fellow at Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart in 2022.
Anina Major (b. 1981, Nassau, Bahamas) is a visual artist whose work investigates the relationships between self and place in efforts to cultivate a sense of belonging. Her work draws from anthropological research and oral histories to challenge postcolonial ideology and advocate for critical dialogue around developing cultural identities. Major is the recipient of numerous awards and residencies, including the St. Botolph Club Foundation Emerging Artists Award for sculpture, the Watershed Summer Residency Zenobia Award, Mass MoCA Studio Artist Program, and the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center Fellowship. Her work has been exhibited internationally at venues in The Bahamas, the United States, and Europe, including the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (Mass MoCA), North Adams, MA; Gallery 51, North Adams, MA; Westminster College Foster Art Gallery; New Wilmington, PA; Fuller Craft Museum, Brockton, MA; National Gallery of The Bahamas, Nassau, Bahamas; HALLE 14, Leipzig, Germany; and PRIZM Art Fair, Miami, FL. Major studied at the College of The Bahamas before earning her BS in Graphic Design from Drexel University in 2003 and her MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2017.