The Ratio of People to Cake: New Work by Jared Weiss and Owen Marc Laurion

April 12 - June 10, 2019
The familiarity of their personalities and the approachability of their art belies an intellectual rigor that underpins the serious play evident in the work of both Jared Weiss and Owen Marc Laurion. Where Weiss' work is riddled with literary allusion and driven by psychoanalytic theory, Laurion makes reference to theories of the material object, its production and circulation, as ways of understanding the social. From football as a communal ritual channeling violent flows of energy, to the assembly and disassembly of the vessel or chair, both artists aim to make the familiar strange, pushing the appearance of things — and or our conceptions of them — to the breaking point.
 
As Jared Weiss writes, "I think of Freud's concept of the 'screen memory,' — a distorted memory, generally of a visual rather than verbal nature, deriving from childhood — as the site of viewable repression. If repression is unconscious and stays unconscious — these are 'unacceptable' or inadmissible thoughts — then the painting becomes a way of glimpsing what occurred. The 'screen memory,' as a visual phenomenon, can be equated to the painting. The painting is then a distanced view of the Real — that, which, experientially, resists representation, is what cannot be symbolized — and, in the form of the painting, is able to be apprehended and lived with. Before anything is labeled through language, it is organized symbolically; it is able to be experienced 'directly,' unmediated. In my work, the 'screen memory' distorts content — it borrows from other acceptable sources — in order to process the 'Real event.'"
 
Weiss writes of "violence as an interpretive lens for painting," whether the viewer is considering the motivations of the actor upon the stage, the player on the field, or the interlocutions of the dinner party attendee at the table. Jared Weiss' dynamic compositions formally recall the great tableaus of Neoclassical history painting, such as Jacques-Louis David's Oath of the Horatii. His palette, placement of incongruous objects, and seemingly disconnected backgrounds, serve to disorient the viewer, fracturing the apparent cohesion of the image. The humor in these dis- and re-locations "undercuts as well as extends the traumatic" nature of the screen memory. This uncanny effect makes his larger compositions more akin to those of photographer Gregory Crewdson -- while seemingly direct, nothing in the composition is as it seems. The familiar social rituals ensconced in these tableaus are made unfamiliar by their spatial dislocation, forcing us to question their sociopolitical functions.
 
Owen Marc Laurion's work similarly dismantles and disrupts existing categories. Where Weiss' disruptive action is rooted in the visual, Laurion's is rooted in the material. Assembling the high art of the handmade with the low-culture of the mass produced, combining the coil built pot with the garishness of AstroTurf, Laurion's work forces us to question the very objects that unite us in these social rituals.
 
"This body of work relies on a type of collage in order to craft metaphor and anecdotal references to social disparities or narrative fallacies. Meaning is fabricated through a juxtaposition of different forms, materials, and sources. My own appropriation of collage collects varying histories, narratives, and methods within a singular object. Clay is not my only 'medium' — I use artistic genre and processes of production as creative media as well. Parts thrown on the wheel are joined with coil built pots; AstroTurf contrasts with formal representations of beauty and form; household objects and furniture are re-contextualized within the art-object. In the studio these forms are pushed to become something new, while also revealing how they are made. The forms these objects take are essentially performative of their making as well as the influences embedded within their visual vocabularies. I am positing my own system of entropy in order to make light of both how arbitrary and dangerous forms of political and social hegemony are, reordering the seemingly arbitrary and unpredictable cultural structure of values, commodities, and morals, in order to highlight the disorder they portend."
 
These artists invite the viewer to the table, the ultimate site of the most foundational of social rituals, that of the shared meal. The title of the exhibition, derived from the ritual of sharing cake, emphasizes the ceremonial aspects of this act inherent in Jared Weiss' painting and the material implications of this indulgence as embodied in Owen Marc Laurion's ceramic-based works. Revisiting Marie Antoinette's immortal proclamation — and the political implications underlying both artists' work — at our opening reception, the viewers can have their cake and eat it too.