Artists from L to R: Modesto Covarrubias, Angie Wilson, Ali Naschke-Messing

Curatorial Essay for exhibition at Marin Museum of Contemporary Art, March 10-April 15, 2012

MarinMOCA’s Emerging Artists series features the work of Bay Area artists who do not yet have gallery representation, but whose work stands out both formally and conceptually. The 2012 Emerging Artists exhibition title, a play on the term “Indexical Marker,” refers to 2 key aspects of the work. The artwork is “indexical” in that it points to something else—it directs the viewer’s attention to and often becomes a trace of another occurrence or physical object. Traditional photography, for example, has been referred to in semiotic theory as an indexical marker because a photograph is a sort of record of another moment in which someone or something was in front of a camera, and it serves as a trace of its subject because it is literally produced as a result of the play of light and shadow across that person or thing. “Makers,” the second part of the title, refers to the ways the artists employ craft-based tactics in their artistic practice. To refer to these artists as “makers” acknowledges the historical divide between the creation of so-called “fine” art, and the craft traditions of making objects, of “making do” with everyday materials often degraded by art institutions.

Modesto Covarrubias utilizes knitting in his performance and installation pieces as a way to investigate psychological and emotional connections to physical environments. His knitting performances produce objects that serve as a trace of the actions of the performer, and his installations often engage the decor and design of a room, bringing attention to aspects of the space otherwise unnoticed by the viewer.

Ali Naschke-Messing’s thread-based installations poetically echo existing architectural forms or subtly chart the daily movement of light and shadow across the wall, ceiling, or floor. The daily movement of light and shadow may seem common, but it simultaneously hints at the grand, celestial movements of the planets. Her installations often indicate the everyday, while also hinting at the infinite. Her work is as much about the act of viewing as it is about the intricate form of her installations, as they require a form of patient looking akin to listening to a whisper.

Angie Wilson’s primary medium is used work shirts, physical traces of anonymous laborers, woven into Persian carpet motifs or other craft objects. Wilson’s artwork simultaneously weaves together questions of outsourced craft production, the mass production of the handmade, and the growing importance of re-usable materials.

INDEXICAL MAKERS are artists whose conscientious use of materials encourages us to patiently re-view our immediate physical environment, and to be mindful of the makers behind the seemingly simple, everyday objects within that environment.

-Heather Murray, Curator