‘BLOW UP’ at Jepson will inflate your visual arts experience | Visual arts | Savannah News, Events, Restaurants, Music

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“BLOW UP: Inflatable Contemporary Art,” an imaginative traveling exhibition of large-scale inflatable works, made its way from the Bedford Gallery in Walnut Creek, California to the Jepson Center.

“BLOW UP is a showcase of creativity and technology, and each artist has a unique approach to this medium. It will be something new and exciting for our audience,” said Alex Mann, Director of Curatorial Affairs and Chief Curator of Telfair.

The exhibit will be on view at the Telfair Museums Jepson Center through September 18 and features inflatable artwork by renowned contemporary artists and art collectives.

This year, inflatable art will be showcased on a larger scale with works averaging nine feet tall.

“While some pieces are sewn by hand, others are modeled on computers and custom made, using lightweight and durable synthetic materials to achieve their impressive scale. The results are bold and unforgettable,” Mann said.

Audiences in Telfair were exposed to inflatable art in 2019 with the exhibition “Summon the Sea: Contemporary Artists and Moby Dick” which introduced new audiences to Tristan Lowe’s enormous inflatable wool felt whale, ” Mocha Dick”.

As with Lowe’s inflatable work, this exhibit will enlighten visitors of all ages to explore new mediums in contemporary art.

BLOW UP’s installations will encourage the viewer to look beyond the conventional associations of inflatables with balls, beach toys and airships.

Click to enlarge

TOP (LR): Lizabeth Rossof (American, born in 1973), 5 XI’AN AMERICAN WARRIORS, 2019 Nylon fabric, electric fans. Sharon Engelstein (Canadian, b. 1965), Seeker, 2012, nylon fabric, electric fan. BOTTOM: Jen Stark; Cones; 2019; Nylon fabric, electric fans; courtesy of Bedford Gallery at Lesher Center for the Arts.

“Savannah is a creative city, so with these works it was important to show something new and cutting-edge for people and artists to explore,” Mann said.

This exhibition features nine different artists who work with the medium of fabric, air and machinery to create these works. Some museums aren’t big enough to display many of these works, but the size of the Jepson Center was perfectly within the scope of this exhibit.

This is one of the largest shows Mann has worked with in terms of exhibit size.

“The inflatable medium has a basic concept and it allows these artists to do large-scale works. They can explore their ideas and see their work bigger than they normally could and the Jepson Center is a wonderful space to showcase that work,” Mann said.

The international list of artists and art collectives well known in contemporary art circles includes: Nicole Banowetz, Sharon Engelstein, FriendsWithYou, Joshua Harker, Susan Lee-Chun, Matt Ritchie, Lizabeth Rossof, Max Streicher and Jen Stark.

Their works are known for using bold color, pop culture references, and overwhelming scale to address a range of serious themes, including consumerism, climate change, cultural identity, and mortality.

Organizers hope this will be evident as you walk through the exhibition, captivating the viewer with the scale of the work juxtaposed against the variety of colors and media.

“When you see this show, you’ll see that all of these concepts and subjects, from recognizable to abstract, are all possible and come together from these artists and it’s a lot of beautiful pieces to see,” Mann said.

BLOW UP: Inflatable Contemporary Art is curated by Carrie Lederer, Curator of Exhibitions, Bedford Gallery at the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek, CA.

This exhibition is the second iteration of BLOW UP, also curated by Bedford Gallery. The presentation of this exhibition at the Telfair Museums is designed by Mann.

“I’m not an artist myself, but when I look at works in an exhibition, I look beyond the emotional reaction I get from the art and also look at how do I make this work and how it was done and what was the process of doing that. I hope visitors will feel that too,” Mann said.

“BLOW UP: Inflatable Contemporary Art” will be open until September 18. Local residents are encouraged to visit the Jepson Center for free on Saturdays and Sundays through August 28. Telfair Museums is waiving admission fees to its two Telfair Square locations to residents in a six-county region: Chatham, Bryan, Effingham and Liberty (GA) and Beaufort and Jasper (SC).

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