Sikkema Jenkins & Co. is pleased to present Wide and Deep, an exhibition of two series of recent works by Kay Rosen on view from February 3, 2012 through March 10, 2012.
Kay Rosen’s paintings, drawings, editions, collages, and installations on walls, billboards and buildings are best known for using language as their imagery. Understanding language as a visual and malleable form, Rosen explains in a 2010 interview: “When it comes to reading my work, throw out all the rules you ever learned: spelling, spacing, capitalization, margins, linear reading, composition…all your old reading habits will be useless.”
The first series of Wide and Deep consists of: gray-toned paintings, which use enamel sign-paint on canvas, and two wall paintings. The wall paintings, Between a Rock and a Hard Place and Wideep, enlist the limits of the basic architecture of the space and the possibilities of everyday language.
Challenging normal left to right reading on both the canvas and the walls, the works in this series convey their message in a number of ways: horizontally, vertically, upside-down, as a detail or a fragment.
Rosen’s second series of works—gouache and pencil drawings on watercolor paper, a wall drawing and an illuminated stained-glass edition—grew out of her investigation of words whose letters are layered on top of each other (deep), instead of sequentially (wide). These works are abstract and function more like objects than as readable text. In some, like Sweet Jesus, the stacked letters are transparent, revealing the lines of the underlying letters; while in others, like Open Kimono, the letters are semi-transparent, producing a kind of verbal sandwich. The third type of work, which includes Kiss on the Cheek, depicts only the outer contours of the words, appearing only as opaque silhouettes.
Rosen applied three rules to this second series: the word images must begin and end with the same letter, creating a closed-end, self-contained verbal unit; the letters are to be layered on top of each other; and the strategy (transparent, sandwiched, opaque) should correspond to some aspect of the text’s meaning.
Born in Texas, Kay Rosen is a Midwest-based artist whose language-based work has been exhibited in museums and institutions both nationally and internationally for several decades. Her work has previously been exhibited at The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, where she had a retrospective exhibition in 1998-99; The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; MASS MOCA, North Adams, Massachusetts; the Whitney Biennial (2000); The Art Institute of Chicago; inaugural exhibition commission for The Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco; The MCA Chicago, and in solo gallery exhibitions across the U.S. and Europe.
Some of Rosen’s most recent projects include Mañana Man, a commission for the opening of the Linde Family Wing at the MFA Boston and Go Do Good, a public 6-story mural on Chicago’s State Street in 2011. In 2012, Rosen will complete Here are the People and There is the Steeple, an exterior wall painting on the Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Walwhetu in Christchurch, New Zealand, as the city is rebuilding following the disastrous earthquakes of 2010-2011. She will also create a temporary outdoor commission for the Aspen Art Museum in June 2012.
Additionally, Rosen taught at The School of the Art Institute for eighteen years. She is the recipient of three National Endowment for the Arts fellowships and an Anonymous Was A Woman grant. A book about her work, Kay Rosen: AKAK, was published by Regency Art Press, New York City, in 2009.