© Alex Callender

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Alex Callender

Northampton, Massachusetts

Artist Statement

My work considers questions of cultural migrations, margins, and notions of interiority that have been engineered through history, and how we experience this cultural slippage between the present and the past. I cull references from everyday objects and surfaces, historical materials, Sci-Fi and pop culture, and symbolic forms of mythic nature that clash with synthetic nature. My process uses some variation of paint media, cut paper, and layered drawing techniques, and distilling images through mapping software. I combine these practices to create spatial constructions in which romanticized notions of the past, must exist next to the consequences that were produced as the present. I am interested in how hybridity is both a literal and metaphoric gesture to create complex narratives and spaces. My research focuses on mining surface design materials, looking at the lineages of tourism culture, and reading historical texts in relation to current socio-political events.

In my current project, I sample/remix the work of Agostino Brunias, an 18th century European painter who depicted various scenes of daily life and social class in the Caribbean. I reconstruct parts of these works to explore representations of gender and racial hierarchies in colonial imagery. My practice and research correlates Brunias’ use of textiles as a mediator between women and social power, with other design motifs that export cultural identities as luxury objects, such as panoramic wallpapers and other architectures of assimilation. In these work’s the neon grid acts as both a signifier of modern spatial organization, and a liminal space that interrupts the characters to the field of their environment, to speculate an alternative history. I am interested in the transformation of turning artworks of economic speculation into speculative histories, in which narratives about women’s lives and relationships can be reconfigured and play with anarchical forms. In her essay Sea Dreams: Isaac Julien’s Western Union: Small Boats, Jennifer Gonzalez, asks “how do artworks act out or reenact a changing perceptual relationship between the aesthetic past and the present through a kind of time travel”. Through these works I want to study and depict time as kind of apparatus or technology that embodies cultural imprints, in which representations of past and the present are occurring in the same space and attempting to alter one another. For me, this approach to making art is a way of confronting contemporary issues of economic empire, and how we move in, around, with, and away from it.

© Alex Callender

Alex Callender's Portfolio

Alex Callender, Beyond The Borders of New Space and Lost Time, 2017, oil on canvas, 36x36 in
Alex Callender, They Would All Meet Again, 2017, oil on canvas, 36x36 in
Alex Callender, The Messenger Comes to Trade Ideas for Histories, 2018, oil on canvas, 42x36 in
Alex Callender, Speculative Matters, A Refusal of Symmetry, 2018, oil on canvas, 30x22 in
Alex Callender, The Myth of Absolute Surfaces, A.) A Collection of Borders, 2017, oil on canvas, 32x32 in
Alex Callender, We and You and I, Stay Bound, 2018, oil on paper, 30x22 in
Alex Callender, Market Day, 2017, oil on canvas, 42x36 in
Alex Callender, How We Learned to Feel Blue on Sundays, 2018, oil and milk paint on canvas, 22x18 in
Alex Callender, The Night She and Her Sister Had to Choose and Chose Different Directions, detail, oil on canvas, 48x48 in
Alex Callender, The Night She and Her Sister Had to Choose and Chose Different Directions, 2018, oil on canvas, 48x48 in

© Alex Callender

Artist Biography

Alex Callender received her MFA from Massachusetts College of Art and Design. Callender’s studio practice, which incorporates drawing, installation and painting, considers themes of climate change and capitalism, cultural migrations, and American mythologies and historical materialism. Alex’s work is held in the collection of the U.S. Art in Embassies Program and the Tides Institute and Museum of Art in Maine, she has participated in national and international artist residencies and exhibitions. Alex is an Assistant Professor of Art at Smith College in Northampton, MA.


© Alex Callender

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