Guest curated by Jordan Martins, Animal Tactics brings together works by Devin Balara, David Heo, Kelly Kristin Jones and João Oliveira, whose sculptures, paintings, and photographs ponder animal behavior as a means of understanding perceptual relationships embedded within landscapes, human activities, territorial marking, and visual structure. Through a variety of media and approaches, the artists in this show point to the ways in which humans are themselves animals, animals are seen as objects, and objects themselves can manifest an animal-like agency.
Left: Devin Balara, “Patty,” 2019, steel, enamel. Right: Devin Balara, “Trophy,” 2019, steel, enamel.
About the Artists
Devin Balara (b. 1988) hails from Tampa, Florida and holds a BFA from the University of North Florida and An MFA in sculpture from Indiana University in Bloomington, IN. She is currently based in Chicago, IL and spends summers managing the sculpture studio at Ox-Bow School of Art and Artist Residency in Saugatuck, MI. She has been an artist in residence at Monson Arts in Monson, ME, Elsewhere Museum in Greensboro, NC, Vermont Studio Center and The Wassaic Projects in Wassaic, NY. Her work has been recently exhibited at The Comfort Station in Chicago, IL, Ortega Y Gasset Projects in NYC, Grounds For Sculpture in NJ, Spring Break Art Fair in NYC, and DEMO Projects in IL. Balara was a recipient of the 2014 Outstanding Student Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award from Sculpture Magazine.
Artist’s Statement: Devin Balara’s recent body of work uses steel as a drawing material to illustrate cartoon scenes inspired by bad omens, supernatural moments, desert island logic, and the outdoors as both unruly and picturesque. Her research takes her into the clumsy and absurd ways nature is deployed and consumed, specifically when it comes to graphic design and postcard kitsch.
Kelly Kristin Jones uses the camera to examine contested historic city space across the Midwest. Her photo-based installations carry the scars, seams, and digital residue of efforts to remove, reinterpret and restore both public lands and narrative. Jones earned her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of chicago and served as a Post-MFA Faculty Photography Fellow at the University of Georgia. She has participated in residencies at MASS MoCA, LATITUDE, the Atlanta Contemporary, ACRE and is currently a Chicago Artists Coalition HATCH resident. She is the recipient of a number of awards, including the Luminarts Cultural Foundation Fellows Project Grant, Forward Arts Foundation Artist Award, Union League and Civic Arts Foundation Prize and the Municipal Art League Fellowship.
Artist’s Statement: “Across the urban landscape power relations camouflaged as public art are used instead to direct national narrative. Monuments and markers, in particular, embody state-sanctioned abuses of power. I cover and reclaim these sites. While always photo-based, I use a variety of methods and materials including digital manipulation, on-site intervention, sculptural work, and performance. Each photographic effort carries the scars, seams, and digital residue of efforts to remove, reinterpret, and restore landscape and serve as a polyvocal antidote to a master narrative.”
David Heo (B. 1992, Georgia) is a Chicago-based artist. He received his Master of Fine Arts in Painting and Drawing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His works reflect on the irregular rhythm of pleasure and leisure, fleeting moments and seemingly mundane relationships. Through subtle imagery, vibrant colors and synthetic materials, Heo’s work playfully presents themes ranging from the complexity of Asian-American identity within American culture to the misunderstood human interactions that one experiences during the night. Heo’s work has been exhibited internationally and featured in various publications.
Artist’s Statement: “My work flirts with juxtaposition, mythic symbolism, and archetype. … I use meticulous hard edges, vibrant colors, and nostalgic materials to create an interplay between graphic and painterly surfaces. Through combining playful materials with more serious subject matter, I create a disarming space in which to grapple with themes of desire, power, and empathy.”
João Oliveira (Brazil, 1989) is a visual artist with a BA in Visual Arts from the Universidade Federal da Bahia (2011), and a Master’s in Creative Process in Visual Arts from the same university (2017). He is trained in metal engraving through the Workshops at the Museum of Modern Art of Bahia (MAM-BA). He works on the encounter of metal engraving with other supports, appropriating personal experience in order to create works with a forged autobiographical nature, obtained through small rituals of self-fiction. A selection of his exhibitions includes “Tomar coca-cola com você” at Galeria ACBEU, Bahia; “Prêmio Gravura EAV”, the Engraving Prize at the School of Visual Arts Parque Lage, Rio de Janerio, where his works have been included in the school’s collection; “Circuto das artes” at Galeria do Conselho, Bahia; “Cabra cega” ant the Allliance Française, Bahia; “Como refazer o mundo” at Luiz Fernando Landeiro Arte Contemporânea, Bahia; “Esquizópolis” at the Musem of Modern Art, Bahia; “Arte londrina 4″in Londrina, Paraná; the 11th Recôncavo Arts Biennial, in Bahia; two editions of the Salão de Abril (April Arts Salon) in Ceará; and five editions of the Salões de Artes Visuais (Visual Arts Salon) of Bahia, where he has earned Honorable Mentions and a Prize. Other achievements include the shows “Panapaná – Visual Arts November” at Galeria de Arte Archidy Picado, in João Pessoa, Paraíba; “Paisagem intermitente” at the Coaty House occupation in Salvador, Bahia; “Entre II” at Galeria Entre, in Salvador, Bahia; the solo show “Último ato de orgulho”at Galeria RV Cultura e Arte, in Bahia; and the residencies “Cambio 14” at the Museo Universitario del Chopo, in Mexico; and the prize for engraving “Prêmio Gravura EAV Parque Lage + Mul.ti.plo Espaço Arte”, in Rio de Janeiro, which awarded him a residency at the Scuola Internazionale di Grafica di Venezia, in Venice, Italy.
Artist’s Statement: “‘Little amusements: I’m going to love you, hold you, squeeze you, until you’re in tiny pieces’ is the result of the impression of plastic animals bodies, torn apart by the same method that I used as a child (and experimental medical coroner). after being misplaced and shredded, these animals undergo a heating process , developed by me to turn them into two-dimensional matrices that I print with the same procedures traditionally used on engraving, resulting in a kind of graphic stain; a unique mark of violence that links the author to his act.”