WELCOME to the Indy Arts Studio Series, where you will find behind-the-scenes information such as raw footage from conversations with featured artists, artwork development, artist bios, the show at-a-glance, and other details of the artists’ exhibition in Gallery 924 at the Arts Council.
Meet our April Featured Artist:
Hillary Erin Russell received a BFA in Photography and Computer Digital Imagery from Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, WV. Her work in undergrad was primarily composed of photography with some influence of performance and video/sound. She pushed the performance and sound into her primary mode of production while attending Herron School of Art and Design in Indianapolis, Indiana; where she received a MFA in Photography and Intermedia. She currently teaches at Herron School of Art and Design. Her primary art practice revolves around her emphatic relationship to sound and its intimate interaction with the audience.
New Solo Installation:
April 3 – 24, 2015
Russell uses text, video, audio, sculpture, and photography to explore issues of trust. She is interested in what we as a society have come to trust; what we believe deserves to be given our confidence and what we deem to be inherently untrustworthy. In her current work, pornography is used as a basis for this exploration. The artist holds that because pornography reveals its intention up front, she can trust pornography more than other forms of film (e.g. romantic comedies). Because pornography does not attempt to pretend to be realistic or a truth, Russell is able to juxtapose personal and romantic symbols with the pornographic images creating an interesting and unexpected visual relationship. She folds the sincere into the manufactured – fusing her imagery with audio and video appropriated from pornography giving each piece of art a unique duality.
To Note: All video footage comes from the film Wasteland
Inspiration of Theme:
The Duality of Pornography:
Scene transitions, pornography versus romance:
“Pieces of Wasteland are present next to acceptable forms of the romantic so that the viewer can see the romantic that exists inside the film.”
– from the Artist Statement.
Language, sensual versus casual:
Oh my goodness!
Oh my goodness!
Do you feel it?
Do you feel it?
Oh my goodness!
Do you feel it?
I like it. I like it. I like it.
Let me feel it.
Let me feel you.
Pornography paired with personal:
“The photograph is paired with audio from Wasteland about a moment in the film in which Anna tells Jackie about when she saw a UFO. There is a line near the end of the audio segment in which Anna says, ‘I wanted to see it closer.’ This line reminds me of the light filtering in and becoming closer to me.”
– from Artist Statement
Behind the Artwork:
Gold Leafed Flowers
“The flowers represent a two-fold gesture. The romantic gesture of giving flowers, and implication of a relationship between two people. The act of gold leafing also implies a kind of romance and the flowers become a hyper-symbol of romance and romantic gestures. I use the gold leafed flowers as a way to talk about the hyper-real that exists inside of pornography. The actors are a kind of ‘creature’ that are either extreme of femininity or masculinity.”
“The audio that is paired with the flowers talks about the idea of being a creature. It is a conversation between two lovers and each reveals insecurities about how they are perceived, along with how each sees herself.”
– from the Artist Statement
Script of paired audio:
Jackie: “You were always the special one…”
Jackie: “Sometimes I think that there is something wrong with me…I’m not a girl and I’m not a boy, but I’m some weird species that’s not built like everybody
Anna: “I like you just the way you are.”
Jackie: “You don’t understand, do you?”
Anna: “I do, I do, Jackie.”
Images from theses screenshots are of members of OkCupid.com, an online dating site. Ads display photos or potential matches for individuals to “Star” or “X”.
“This was personal to me because it was at a time when I found that I was really busy and wasn’t with anyone, so I joined OkCupid, and the process of the gold stars made me think about how it relates to relationships.”
Polaroids and Text
“These are personal because of how they relate to my space and a kind of vacancy. There is internal, personal text paired with the external polaroids as examples of my space and pieces of my body.”
“The table reads the names of all the crushes of girls I had. The names are kind of burnt into the table and it makes me think about something sweet like carving a crush into a tree. Pornography is set on top of it, so it is a smash up of different things, making them both personal and better. The audio it is paired with has one sweet dialogue where they are playing Go Fish. and the other is super sad. The girls are fighting and they talk about how one moved away from the other and they left each other. They lost a best friend. One is cynical and one is sweet. I thought that duality was really important.”
“My Wasteland” according to Hillary Erin Russell:
I see myself in the film, or I see something from myself.
Personal, familiar; friends that I loved and lovers I couldn’t
The denial of self, intimate relationships I had with friends, girls I was fused to, loved but never thought of them as crushes.
Distance, friends I lost because I crushed them because I couldn’t give them what they wanted, and I didn’t know what I needed
It was never a possibility to me, for me that I loved these girls, that I was attracted to them. Maybe I didn’t know what a crush was, I knew when boys would have crushes with me, I understood that, wasn’t really sure if I wanted to be with them, but it seemed like what I was supposed to do. I tried, but I think they knew, so if I didn’t crush them they would simply give up.
I could never go back home and see these girls I loved, now knowing that I loved them, realizing that they crushed me but in Wasteland I see myself in the film, I am reminded of a self that is/was hidden and a self that is unknown to me even though it is myself, it is a self with others, an other, a lover.