Laurel Farrin at Devening Projects, Chicago
January 19 – February 22, 2019
Try again. Fail again. Try better.
— Samuel Beckett
Flip the awkward. Always flip the awkward if you can.
— Amanda Seales
Devening Projects is very pleased to invite you to the opening of Vaudeville, Laurel Farrin’s first solo exhibition with the gallery. The reception is on Sunday, January 19 from 4 – 6:30; the exhibition continues until February 22, 2020.
Voix de ville, or “City Voice,” has vied to be the origin of the word vaudeville but it’s one of many origination claims. Vaudeville acts were beaded together to provide variety, rhythm and pace. A typical vaudeville show offered the everyday audience a little bit of everything in eight to fourteen acts or “turns.” If one turn in a variety show failed to amuse or amaze, the one that followed might. We’re delighted to see some of these turns in this exciting exhibition. The slippages and tumbles between the many “scenes” in Laurel Farrin’s first solo show at Devening Projects become an affair full of shaky balance and delightful sleight of hand. There’s a droll bagginess to these objects that is feather-light but always tough. Farrin is a seasoned performer who will always find delight in the discoveries and inventions made during the choreography of any new piece. Her moves—turns—are deft; working within and upon every surface reveals her ability to skillfully manage the burlesque in this ongoing project. In this exhibition, we’re delighted by a tap dance made with the softest shoe.
As the youngest child in a large family, Laurel Farrin was taught to “make do” at an early age. Her love for the strange beauty of hand-me-down things with their missing pieces led her to play, transform and find new meanings for the fragments to embody. The “turns” in the show are made from recycled fabric and other found materials. Her use of the language of abstraction runs up against the visual syntax of comedy–odd proportions, skewed juxtapositions and awkward relationships. The reconfigurations are unpredictable and surprising, sometimes weirdly funny but also sad. Familiar may become unfamiliar, humorous may become pathetic, as are the unpredictable turns and ambiguities of living. Humor shifts the frame, disrupting conventional thinking to question cultural values that privilege success over failure, goal-oriented tasks overplay and conforming behavior over creative activity. In the work of Laurel Farrin, comedy and empathy are ever allies.
(b. 1955) Laurel Farrin received an M.F.A. from the University of Maryland in 1993. She’s had residencies at the Roswell Artist-in-Residence Program, NM, Yaddo; The MacDowell Colony; The Dora Maar Fellowship in France; Pratt Fine Arts Summer Residency; The Millay Colony for the Arts; VCCA; and the Atlantic Center for the Arts. Solo exhibitions include Roswell Museum and Art Center, NM; Hallwalls, Buffalo, NY; The Figge Museum, Davenport, IA; Lesley Heller Gallery, NYC; Joyce Goldstein Gallery, Chatham, NY; The Sioux City Art Center, Sioux City, IA; Spaces,Cleveland, OH; Anton Gallery, Washington DC and Green Chalk Contemporary, Monterey, CA. Group exhibitions include John Molloy Gallery, NYC; Macy Gallery, Columbia University, NYC; the Des Moines Art Center; Bemis Contemporary Art Center; The Bronx River Art Center; The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington DC and The Florida Center for Contemporary Art, Tampa FL; Her work has been published in New American Painting, Mid Atlantic Edition, and featured in Fat Boy Review, Manchester, UK. Farrin received an individual artist grant from the Washington DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities and her work is in the collection of the Des Moines Art Center, The Tang Teaching Museum, Skidmore College, The Figge Museum, The Roswell Museum, Washington DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, Wilson Bldg. among others.
Laurel Farrin is an Associate Professor in the painting and drawing program at the University of Iowa, Iowa City.