Pilar Uribe's works generally pertain to matters of the soul, spirituality, reverence, meditation and mindful quietude. Yet for this period of residency, Uribe has focused on a relatively more readily communicable theme, in a sense. Pilar's subject matter this time, derived in part from insights and revelations gained from a memoir she recently read, is healing — as a form of rebirth and renewal, potentially, and as a reminder of life's delicacy and fleeting beauties. In her large, in part gridded-out, inventively mixed-media and, at least partially, chromatically bold drawing, these ideas bloom into life as a large-scale rendering of a hibiscus flower. Rather than the hurt of a wound, Uribe chooses to portray the balm of beauty — unless a certain dark stretch of tar paper implies something more.
Via Johnny Cash's reverberant rendition of "Hurt," a notion of 'hurt' became this residency's driving thematic force. Spatially and conceptual confluent, now, are all the works themselves, yields of the many discoveries, exchanges and transitions that led up to the residency-concluding exhibition. It's a show that permutes ideas of 'hurt' into yet another cover, of sorts, of "Hurt" — this time taking the creative form of a collaborative corpus of art.
Hurting to Healing
Genesis and Content of M. David Residency Exhibition "Hurt"
by Paul D'Agostino
Themes for art exhibitions or collaborative forms of research, reflection, critique and storytelling can come very unexpected places, or even quite nearly from out of nowhere. Such was the case, more or less, with the conversational prompts and thematic ethos for "Hurt," another edition of the M. David Residency and Exhibition Program. This March 2019 iteration features a mix of U.S. and Canadian artists, including Jean Pederson, Christopher Rico, Stephanie Hargrave, Louise Noël, Deborah Kapoor, Francesca Schwartz and Pilar Uribe.
Pent up at home for several months with rather severe physical injuries, gallery and residency director Michael David, a man who isn't really known for taking it easy or slowing down, was basically forced to take it easy and slow down. As the unavoidable reality of that set in, he realized he had probably had such an obligatory slowdown coming for a while, and that it was finally time to commit to taking advice and following orders from doctors. Anyone who knows David at all might already begin to marvel at precisely that.
What David hadn't quite foreseen, even with his now more hindsight-mindful point of view, was that this same sequence of events, this same scenario of healing and recovery, would lead to a relative turnaround of not only lifestyle and regard for personal well- being, but also of personal and collective sentiment. It led to him spending a great deal of uninterrupted time in the immediate company and care of family and friends, a kind of lingering and casual, in certain ways gentle passing of time that it seems so many of us rarely enjoy, or even know how to enjoy, these days.
Not unplugged time. Not off the grid. We are still talking about Michael David, after all. And what we're talking about is simply an extended time of warmth and nurturing, sentiments and acts that are often mutually reciprocating. This period entailed a steady process of spiritual and emotional reassessment, renewal and, in a way, upheaval for David and his loved ones alike. Then, at some point it led Lex Singer, David's son and
dearest pal, to show him the music video for Johnny Cash's cover of a very particular Nine Inch Nails song, "Hurt." Somehow David had no idea that Cash's cover of the song existed. If you're aware of David's enthusiasm for and broad knowledge of music history, this seems utterly incredible. If you're aware enough of the song to know how the inherent hurt of the original version becomes amplified into the more profound hurt resounding throughout Cash's gutturally repackaged rendition, then you know it is utterly moving.
That revelation led David to do what you might expect from him: send out a flurry of excited emails and text messages to people about having his mind blown, doing a social media post or two, and so on. Never off the grid, Mr. David, as you likely know. And always exuberantly inspired by creative discoveries.
Some of those excited emails went out to the group of residency artists several months ago. Soon afterwards, all manner of associations and personal narratives poured forth in their responses. And that's how "Hurt" — as a song, a cover, a video, a tangible feeling, a metaphor, an abstraction — became the conceptual underpinning and title for the seven artists' period of residency, an intense week of work and critique during which this theme has been treated in various ways and in a full range of media. Some of the yields from the artists' efforts building up to and during the week furnish the artworks in yet another form of "Hurt," this time a residency-concluding exhibition.
Creatives of most stripes would tend to agree that their practices serve, at least sometimes, as useful ways to productively channel emotional or spiritual struggles, or maybe even physical pain or discomfort in some way. By no means do such processes always yield results full of sadness and despair, mood and melancholy, spite and spleen. In effect, the "Hurt" address their collective theme in generally indirect ways, or with some manner of self-distancing. The abstract side of things is what prevails — abstractions of an abstract notion rendered palpable and visible in abstract works.