From March 15 to April 14 an exhibition of Jesse Small’s new work opens at Nancy Hoffman Gallery, including steel screens, chandeliers, tables, mirrors and other small objects. The new work reveals the artist’s commitment to ornamentation, presenting everyday objects as artifacts of a Magical Realist narrative.
“Empty Objects” refers to things that are ghosts of themselves. Taken over and immobilized by ornamentation that is pleasant but unfamiliar, it goes into the depths of that emptiness and concludes that it is made of tough stuff. “
For the past 20 years, Jesse's sculpture has been taking the form of everyday objects that have a history of being decorative and functional. In his work, the ornament takes over the object through a process of cutting thousands of holes. His sculptures represent the mundane object liberated from it's mundane task, thereby free of its masters. The mundane object becomes a ritual object, bearing information of its parent culture. We know so much about the Ancient Egyptians because they buried their culture in the form of ritual objects. Today we build data farms. All of it is just information storage, with varying degrees of longevity.
In the face of digital immateriality, Jesse’s work asks questions about ornament as a method for deploying information that is present in durable objects we live with/in. It also asks about the nature of free will in a duality between function and ornament, where ritual is decentralized.
Jesse’s work does not aim to discredit ornament, but to admire its subtle, viral qualities. The work is hopeful that new ideas are waiting to be discovered just below the surface. However, Jesse's studio practice appears more like hard-rock mining than picking fruit. This is clear in the level of industrialized design and craft apparent in his work, where there is joy in the act of inventing new ornamental motifs and methods of construction. Using new technology and modern materials, Jesse’s work and studio practice investigates what decoration is today, and how it stores information for tomorrow.
Jesse Small was born in 1974. He received a B.F.A. from the Kansas City Art Institute, Missouri and an M.F.A. from Alfred University, Alfred, New York. The artist’s work has been included in exhibitions at The Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art, St. Joseph, Missouri; Daum Museum of Contemporary Art, Sedalia, Missouri; Des Moines Art Center, Iowa; Portsmouth Museum of Art, New Hampshire; Ringling College of Art and Design, Sarasota, Florida; Schein-Joseph International Museum of Ceramic Art, Alfred, New York; Urban Culture Project at La Esquina, Charlotte Street Foundation, Kansas City, Missouri; and abroad at Kuwait Art Foundation, Kuwait City; The Museum of Ceramics, Vallauris, France; The Bernardaud Foundation, Limoges, France; Today Art Museum, Beijing, China; Duolun MOMA, Shanghai, China.
His work is in the collections of Alfred University, Alfred, New York; Arkansas Arts Museum, Little Rock; Daum Museum of Contemporary Art, Sedalia, Missouri; Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, Missouri; Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Overland Park, Kansas; The City of Leadwood, Kansas; Museum of Ceramics, Balouris, France.
He was a Lighten International Artists Exchange Program grant recipient, and took his residency at Experimental Sculpture Factory, Jingdezhen, China. He has received grants and awards from Charlotte Street Foundation, Kansas City, Missouri and Kansas City Art Through Architecture, in partnership with Charlotte Street Foundation, Kansas City, Missouri.