Confounding the distinction between the natural and the manufactured, so-called “subspontaneous” plant species are introduced by humans but spread without further intervention, traveling across ecological boundaries and living in diverse forms of symbiosis. The term has double resonance in this exhibition, which presents a curator-cultivated but organically developed collaboration between Francesca Lohmann and Rob Rhee, Seattle-based artists who each, in turn, collaborate with the forces of nature in their sculptural practices. Gravity, time, and unpredictable processes like biological growth play a significant role in the creation of both artists’ works, which are often executed in series that foreground material experimentation and formal variation. Subspontaneous brings works from each individual artist into relationship within an installation designed by the duo, proposing a mutualistic model of co-creation and celebrating contingency, entanglement, and interdependence.
Trained in printmaking, Francesca Lohmann employs sculptural methods such as casting—in which a fluid substance is poured into a mold and allowed to harden—that are related to imprinting, repetition, and mutation. Her bulging, body-like plaster-cast lumps and coils retain impressions of the woven fabric tubes and sacks in which they cured, evidence of the once-liquid plaster’s gravitational strain against its textile “skin.” Sprouted potatoes cast in bronze suspend a process of organic transformation, while a new series of large, plaster-filled sausage casings bear the permanent coloration of transient mold blooms. Bringing an aspect of ephemeral site-specificity to the installation, Lohmann will cast a set of delicate, draped plaster swags and coils directly on the gallery wall.
Rob Rhee’s work is primarily concerned with structural anomalies and environmental manipulation, combining volatile substances with artificial constraints to find slippages in rule-based systems. For his long-term project The Occupations of Uninhabited Space, Rhee distributes cage-like, welded steel sculptures to regional farmers who grow gourds inside them, which then dry and harden into hollow shells. Protruding from their enclosures according to their own obscure sensibilities, the enmeshed gourds create unforeseeable shapes and dictate the sculpture’s orientation. Other featured bodies of work include castings made by pouring incompatible materials like plaster and alginate—a polymer derived from seaweed—into plastic soda bottles wherein the two elements interact in unpredictable ways.
Appearing together in the exhibition as a decentralized field of “motivated forms” on bases of unusual dimension and composition, the works in Subspontaneous shift attention from the singular, autonomous object toward phenomena, processes, and sites of contact—the places where disparate types of matter meet, give way, or remain in tension.
Francesca Lohmann (American, b. 1986, San Francisco, California) lives and works in Seattle. Recent exhibitions of her work have been held at Ditch Projects, Eugene, Oregon; Seattle Freezer; Coffin Farm, Redmond, Washington; Veronica, Seattle; and Jacob Lawrence Gallery, Seattle. In 2017, Lohmann was a finalist for the Brink Award. She received her BFA from Rhode Island School of Design and MFA from Cornell University.
Rob Rhee (American, b. 1982, Bronx, New York) lives and works in Seattle. His work has been exhibited nationally at the Portland Museum of Art, Oregon; the Hunterdon Art Museum, New Jersey; White Columns, New York; the Fort Worth Contemporary Gallery, Texas; and the Korean Cultural Center, Los Angeles, California and internationally at the 10th Berlin Biennale, KW Institute for Art, Germany; and the Ilmin Museum of Art, South Korea. In 2018 he was awarded the Korea Arts Foundation of America Award for Visual Art and was nominated for a Stranger Genius award in 2016. He received his BA from Yale University and MFA from Columbia University, and is currently an Assistant Professor at Cornish College of the Arts.