September 13, 2008

The meaning of making

In a recent NY Times art review, Roberta Smith lamented the fact that the current crop of artists seems to have opted out of skill-building courses like painting and drawing, replacing the direct connection to materials with theory and artspeak. Building a "density of expression," she suggests, is learned not through reading theory, but through looking at visual art, and more importantly, through the process of making traditional objects, like paintings. In my latest review in The Brooklyn Rail, I look at Jilaine Jones's exhibition of sculpture at the New York Studio School as evidence that "making" can indeed create deeper, more complex layers of meaning. Her work embodies a return to hand-making processes and craftsmanship, and re-establishes a premium on aesthetics over art theory and rhetoric. The implicit message in her emphasis may be that the cul-de-sac of transitory site-specific installation and collaboration in which we find ourselves is giving way to a renewed vision of individual authorship, density of expression, and the inexorable presence of discrete objects.

"Jilaine Jones: Sculpture," New York Studio School, New York, NY. Through Sept. 12.

Related posts:
Roberta Smith's advice to young artists: Learn to paint

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