Preservation of Forgetting, a solo exhibition by SoVA Alumna and Anderson Lecture Series coordinator, Sidney Mullis, will be on display at Galleri Urbane in Dallas, Texas, September 9 – October 7. In her new body of work, Mullis labors to let go of topics that preoccupy her mind and artwork: gender, sexuality, desire, and intimacy.
According to Mullis' artist statement: these themes are serious subjects of study consistently under scrutiny; yet, they operate on fluid spectrums of ever-expanding lexicons. It is the very instability of their categories that produces such intrigue and pleasure for her as a maker. Driven by haptic obsession, it is through making that she attempts to understand their evolving parameters—and then take part in pushing their instability further.
Despite this intent to grant herself temporary respite from these preoccupations, Mullis made her most intimate sculptural work in which she rubs every inch of objects that are not hers. These objects were found discarded, leftover, secondhand, or stolen.
Through her touch, she takes in not only their physical weight, but also their imagined class, gender, sex, taste, etc. With a version of papier-mâché, she rubs each corner, undulation, wrinkle, and fold with bits of paper drenched in glue. Once covered and hardened, the mummified objects, such as uneaten pizza, IHOP takeout containers, fake houseplants, hula hoops, yoga balls, and shoes, are precariously stacked into sculptural forms.
This time-intensive process becomes a means to get to know the objects. Mullis gets to see and feel how they were touched, what has lingered in the objects between touch and, marking with torn paper, how she has touched. These objects become containers imbedded with an implied history of each previous owner—for example, a pair of boots has the weight, posture, socioeconomic status, age, and profession of its previous owner permanently wrinkled in its leather.
Despite desiring that this process would coerce forgetting by handling the already forgotten, Mullis intimately preserves and protects these forms—and, in doing so, generates new skins. As sculptures, these paper forms initially look hollow, but upon closer inspection slowly reveal that they are full. This process, which began as an attempt to eclipse past ruminations, builds monuments of touch. Mullis retraces the objects’ imagined past in a path that leads her back to her own inquiry.
Throughout the summer, Mullis has worked in the College of Arts and Architecture’s Borland Project Space, preparing this body of work. Stop by to see work created during open studio times August 21 – 31, 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM. Join us for a closing reception Tuesday, August 29, 4:30 – 6:00 PM in the Borland Project Space.
Mullis’ work has been exhibited in a number of locations including Berlin, Germany and Tokyo, Japan. She has had solo shows at the Leslie Lohman Museum (New York City) Future Tenant Gallery (Pittsburgh, PA) Lock Haven University (Lock Haven, PA) University of Mary Washington, (Fredericksburg, VA) and more. Mullis is the recipient of the MASS MoCA residency, Ox-Bow MFA residency, and a Creative Achievement Award from Penn State University. She is represented by Galleri Urbane, Dallas, TX.
She has upcoming exhibitions at Bucknell University (Lewisburg, PA) October 2017, Neon Heater (Findlay, OH) January 2018, and Rowan University (Glassboro, NJ) also in January 2018. In addition, Mullis will be a visiting artist-in-residence at Rowan University in Spring 2018.