Wednesday, November 11, 2009
conversations with TONY LUENSMAN
Images: Tony Luensman at Herron Galleries next to his piece Literalization of Transubstantiation (A Child's Vision of the Sacred Heart) and his piece Treeblower, also on exhibition at Herron Galleries.
Last week, we at Herron were fortunate to have Cincinnati-based artist Tony Luensman with us for a lecture and studio visits with MFA students. Luensman has two pieces up in the current group show at Herron Galleries, which is called Between History and Memory and is open through November 20. He has a solo exhibition up at Clay Street Press in Cincinnati called ABRADE. Luensman was educated in painting and sculpture at Kenyon, has had multiple residencies in Taiwan, is a recipient of the 2008 Efroymson Contemporary Arts Fellowship among many other awards, and his art is held in many public collections. He has been widely exhibited both nationally and internationally in group and solo shows, including a 2007 exhibition entitled Arenas at the Cincinnati Art Museum where his art was placed throughout the space so visitors could revisit the museum's collection while seeking out his art.
Luensman believes titles are very important, and often thinks through words rather than images in his art. "My ideas come verbally," he says. A lot of his art straddles the line between innocence and a darker reality quite poignantly, but through the the more adult-like themes that exist within his art he is also trying to restore the sense of innocence in experiences that would not traditionally be interpreted that way. He views some of his art as "a way of making sexual issues not so serious" for himself. His art's ability to embody completely different meanings and situations simultaneously is its greatest strength. "I like setting up that tension where people may be unaware of what they are doing," he explains in reference to viewers' interactions with his art.
I recently had the pleasure of having some conversations with Tony here at Herron Galleries. Below are the videos, and also some photographs of some of his art, with his explanations.
The following images are courtesy of Tony Luensman:
“I like to occasionally undermine an innocent experience one may have with a work by building in an uneasy history and/or reference. In the case of Flashcracker, the viewer may dance on the circle of sand to activate the 4th of July video firecrackers while being unaware that the 'Flash' in the title refers to a quote I heard on NPR in which a soldier described walking along the desert with a fellow soldier and in the next instant, upon stepping on a landmine, his buddy became a cloud of ‘pink mist and bone chips.’”
Angel Swing, 2009
"Angel Swing refers to the hangings of 2 gay youths in Iran. The neon form in the piece is at once a noose, a 'tire' swing, and a halo. the images released on the internet of this 2005 event, depict a flatbed truck which served as the gallows platform. In my piece i have a chain coming out from the underside of a toy truck which holds the neon transformer - viewers, then, can turn the neon light on and off but, at the same time, taking unwitting part in the executions."
Ladder For Blurred Perspective, 2009