Your Funeral connects art and the Internet

By WILL KIRSCH | November 17, 2016

Most people recognize that art is pretty cool. Whether we’re talking about hyper-realistic portraits and still lives that one can often find on Facebook or about some priceless works in a museum, everyone enjoys art in some way. Something else people really enjoy in this age of the all-powerful internet is memes.

How are these two things related? Well, that is a good question, and before the night of Friday, Nov. 11, I would have told you they weren’t. However, people who are actual artists, and are decidedly more intelligent and talented than I am, disagree.

If you have never been to Terrault Contemporary, which is an artist-run gallery co-directed by Brooks Kossover and Carlyn Thomas, all you really need to know is that it is a nice space. The gallery is simple, with plain wood flooring and white-washed walls. It felt more like a nice apartment than an art gallery, except for the fact that it lacked furniture and a bedroom and a kitchen.

Suffice to say it was a pleasant place to be, and the atmosphere was furthered by the fact that it was full of interesting people and humorous, introspective and pleasantly disturbing art.

Your Funeral featured eight artists: Jared Africa, Jacy Catlin, Binny Debbie, Lesser Gonzalez, Michael Anthony Farley, Janea Kelly, Maya Martinez and Lexie Mountain.

Frankly, I do not feel terribly comfortable trying to find a universal theme or analyzing their work stylistically because I am not an art critic, although I pretended to be one after having several glasses of boxed wine. Nonetheless, I love art, especially art that forces the viewer to think, and Your Funeral had plenty of that.

Binny Debbie’s work is particularly striking. She put together several “starter kits” with inkjet on photo paper à la that Twitter trend that we all used to make fun of our friends. Debbie’s Starter Pack Series 1-5, while comedic, also addressed serious social issues of rape culture.

Using a format associated most with mocking social cliques and juxtaposing everyday sexual assaults and patriarchal exploitations has an interesting effect, making you laugh quietly while you brain cells collectively weep with sadness and disgust. Debbie seemingly keeps a low profile, but you can find her art on Instagram.

Jacy Catlin’s ink drawing pieces were different — still humorous, and without the added pain of introspection and realizations about the evils that women are made to suffer.

Catlin is a comedy writer, stand-up comedian and, to make a redundant point, an artist. His exhibited work is simply drawn and incredibly strange but fully awesome.

One notable piece compared the character traits of wizards and sorcerers, aptly titled Wizards vs. Sorcerers. Another is a drawing of a raft with the subtitle, “similar to boats, but rafts.” That one is titled Rafts — I think you can see the pattern here.

Not everything at Your Funeral is all fun and games. Janea Kelly and Maya Martinez’s contributions to the show felt decidedly darker.

Kelly’s works, which were inkjet prints on photo paper, were some of the most Internet-y, using cropped screenshots of Facebook messenger conversations and tweets. Two pieces, </auto-immune> and Luv in the time of DMs, project messages, related to one another but disconnected, over images of naked women.

Martinez’s lone piece, Girls love sugar, is a small pink-frosted cake decorated with writing and hearts, accented with flowers laid beneath the tin in which it is held. Projecting from the cake is a steak knife, bleeding. The interpretation of that can be left to people more intelligent than I, but I am qualified to say that I liked the piece. Expand upon my lacking analysis by checking out her website, yeastgirl420.com.

Lexie Mountain, who, as a columnist, critic, performer, comedian and artist, seems to be a bit of a Renaissance woman, had eight featured works in the show. They were small watercolors displaying short phrases written in cartoonish block lettering. Like some of the other work in the exhibition, Mountain’s paintings felt cerebral, raising questions about the significance of such words and phrases and whether or not there’s something more to them. As an aside, one painting is titled Not For Sale. It’s priced at two hundred dollars.

Jared Africa, who is rather simply described as “an artist from Reno, Nevada,” had three pieces on display. All three were flowing, organic abstractions — two in color, one in black and white. Africa’s color drawings were a cacophony of different shapes and objects (pretty certain I saw the worm from Tremors in a piece titled Remnant). To me, Africa’s work felt like an insane notebook doodle at its apex.

As you may have noticed, I have attempted in this article to thematically organize the discussions of different works. However, with a few left, I am out of themes.

So here they are: Michael Anthony Farley’s Wasted Potential is his sole addition to the show. It’s an oil painting of tombstone-shaped canvases, one marked with the artist’s name, the medium and date, and the other emblazoned with the title of the piece.

To anyone with a nihilist sensibility, this piece could be quite appealing. I liked it.

Lesser Gonzalez Alvarez, a Cuban artist, showed two pieces, both of which were linear abstractions in primary-colored enamel on aluminum panels.

Alvarez’s website describes his work as inspired by ancient and archaic symbology in the contemporary context. It comes across; his work is evocative of common words and symbols while remaining abstract and elusive.

As previously mentioned, art is cool. If you agree, do yourself a favor and look up these artists or pay a visit to Terrault Contemporary, where you will find the Your Funeral exhibition installed until Dec. 17.

Terrault has housed a number of other shows in the past. These shows included Teacher, which was a series of acrylic cast paintings by artist Dominic Terlizzi, a Maryland native who graduated from MICA.

Another past show was dreamcloud from 2015. It featured work by two artists, Audrey Van De Castle and Courtney Corcoran and explored a number of themes including femininity.

Digital paintings were on show at the April exhibition uncool by artists Wickerham & Lomax (a collaborative project by Baltimore-based artists Daniel Wickerham and Malcolm Lomax).

Terrault is located on W. Saratoga Street.

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