Alison Owen

species of spaces

Species of Spaces incorporates objects from artists who have shown at Smack Mellon, or have had studios there.

I thought of Smack Mellon as a type of archive, and have gathered/presented objects, ephemera, extra materials, artwork, sketches, and books from the abovementioned artists. I visited artists at their studios and took notes, photographs, talked, explored. Over the course of the conversation, some object would stand out to me, and I would request it for my installation. The process was very organic and intuitive: a book might stand out to me because I had a conversation about it in a different artist’s studio a week before, a quilt square might look similar to the die-cut stamp I had selected from someone else. All of these objects were significant to the artists I met with, but weren’t usually something that the artist would display in their own shows. I brought these objects back to my studio, and created new taxonomies based on the ways that they related to each other. Into this archive I inserted my own work, in the form of material interventions, found objects, drawings, and paintings. This project has been like a long conversation, starting and stopping and starting again in different people’s studios. There is a huge variety of working methods, studio organization methods, and subjects to study, but there are also points of overlap, and I am interested in this overlap, the recurrence of materials and methods.

The shelving is made of wood salvaged from around the city, often found in the dumpsters or hallways outside the studios of the artists I visited. I based the framework for the shelving on the row of windows on the facing wall, matching shelf to windowpane. Objects are placed from floor level to far overhead, some are only visible with the use of binoculars, while others can be studied up close. My own work and the work of other artists weave together in a sort of conversation, but can be identified by studying the hand-drawn inventory book and the installation notes.