United States of America
Char Schwall is a visual artist in the areas of painting, drawing and fiber arts; she is also an arts educator with extensive experience in multidisciplinary education. Her work investigates the natural environment, principles of growth and organic systems and color as a language. Her most recent body of work addresses ideas of gender identity and the fluidity of subjectivities through body/brain connections. As an early childhood educator, Schwall has extensively studied the educational system in the municipality of Reggio-Emilia, Italy, and co-edited and co-authored the book In the Spirit of the Studio: Learning from the Atelier of Reggio Emilia. During the COVID-19 crisis, she sewed masks as a volunteer for KC Helps and The Sewing Labs in Kansas City.
Char Schwall’s creative practice is an exploration of two material languages: paint and textiles. By placing two material languages (two material bodies of knowledge) in conversation with one another, her work investigates concepts of surface, gendered space, fluidity, and overall softness. The aesthetic trajectory in the work is one of openness, growth, the expansion of organic systems and morphology. The writing of French philosopher Luce Irigaray, who explores the complex, and sometimes controversial, relationship between the feminine and the fluid, also inspires her work. Schwall’s aesthetic seeks to create places of openness, of a relation to the other; a generative place where birth and rebirth can continuously prevail. Through these visual actions, the works embody a womb-space, a gendered space that reveals multiple states of transition.
I began the #FUTURE program with questions that addressed gender implications of different media and materials: is sewing a feminine art or not? Do materials have a culturally implied gender or not? I first investigated these questions through digital collages, using imagery of fiber arts, garments and gender transformation through images and sketches of the brain. These collages envision a new body of work that addresses the mind-body aspect of transgender experience.
For my collaborative group with Beth Grabowski and Clare Thomas, we created a project that had several different stages. The project, Woman As, consisted of us each buying second-hand clothes in thrift shops, transforming the garments and then giving them away to someone or back to the shops. Processes of memory, empathy and collaboration were key ideas.
The garments that I chose to transform were connected to stories and desires from my childhood, and addressed desires from the past that were restricted due to gender normativity. The transformed garments will have a new future, as they will be owned and used by someone new. Our group also created a sewing circle to reenact Woman’s collaborative traditions as well. The sewing circle was documented through video recording. The work I have created, or co-created, as part of the #FUTURE program will inform my creative practice for years to come.
1964 | Denver, Colorado, USA
Lives and works in Kansas City, Missouri, USA
1991 | MFA, Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, USA
1987 | BFA, Kansas City Art Institute, Kansas City, Missouri, USA
2021 | Sea Lover, Bruno David Gallery, St. Louis, Missouri, USA
2021 | Kansas City Flatfile & Digital Flatfile, H&R Block Artspace, Kansas City, Missouri, USA
2021 | Bilingual: Abstract & Figurative, Bruno David Gallery, St. Louis, Missouri, USA
2017 | Breaking, Splitting, Seaming, Bruno David Gallery, St. Louis, Missouri, USA
2012 | The Ragdale Foundation, artist residency, Lake Forest, Illinois, USA
2010 | Vermont Studio Center, artist residency, Johnson, Vermont, USA
2009 | National Endowment for the Arts grant, Ranch Arts Center, Art Educator Institute residency, Snowmass, Colorado, USA
#6 | FUTURE: results
Artists in dialogue
“We must begin to educate ourselves, no longer in the critical exercise, but in the propositional abundance of ideas and worlds. That is the now of tomorrow ” CHUS MARTÍNEZ
#FUTURE (English cohort) was a new session of Together Apart through which we embarked into different considerations and proposals about and for the future. Taking as a framework artistic and conceptual references in relation to utopian and situated futures, the international cohort of artists worked individually and in collaboration, addressing the main theme through artistic practice, collective discussions and conceptual frameworks. This was a specially interesting cohort in regards to the articulation of disciplines and technologies. The working proposals were approached by creations that included printmaking to new media arts, textile arts and sustainable practices, including architecture and design. To mention only a few of the statements that the artists proposed, future was addressed as the negative space that implies how a form might move into it, future is the feeling of anticipation, future is the will to get back cancelled desires, future is transformation, future is restoration, future is expanding the present, future is a wheel spinning in its axis…
Transformation as a process to evoke the future was central in the work of many artists: transformation of materials (reuse, recycle, repetition, erasure), transformation of subjectivities (due to personal will or to external experiences) including gender transformation and approaches to transformations in our brain and body structures.
What other temporalities does the nature offer? Artists approached nature as the main master to explore life cycles, continuities of transformation and an endless source of wonder.
Nature and culture, considered in an imbricate dialogue and not as separate, allowed us to think in different timelines. Artists chose to work in collaboration with nature, from creating working materials from natural resources, as producing paper with plants, using poisonous leaves for an artistic gesture or exposing the artwork to outside atmospheric conditions for long periods of time.
The future of our artistic practices were also considered from proposals which would only unravel in the future or by creating a testament for the future distribution of artwork, even through taking care of the waste that art produces.
On July 14th we will make a public online presentation of all the collaborations which were initiated through this online programme and we will continue exploring through the practice such challenging and fundamental questions related to the future.
DANIELA RUIZ MORENO | Curator-in-Residence
FUTURE VIRTUAL OPENING
July 14th, 2021
4PM GMT-3 | Argentina
Daniela Ruiz Moreno, connecting from Madrid, Spain
Joseph Scheer, connecting from Alfred, NY, USA
Diaa Ahmedien | Cairo, Egypt
Christopher Bradd | Toronto, Canada
Jess Carlock | Portland, OR, USA
Lindsey Clark Ryan | USA
Lucio Gorzalczany | Buenos Aires, Argentina
Beth Grabowski | Chapel Hill, NC, USA
Trisha Gupta | Burtonsville, USA
Lorena Pradal | Zárate, Argentina
Claudia Roselli | Florence, Italy
Carrie Scanga |Portland, Maine, USA
Char Schwall | Kansas City, MO, USA
Rachel Singel | Louisville, Kentucky, USA
Kelsey Stephenson | Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Clare Thomas |Victoria, BC, Canada
Gerry Trilling |Kansas City, MO, USA