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Shadow Lake

March 9 - April 21

Smack Mellon
92 Plymouth Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201 United States
Wed-Sun, 12–6
(718) 834-8761

Smack Mellon is pleased to announce two solo exhibitions, Katie Bell: A Place for Everything and Everything in Its Place and Austin Ballard: Shadow Lake, opening concurrently on Saturday, March 9, 2019. Both artists create work inspired by the designed and built environment but adopt their own unique approaches. Katie Bell takes discarded and readymade objects to construct immense assemblages that match the industrial scale of Smack Mellon’s building. Austin Ballard, on the other hand, turns his focus onto household objects, specifically light fixtures and lampshades, to create a more intimate setting that resembles a suburban domestic interior. In both of these projects, however, the artists call attention to the way that architecture and design objects shape—whether dramatically or subtly—how we see and respond to the world.

Combining contemporary themes with handicrafts, Austin Ballard’s work conflates innovation and tradition, manmade and natural materials, high and low art to subvert societal and cultural assumptions about gender and labor associated with textiles. Through visceral, yet restrained handcrafted objects and installations, Ballard explores the influence that domestic space, familial relationships, social anxiety, memory, and loss have on our lived experiences. Raised in North Carolina, where the textile industry historically played a fundamental and utilitarian role, he is committed to making art approachable and accessible. With an interest in furniture and home decor, Ballard creates vividly-patterned sculptures out of natural materials such as cane from the rattan palm. Utilizing traditional techniques of textile pattern-making, natural dying and ceramic slab-building, he creates works in which the artist’s hand and labor process are revealed, contrasting the manufactured polish of high-end, modern design.

For his project Shadow Lake, Ballard draws from childhood recollections to create an installation of floating light sculptures and venetian blinds. Often traveling between parents and grandparents growing up, his grandmother’s house in Charlotte, NC, became a symbol of stability because of the way she organized her home. However, attempting to conjure the experience of this domestic space became a disorienting exercise for the artist. As Ballard placed each light sculpture according to hazy recollections of the floor plan, the layering of lampshades in the installation develops into a metaphor for fallible memories. The shadows cast from the woven shades onto the gallery walls further heightens the feeling of distortion, as one might experience during a flashback. Through repeated patterns and fragmentation, Ballard’s work calls attention to the lag, slippage, and reinterpretation of even our most cherished memories.