April 29, 2016 (reception 6 to 10 pm), Thunder-Sky, Inc. presents “Radically Visible,” featuring the works of Sky Cubacub, Lindsey M Whittle, Craig Matis, and Antonio Adams. Also on the bill, in the gallery basement, Thunder-Sky, Inc.’s Emily Brandehoff is curating “Bowie in the Basement,” featuring over 30 artists’ visions of what David Bowie meant to generations of fans and artists. Both exhibits close June 11, 2016.
Cubacub, Whittle, Matis, and Adams are artists who use costume, performance, language, and symbol as vital ways to break down the barriers between artists and audience, and to both celebrate and invigorate the conversations and tensions around identity, appearance, and meaning. The title and spirit of “Radically Visible” come from Cubacub, who writes, “Everyday is a performance where I bring my body as a kinetic sculpture into the consciousness of the people I interact with. Clothing is your second skin; it changes the way you hold yourself. I consider it armor because it has the power to give you the confidence and strength to feel comfortable in your first skin. Society wants us as QueerCrips to be invisible, to not draw attention, and this is reflected through the clothing options that are available for people with disabilities and undergarments for trans* folks.”
The works in the show range from clothes and performances to paintings, drawings, and collages. Performances will happen throughout the evening of the opening reception.
Artists Bios and Statements:
Antonio Adams: Born in Cincinnati in 1981, Antonio Adams has been drawing, painting and creating since he was a little boy. Now his work is exhibited and collected nationally. He is one of the co-founders of Visionaries & Voices, an arts organization for artists with disabilities in Cincinnati, as well as Thunder-Sky, Inc., an art gallery also in Cincinnati. His sculptures, paintings and drawings have been featured at White Columns Gallery in New York City, The Outsider Art Fair (New York City), The Contemporary Art Center (Cincinnati), The Cincinnati Art Museum, Base Gallery, Visionaries + Voices, the Pittsburgh Folk Art Exhibit and Symposium, Middletown (Ohio) Fine Arts Center, Fitton Center for Creative Arts (Hamilton, Ohio), University of Cincinnati Gallery, Kennedy Heights Arts Center (Cincinnati), Country Club Gallery (Cincinnati and Los Angeles), and In the Gallery (Nashville, Tennessee). His art was featured in an exhibition at the Museum of Everything in London, England. He has an upcoming exhibit at the Westin Gallery in Cincinnati in November 2015. Antonio Adams wears an elaborate costume to every art opening he attends. Made from felt, glitter, and fabric paint. Antonio calls it his “Art Thing Kingdom Master” attire. A triangular facemask shields the bottom of his face, and on his head he wears a crown. Antonio features himself in this costume in many of his drawings and paintings as well. He has been diligently building a visual and moral philosophy that has sustained him through a lot of stress and strife, including the untimely death of his mentor and friend, Raymond Thunder-Sky. Clown- and construction-worker-costumed when he journeyed throughout the city, Raymond was a fixture of downtown Cincinnati street-culture for over 20 years. He was an artist who gleaned inspiration both from performance and from drawing the world exactly the way he saw it. Raymond’s drawings are done mostly in pencil and magic-marker, and depict buildings being torn down and replaced by imaginary facilities with titles like Clown Suit Factories and Card Trick Amusement Parks. Each drawing is organized straightforwardly, with imagery of construction and demolition festooned with a few lines of narration in a careful script. In one archetypal drawing, a movie theatre is gutted, with a wrecking ball suspended above the wreckage, a nearby caption reading: “Last showing at Old Valentine Theatre in Downtown Toledo Will Being Torn Down to Clearing Way for New Ringling Brothers & Barnum & Bailey Circus Store.”
Sky Cubacub, the creator and founder of Rebirth Garments, is a Gender Queer Person of Color who lives and works in Chicago, IL. They first took a chainmaille class from Rebeca Mojica of Blue Buddha Boutique when they were 13 years old. They were drawn to the tactility of the medium, and ended up finishing their project by the time everyone else had only completed an inch. In June 2010, Sky showed Repetitive Motions, a debut collection of eighteen garments. They used materials such as scissors, aluminum sheet metal, wax, bicycle inner tubes, paper and their first love, chainmaille, with astonishing skill that is a result of obsessive repetitive practice. Their designs are couture in the truest sense of the word, for they create every piece by hand for specific individuals to wear in calculated combinations, an overall vision that is a “portrait” of that individual’s personality. “My interest lies in using the form of the body to hold art. My work is sculpture over fashion”, says Sky. Sky received full tuition Presidential, and Governor’s merit scholarships from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where they graduated with a BFA in May 2015. In summer of 2014, Sky started a new line of custom gender non-conforming lingerie, clothing and accessories for people on the full spectrum of gender, size and ability called Rebirth Garments (rebirthgarments.com). Artist statement: I have always been interested in the strength that chainmaille suggests. I have been building myself this armor or protection, not against harm exactly, but as a way to give me courage. It has given me the strength to be social. Visibility is an important factor in my personal work, which has forced me to get over my shyness. In the same way that makes me less shy, it is also is kind of a crutch. It is my way of meeting people; I never have to approach anyone, because they always approach me first. My chainmaille is a prosthetic for the communication of my inner world. My body, my identity and my prosthesis are one cohesive being. Everyday is a performance where I bring my body as a kinetic sculpture into the consciousness of the people I interact with in passing and on a daily basis. Clothes are a representation of our culture. It is a personification of an industrialized culture where repetition is used in the service of the assembly line. In my practice, the intensive handwork makes the process the most important part and gives me inspiration. Chainmaille has been the catalyst to every other medium that I excel in; all of the mediums I enjoy are obsessive and have repetitive patterns. Through chainmaille, I have found my patience. My work is an exploration of different repetitive movements: the opening and closing of jump rings, the up and down movement of the needle, the pulling of a squeegee, and the repeating shapes I cut. This repetitive process is used to create custom made garments, more couture than manufacture. It is perhaps a representation of a culture in transition to a post-industrialized society; one whose emphasis is not the production of goods, but concepts, innovations, knowledge, and service. Rebirth Garments is my soft armor. My collection challenges mainstream beauty standards, sizeist/ ableist notions and the gender binary. Clothing, especially the foundation garment is the closest thing to your skin, it is your second skin; it changes the way you hold yourself. I consider it armor because it has the power to give you the confidence and strength to feel comfortable in your first skin. Society wants us as QueerCrips to be invisible, to not draw attention, and this is reflected through the clothing options that are available for people with disabilities and undergarments for trans* folks. Rebirth combats this invisibility cloak by refusing to assimilate through a dress reform movement; a politicallyforceful aesthetic style I call “Radical Visibility”. Read my manifesto at http://rebirthgarments.com/radical-visibility-zine/
Craig Matis is from Cleveland, Ohio. “Much of my work, although not all, has pertained to social inclusion/exclusion. In the past, issues such as racism and parenting an autistic child have been addressed. The circus, in the context of the visual arts, has often been presented as a metaphor for the human condition. The circus is a non-traditional community that has always existed outside the mainstream of society. With the creation of “Tightrope: Walk the Line”, a wall installation that combines visual art with an original song, the most direct visual approach could have been executed by a much more literal interpretation of the song. However, I chose to come from an entirely different angle by drawing a parallel between the circus world and a group of people that society also looks upon as existing outside the mainstream: the trans* community. Though much has changed for the trans* community in the last few years, with regard to the public’s awareness, there is still a measure of societal ignorance and discomfort about the struggles these individuals endure to become the people they believe they were always meant to be. I am not a trans*, but speaking from the perspective of an ally, and based upon readings and interviews I conducted with trans* individuals, I have attempted to express the frustration, anger, and isolation that can often be part of living as a trans* human being through the creation of this work.”
Lindsey M Whittle received a BFA in painting from the Art Academy of Cincinnati in 2007. She taught English as a second language for 1 year in 2009, in a fashion high school in Gifu, Japan. Whittle spent 5 years from 2007-2012, teaching art to youth at Baker Hunt Cultural Art Center in Covington, KY. She continued her education studying fashion at the University of Cincinnati for 3 years from 2009-2012. She then went on to pursue a masters in fashion at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago from 2012- 2014, all while maintaining her position as the “Master Crafter” at Kiki Magazine from 2012- 2015. Whittle is presently co-running PIQUE (art space) with fellow artist Annie Brown, dabbling in costume sewing for Schenz Theatrical, freelancing, and teaching her heart out in sewing and performance art from middle school through college. Artist statement: Lindsey M Whittle is performance/fashion/visual artist that uses silliness as a starting off point to collaborate with others and spread good cheer. Whittle tries to set a stage for other great minds to come in and activate her work. Her work is often connected to things wearable and the body. There are almost always elements of play, change, transformation, interactivity and possibility in everything she does. She strives to enrich people’s lives on a simple daily level, therefore the setting for her work functions best in public places where people are. She has worked with bright colored versions of materials such as: fabric, wood, foam, wearable paper, make-up, Velcro, acrylic Plexiglas and more. For contact and/or more information visit www.sparklezilla.com.