Sunday, January 20, 2008

Jesse Albrecht part 2

Here's part 2 of the interview -

Bret- I feel fortunate to be able to showcase your work. Yours is
a voice/perspective that we don't hear much in the contemporary art world.
Have you run across other artists who are vets of the current war in Iraq?
Jesse - Thank you for the oppourtunity to be included in the show, I would have loved to take a look but my budget is broke, so hopefully next time. Bill Donovan is a vet of the Afganistan Campaign who was in the show, but I don't know anyone else from the Iraq side. Last spring Jamie and CeCe had Bill and I to Richmond as visiting artists and that was the first time Bill and I had a chance to talk about our expierence. We did so over a late night kitchen table drawfest and it was good.

B - What is the most recent change you have seen in your work?
How have they changed from the time when you first got back from Iraq?
J - Showing my work has gone in the direction of instillation with artifacts and pictures from Iraq informing where I am coming from. With Great Uncles gassed in France in WWI and his brothers at Pearl Harbor and Tarawa, my Grandfather 3 1/2 years in New Guinea and Uncles in Vietnam I am examining my family history and how that informed me and my expierence. Initially I couldn't build the pieces fast enough to pour out what I saw, did and felt. My work continues to become more refined in the emotion and expierence are represented. Performance is working its way into the mix as well.

B - Are you still making similar forms with text carved into and/or
painted onto them?
J - My last series of ceramic work was without text but relief of rattlesnakes and straight razors being some of the reoccuring subjects. The cone is the form I am still working with, abstracted to or from the human form. I crowbared the word "love" into some pots I made last summer which all ended up wedding gifts for my closest army buddies. Love N' War has been the series I have been working on for the past three years, and much text has appeared as recognition of friends back in Iraq, wishing their safe return.

B -Did you ever question your thought to write on/into
your pieces?
J - The first year back I didn't question anything I wrote on my work or why I was doing it. Now it is obvious the gap between who I was before I left and who I returned as was put into my work. I didn't want to pull anything back but the most taboo thoughts and feelings.
B - What does the Arabic script say on the untitled piece?
I enjoy seeing what foreign languages do to audiences.
What was you intent in using it in this piece?
J - Allah Akbar, God is Great(er) is the Arabic text I think you are referring to, which is off the Iraqi flag post 1991. It was used to reference some horrors Saddam perpatrated during his rule. With that piece I was screaming back about what I did in Iraq, what it was about for me. I was remembering Iraqis I met who bear Saddam's brutality missing fingers and toes. I was remembering the experience of purchasing medicine, supplies, and delivering it to a childrens hospital in Mosul. I was remembering the medical treatement I provided Iraqi children, civilians, and soldiers--remembering some of the good I did while in Iraq.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Jesse Albrecht

Jesse Albrecht is one of the artists in the current show, "The Word Made Fresh".

Here's his statement for the show:
"My art speaks about my personal experiences in Iraq - what I saw, did, smelled, tasted, felt and thought. WWI, WWII, and Vietnam also sent family members around the globe--war has spanned nearly a century for my family and its effects are ever present. A year of kill or be killed shattered my personal understanding of good and evil, right and wrong. Art helps me process and communicate such an overwhelming sensory and emotional experience and its daily effects. It has become a means to open a dialogue about the experience of combat--love n war--coming home. From beautiful to nauseating sights, feelings, experiences, thought and action. I can not internalize my experience. I can not forget those fighting and those fallen. "

This ceramic piece is titled "I Chose to Live"

Here's part 1 of an interview with him-

Bret: As a gallerist, I have had a real physical interaction
with both of your pieces in the current show. Both
are fairly difficult for one person to handle. I had to
have someone help me lift "I Chose to Live" off of the floor
onto the pedestal. I can read and understand what you
are communicating with the text on these pieces, but I felt
like I was tapping into a more physical understanding
of your experiences as an Iraq War Vet.

Jesse: I had been back in the United States for around eight months when I made those pieces and they were at the front end of the work I made about my experiences. The clay was a canvas, I wasn't thinking much about form, just building the pieces as quickly as possible, often an hour or two--the decoration (drawing/painting on them) was my focus, which was fast and overpowered with emotion/experience. I needed them to be thick and heavy so I could tear into them while I decorated them and not worry about them collapsing. It was a raw time personally and for my art.

Bret: I want to quote you here:
"I need to speak (through art) about my experience—what I saw, did, smelled, tasted, felt and thought—while in Iraq and now while I process such an overwhelming sensory and emotional experience my art serves as the physical through which I am processing that experience."
Jesse: I meet a lot of people who have never talked to someone who has been to Iraq. It got to the point where I felt I had an obligation to make my statement through my work about my experience because the mainstream media misses it so much of the time. And its a different experience for everyone and as it evolves...but the day to day I get here reading the papers and watching the news is not what the soldier is seeing, feeling, I wanted to initiate that conversation with people. I don't have the eloquence or space to write about the sensory and emotional experience Iraq has to offer, much less how I am sifting through my old existance in relation to who I am now...hopefully my work captures just a little bit of that.

Bret: Again, because I've been so up close and personal with these
pieces, I was even able to smell the dirt/mud/clay/mold/algae.
These all spoke to me about memory and its transient nature.
I witness so many people forgetting about what is going on.
Jesse: I am realizing memory changes with where I am at mentally/physically...people can't forget what they never knew, but that is why I am speaking about my time in Iraq. Hopefully I can bring something to people about Iraq aside from another news blip that easily blends away. I hope it initiates a conversation that helps inform people. Without an outlet the outdoor storage initiates the growth of algae...reading into it I think of the homeless veteran and relate that to my work stored behind a garage, covered with mud, ice, mold, and leaves.

Bret: Please tell me about the date on "I Chose to Live"
Jesse: For the first year or two back from Iraq I didn't want to be around people I didn't know becasue I would scan for a threat, but when I would be alone I would become parinoid to the point of hallucination at times. I would barracade myself in my studio so I would hear someone if they were in the building..."I Chose to Live" was the date of a particular night in the studio when I had a real hallucination/breakdown.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

"The Word Made Fresh" Opening Jan. 4, 7-9pm

The colors seem to be a little off here. This show brings together 24 artists from all over the U.S. and one artist from France (REMED)! The opening is this Friday. There will be a puppet show by Sean Samoheyl around 7:30.

Contributing artists: Jamie Boling, Bill Donovan, Leah Beeferman, Matt Betts, Chris Lawson, Jesse Albrecht, Liam Devowski, Travis Robertson, Max Hubenthal, Mike Ball, Dean AEIOU, Cece Cole, Brooke Inman, Heather Bregman, Bret Payne, REMED, Andy Kozlowski, Anthony Meloro, Kate Horne, Travis Jackson, Chris Coy, Arthur Hash, and Sean Samoheyl