Reclamation: The Art of Lucien Shapiro, Ben Venom, and Ravi Zupa

October 27, 2018-January 27, 2019

Reclamation is the act of making something old or discarded new again. In one sense, others’ scraps are others’ choice materials, making something from nothing. The artists in this exhibition advance this idea by using what has been left behind to bring it back to life. The materials themselves are at the heart of this exhibition, representing individual ideologies of the artists. Shapiro, Venom, and Zupa each inhabit a gallery to explore and demonstrate this exhibition’s core concepts.

This exhibition is curated by Josef Zimmerman, curator of contemporary art.

Experience the exhibition in a deeper way:
October 26, 6-9pm: Artist Reception with food and cash bar by Old Crown. $6 Members / $10 Non-Members. Get your tickets here or buy them at the door.
October 27, 12-4pm: Bring your jean jacket, coat, or vest and Ben Venom will sew a free Skull Mustache patch on your jacket inside the gallery. General admission applies.
October 27, 4-5pm:  Manifestation Ritual performed by Lucien Shapiro in the FWMoA Sculpture Court. General admission applies.

The Artists

Ben Venom has been working with repurposed materials to create textile-based pieces for a decade. “I contrast the often menacing and aggressive countercultural components of gangs, punk/metal music, and the occult with the comforts of domesticity. This collision of traditional quilting techniques with elements tied to the fringes of society re-envisions the story of the material through a softer lens. The reclaimed fabrics used in my work contain a multitude of personal histories and everyone’s unexplained stain, tear, or rip is included. These salvaged pieces are sewn into a larger narrative and become a part of a collective history within the work. The fragility of the materials and their assaulting imagery are brought together in the form of a functional piece of art.” His newest body of work, I’m All In, will his methods and statement to FWMoA.

Ben Venom graduated from the San Francisco Art Institute in 2007 with a Master of Fine Arts degree. His work has been shown both nationally and internationally including the Levi Strauss Museum (Germany), the National Folk Museum of Korea, HPGRP Gallery (Tokyo), Jonathan LeVine Gallery (New York), Charlotte Fogh Gallery (Denmark), Wolverhampton Gallery (England), and the Craft and Folk Art Museum in Los Angeles. He has been interviewed by NPR: All Things Considered, Playboy, Juxtapoz Magazine, KQED, Maxim, and CBS Sunday Morning. Venom has lectured at the California College of Arts, the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Southern Graphics Council, Humboldt State University, Oregon College of Art and Craft, and Adidas. Recently, he was the artist in residence at MASS MoCA and the de Young Museum. Ben Venom is currently adjunct faculty at the San Francisco Art Institute.

Ravi Zupa is a self-taught artist known for his mastery over an expansive range of visual styles, media and techniques. Drawing from a love of cultural, religious, and political history, Zupa forms contemporary narratives inspired by art from every corner of the globe and from throughout history. For this exhibition at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art, Zupa has chosen to focus on his three-dimensional “gun” sculptures, which deal with violence and speech. Made from disassembled typewriters and reconstructed to look convincingly like firearms, the well known Mightier Than series infuses highly charged imagery and ideas that create unexpected results.

Lucien Shapiro was born in 1979, in Santa Rosa, CA. He attended San Francisco Academy of Art University and received a BFA in 2003. It was here where Shapiro became addicted to the process of painstaking repetition and meticulous attention to craft. Shortly after his time at school, Shapiro developed a practice called “Urban Obsessions”, which explores both the artist and viewers’ perceptions of identity, addiction, time, and loss. He composes elaborately constructed masks and ornately armored weaponry and vessels, which examine a relationship between modern waste and memories of ancient cultural artifacts. Practices and customs from the past are brought back to light through his revival of discarded materials, transformed into objects analogous with self-protection. A laborious craft and meditative consumption of time transforms forgotten objects into nostalgically interesting and beautiful relics that compel viewers to reevaluate what our everyday possessions represent and mean to us.

His newest film and body of work, Thank You Darkness, Thank You Light, explores Shapiro’s Psychology of self and displays him in a vulnerable state. Shot to help the artist process his personal ideology, the piece was inspired by his experiences with change, growth, and dealing with depression. The work grapples with the normal human experiences of forgiveness, love, and happiness. Set to an evocative and moving soundtrack, the film follows the journey of The Raven, which represents the feminine, and The Spider (recluse), which represents the masculine. Through the path each character takes, they come to grasp that they can only become whole by facing themselves and becoming one entity. In combining the masculine and feminine, Shapiro believes one is able to step out of the darkness into the light to become whole again, which is conveyed in his film.

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