2021_Horn Gallery_GANCH

GANCH | Please recycle this bag series: Eyes Emoji, Necklace for a Narwhal
Different Land | Different Sea
April 14 – June 20, 2021

GANCH  |  Exhibition Statement

The artwork I make will deliberately not endure. The materials I collect and use will break down. They will become brittle and decay, rendering them unable to be passed on to future generations. Other pieces will participate in a circular economy, their parts disassembled, their materials reused. As a fourth-generation jeweler, I have cultivated a deep appreciation for how traditional materials are embedded with intrinsic and acquired values and meanings. However, it is the contradictory quality of heirlooms that I now explore through sculpture-installation. Trading metal for plastic, a ubiquitous symbol that celebrates our worship of the present and disregard for the future, I make anti-memorials born out of eco-anxiety. They point to how the accumulation of objects and our attachments to their narratives and material values can prevent us from making new histories. 

I fuse my passion for making with environmental and social concerns. Early on in my career, after earning a degree in geology, I joined Ethical Metalsmiths to create a platform for change. This work shifted my artistic focus, and challenged me to incorporate environmental values into material choices and conceptual motivations. Traditionally trained, my approach to making means honoring techniques regardless of the materials I work with. Common waste, such as plastic, is easily dismissed and seen as repugnant. This is too simplified however, and I look for resourcefulness and reconciliation through hours spent working with these environmental adversaries. I see myself as both an advocate for and against the items we conveniently throw in our recycle bins. While plastics are vilified, they have useful properties not yet replaceable. 

I amplify the complicated relationship between disposable objects and landscape. These geographies of grief and criticism celebrate labor, optimism, beauty, and humor and use scale to immerse the viewer in the urgency of our times. I tease out beauty and from a distance the sculptures draw the viewer in through their familiar forms. However, up close their menace unfolds and the stains of usage highlight our collective complacency. This is true of Emoji Series, 2020, where the exaggerated digital symbols are rendered from thousands of strips of plastic bags. The crying emoji, broken heart, and ‘NO’ sign evoke landscape. In fact, they become a continuation of landscape, as the ubiquity of their material DNA has endless reach. 

Spending countless hours in the studio creating work with an environmental enemy is a rumination on peacemaking with a significant adversary that is toxic to our biological and biospheric health. It is also a reflection on the complex balancing act between materiality and artistic expression. The work harnesses solastalgia, or eco-anxiety, to challenge cultural practices that cause environmental devastation while also celebrating the meaningful narratives behind our relationship to things. Ultimately, I am beseeching a closer look, a chance to scrutinize our insidious throw-away culture.

GANCH | Please recycle this bag series: "No" Emoji, Drift
GANCH | Drift, 2021, Sound installation: earbuds, plexiglass scraps, steel, aluminum, 6-channel amplifiers, iPhones, silicon grommets 87H x 364W x 20D in., as installed

DRIFT  |  Susie Ganch 

Drift is a piece about a world oversaturated with mechanical noise. It is a walk through metaphorical clouds where an incessant anthropocentric-age din floats across them.

Sounds that guided us and gave meaning to the world around us for millennia have been replaced. Instead, from a distance the whirl of highway traffic sounds remarkably like the sound of waves crashing on the beach. Air conditioning units generate enough noise to block out the sound of the wind rustling the leaves on the trees. More dire perhaps,  is that we are using sounds from the natural world in new ways. Human ways.  Melodic bird “calls” that once asked only of us that we listen can now be reminders of meetings or birthdays.

Drift explores the idea of harnessing sounds emitted or captured from my rose colored iPhone SE.  Over the course of several months I recorded a daily journal of sounds using my Voice Memo App. A soundscape of these layered noises drift discordantly across stylized clouds in a soft ceaseless auditory bombardment.  Thousands of classic earbuds symbolize our increasingly mediated experience.

The one non-human or human-made noise is the “tweet” of the classic iPhone text messaging sound. A sound that is so ubiquitous that it may be more recognizable to some than the birds in their backyards. It turns heads in meetings, auditoriums, and classrooms, causing countless hands to reach out, grab their phones and check, “was that mine?” This ever-present and insistent call epitomizes distraction and a lack of presence.  In Drift, I deliberately take that mechanical tweet and turn it back into a “real bird” by stretching, flipping and twisting the sound. Convincingly authentic the rendered becomes the new normal.

Three different collages of sound drift across the clouds. Listen to a 2-minute segment of the 30-minute piece HERE.

GANCH | Drift, Landscape #2: Purisima
GANCH | Landscape #2: Purisima, 2019, Collected used bottles and faux pearls, wood, silk, 23H x 60W x 60D in. on pedestal
GANCH | Landscape #3: Nurse Logs, 2020, Collected used single-use plastic shopping bags and water bottles, foam, wood, 16H x 24W x 36D in.
GANCH | Necklace for a narwhal, 2015, 2020, Collected used plastic bottle lids and faux pearls, foam, 82H x 46W x 8D in., as shown

SUSIE GANCH  |  Artist 

Susie Ganch is a sculptor, jeweler, and educator living in Richmond, VA where she is associate professor and head of the metal program for the Department of Craft and Material Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University. Ganch received her MFA from University of Wisconsin-Madison. Part of her practice is directing Radical Jewelry Makeover, an international jewelry mining and recycling project that continues to travel across the country and abroad. Issues of waste and cultural habits of consumption are imbued through her work.

Recent solo exhibitions include Have a Nice Day, Quirk Gallery (VA); How Soon is Now?, Mississippi State University Visual Arts Center; TIED, Richmond Visual Arts Center (VA); Land and Sea, Sienna Patti Contemporary (MA).

Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally in museum exhibitions including Smithsonian National Museum for Women in the Arts (DC), Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Design Museum (London), National Gallery of Victoria (Australia), Ueno Royal Museum (Japan), Kohler Art Center (WI), and Milwaukee Art Museum (WI).

Collections include Los Angeles County Museum, Asheville Art Museum (NC), Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Fuller Craft Museum (MA), Metal Museum (TN), Quirk Hotel (VA), John Michael Kohler Art Center (WI), and Kohler Company (WI). Grants received include Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Fellowship, Peter S. Reed Foundation Grant, Theresa Pollack Fine Art Award, Virginia Commission for the Arts Grant, and multiple VCU faculty research grants.

GANCH | Please recycle this bag series: Crying Emoji, 2020, Collected used single-use plastic shopping bags, 44H x 28W x 3D in.
GANCH | Please recycle this bag series: !, 2020, Collected used single-use plastic shopping bags, 72H x 24W x 3D in.

INQUIRIES  |  For more information or to purchase works in the exhibition please contact Kathryn Gremley at gallerydirector@penland.org or 828.765.6211


JOIN US |  Please join us for a conversation with the artist on Thursday May 6th at 5:00 via Zoom.  Register for the event HERE

Susie Ganch Website

Artist Video:  Courtesy of Sienna Patti Contemporary (MA)

Artist Video: Pile, Starbucks on Robinson, John Michael Kohler Arts Center

Photography credit: David Hale, photography from 2020 installation at the Visual Arts Center of Richmond (VA)

Gallery representation by Sienna Patti Contemporary (MA)

Many thanks to Kelley Morrison for her assistance. 

Susie Ganch

Penland School of Crafts
3135 Conley Ridge Road
Penland, NC 28765

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