Danielle Kelly, Wendy Kveck, Adam Morey, and Erin Stellmon banded together under the name Freedom>Force while attending graduate art school at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Now, many years later, the Force has come together from their respective states and careers for a special, reunion exhibit in Las Vegas.
The objectives of studio art graduate students at any institution have always been centered on hope, optimism, and control. The practitioners arrive virtually anonymous to one another as a new group takes a chance at two to three years of studio art development. Three and three quarters walls, a door, drop ceiling, concrete floor, fluorescent lights. The key for 24 hour access makes this workspace a monastic retreat, a chosen cell of focus. These sequestered visual art researchers find themselves set within or against an existing cyclical internal local culture in the complex of graduates. What year are you? Are you seeing what I’m seeing? Did you get beer? First studio meeting, he said, “Paint is stinky.”
They make their own cohort, and while not defined by style there’s still space for a camp, a stronghold with a pulse, proof of inhabitance, audible presences, audible annoyance, vapors. They define themselves collectively (or individually) to rally back against alternately inspiring, helpful, toxic, or philosophically exhausted faculty feedback. They find allies in their fight to make good on their fresh terms, new declarations, a pride in their philosophical finds. The fight is to create a novel criteria, to see others grow and experiment beyond the implements they initially brought to prospect with. Beyond the cans of beans, picks, shovels and dynamite, what did you bring to this oblivion? Are you used by this place or do you fight to define it? It’s sitting right in front of you.
They develop campaigns into the local environment to virtually permeate the voids, the corners, the unseen spaces, to sew new definitions and find inoculation against canonized perspectives contextualizing the physical facility. The camp is interstitial now, it has its fireside stories, an interdisciplinary philosophy, expanded cultural programming. Once they learned how, now it’s theirs to make, theirs to own. Do you roll the dice or load them? Why can’t you do both? Freedom Force?
Danielle Kelly is an artist, writer, and educator based in Chicagoland. Her project-based visual art practice ranges from installation to performance and has been featured in solo and group exhibitions in St. Louis, Los Angeles, Seattle, Las Vegas, San Francisco, and Portland, OR.
Wendy Kveck’s studio practice interrogates, subverts and activates contemporary media and art historical depictions of women as cultural markers through the mediums of painting, drawing, collage and performance. She has exhibited her work nationally in contemporary art galleries and museums and has contributed to the Las Vegas arts community in various roles as an artist, educator, advocate, and administrator for non-profit organizations and institutions. She is the founder of Settlers + Nomads, a collaborative curatorial project highlighting contemporary art and artists with ties to Las Vegas, Nevada.
Adam Morey creates work across the languages of drawing, painting and sculpture. He received his undergraduate degree in studio art from University of Texas at Austin and his Masters of Fine Art from the University of Nevada in Las Vegas where he currently works and resides.
Erin Stellmon is an artist and educator in Baltimore, MD by way of Las Vegas, NV; NY, NY and Portland, OR; and has exhibited at museums and cultural institutions nationally and internationally. Her mixed media collages, installations and paintings explore contemporary landscape through barriers, walls and temporary fences intended to question traditional notions of safety and home. Her work during the COVID Pandemic has expanded on these ideas, treading into thoughts of forced isolation and paranoia.
On view at Sahara West Library from June 11 through August 28, 2021.
Reception on Sunday, July 11 from 1-3 pm.
Monday: 10:00AM – 8:00PM
Tuesday: 10:00AM – 8:00PM
Wednesday: 10:00AM – 8:00PM
Thursday: 10:00AM – 8:00PM
Friday: 10:00AM – 6:00PM
Saturday: 10:00AM – 6:00PM
Sunday: 10:00AM – 6:00PM