An Interview with Katie Hargrave

“History Repeats Itself” is a new body of work by Chattanooga-based artist Katie Hargrave. “History Repeats Itself” explores the 2016 election season through a series of new pieces: “Listen to Wolf” is a video installation of Bernie and Hillary trying not to talk over each other at the primary debate; “Cease and Desist Karaoke” is a custom-karaoke of songs used by past and present candidates without the permission of the musicians. Do your best Trump impression of “Can’t Get No Satisfaction” alongside Palin’s “Barracuda;” and finally the titular piece “History Repeats Itself” are a series of take-away posters of redacted speeches of all 16 GOP candidates with the duplicate words removed. Part satire, part catharsis, join in exploring the absurdity of this political moment.

Below is an interview with the artist.


You’re based in Chattanooga, TN right now. I’m curious to know what the art community is like there.

The community is small. I think Chattanooga is a growing city, there are more and more people who are moving to the city, but the art community I think is still pretty small. There are many people who are making work, but not many whose primary form of employment is art. There aren’t a ton of galleries, but that is slowly starting to change. We have maybe two DIY art spaces and a couple of established non-profits and just a few commercial galleries.


Tell me about the work you will be showing at GfG.

It’s going to be three main pieces, all of the work is about this election cycle. I’ve sort of been thinking about how we regular Americans plug into that cycle. There is the broadsheet project which covers all of the GOP candidates. I’ve removed all of the duplicate words from each of their speeches. The first person to announce has the most unique words and the last to announce has the least, because over time everything became repeated. I know they are going to be available for free, first come first serve, at the opening. I guess I’m sort of thinking about how it feels when you look at the way they speak; they don’t say a whole lot in any of their speeches, and whatever the touchstone thing is that week, that is what emerges as the content, and the rest is total formula. They think they’re wise, and then they don’t say much. They talk about whatever it is going on in the media that week, and that’s it. So you don’t have to listen to the whole thing if you can just pick out those elements right? With the formula, you still get some of the unique information so you still get the name of the spouse, you get the name of the children and then you get some of the stuff that is happening in that moment. For instance, when everyone was talking about Hillary’s emails and Benghazi, you see that show up, regardless.


Have you done this with other speeches from our past, or is it just this election cycle?

Yeah I originally started think about this when I did it by hand for Lincoln’s second inaugural just out of curiosity and also the Gettysburg Address just to see what they would sound like. Those really sound like poetry. They are the same in that you still get the basic gist of the speech but there is this poem that emerges. They are such strong speeches to begin with. I think that they hold up and they change, but they still have their elegance. That doesn’t really feel like the right use for this idea, so I was able to write a computer program that would automate it and that allowed me to go through these bigger texts. This cycle has been so absurd and there have been so many of them so it’s kind of like what happened?


So you see a huge difference in how politicians have structured these things over time.

Right. The second piece is a custom karaoke which uses songs that presidential candidates have gotten cease and desist letters from. So for instance, Trump is not allowed to use Rolling Stones songs anymore. So this cd has all the songs that candidates have used, for example, Sarah Palin can’t use Barracuda.


Why is that?

Just because they used them without getting permission from the artist. And actually they are all GOP candidates, the democratic candidates have never had this happen to them. So I have these sort of halloween masks of all the candidates and the idea is that you would wear one of the masks while karaoking to whatever the song is. It is more of the idea for me rather than whether or not it will be used. It will be interesting to see what happens. It’s like an installation that can be participatory, but it doesn’t matter to me if people do it. It will be ridiculous if it happens.

The third piece is footage from one of the democratic debates between Bernie and Hillary. It was one of the last ones and they were just screaming over each other, you know, not being able to get a word in. Wolf Blitzer stopped them and said, “If you keep screaming at each other the voters won’t be able to hear what you’re saying.” I went through that debate footage and removed all of the speaking so it’s just the pauses and the applause when they are trying to catch their breath. There are two monitors so one includes applause for Bernie as he is pausing and one is for Hillary when she is pausing and breathing. That footage moves back and forth between the two so they are in sync and in conversation with one another.


Tell me about your childhood experiences with art if any, or in your case, maybe experiences with community or history?

In terms of art, I was fortunate to have an aunt who was a professional artist, so I spent a lot of time with her, going to museums and talking to other working artists. I knew from an early age that that was I wanted to do. It has totally changed since then though. I went to school for painting but I haven’t made a painting in probably 10 years. The work has gotten more conceptual as time has gone on. When I was growing up we spent every vacation driving around the U.S. and stopping at historic sites. I’ve been to a dozen presidential homes. Every Civil War battlefield we drove past, we stopped at. I think that was just the way my parents thought about killing time and entertaining us, but also making sure we understood the history of this place. I think I have gotten more critical of what is represented in those sites, and I think my parents have become more critical. From that I got interested in fleshing out the more complicated things and understanding what is left out of that story.


Do you think they became more critical because of your work?

I don’t know about that. I think they became more critical just with what is happening. It’s hard not to be critical. I think there is definitely a nerd factor in the work. It is what I’m interested in learning about and that’s why I make what I make. I was joking with a curator that I think the audience for my work is school children and retired men who are interested in railroads. It’s not particularly trendy work.


You said in your statement that you are “interested in a poetic and quiet activism”- What comes of this as opposed to the more stereotypical forms of activism? Is there something to be said of subtlety vs aggression?

I have an activist practice outside of my work; I’m very involved in my community. I’m not a very outgoing person, I’m not a very loud person, so I try to think about other ways to have an effect on the world and I think education is one of those. Things like opening up space for people to learn about things, that can be liberatory. So if we know the story we can decide how to move within it. I think the idea of history being written by the victor is flawed. How can the people who have been negatively impacted by that history, or don’t feel like that history speaks to them take on a revisionist tactic? If you are already aware of that stuff then what do you do? So it’s hard to know the effect of the work and maybe that’s why I say it’s more quiet. I guess it’s more propositional. I also think that participatory art in itself is an activist practice because art can be very exclusionary and elitist, and so if we get the audience actually think that they have some power over the work and can participate in the work then I think we can have more people who feel that they can have creative practices.


Do you find more power in one or the other?

Well they are just different. I was recently volunteering for a progressive political campaign and it’s not what I want to do – I do it – but that also feels very preachy. It’s like you’re trying to tell people what is best for them and in my work I don’t want to do that. I want to create some space for people to think about other possibilities.      


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History Repeats Itself by Katie Hargrave

Hargrave--Donald Trump

Last year Katie Hargrave was named “Best in Show,” for her artwork in our National Exhibition, “Mark,” juried by Adrienne Outlaw. Join us Saturday, September 3rd between 6-9pm, during the Arts & Music @ Wedgewood Houston and the Downtown Art Crawls, to view her prized solo exhibition of most recent work inspired by the happenings in our political landscape.


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Universal Spaces

Join us for the artist’s reception this Saturday, June 18th between 6-9pm for Jovanni Luna‘s solo exhibition “Universal Spaces.” In the meantime, catch the write up and interview Sibley Barlow did with him:

Luna's paintcans

Jovanni Luna is showing new work at Ground Floor Gallery. His solo show, Universal Spaces, includes sculptural paintings exploring the idea of memory. The opening reception will take place this Saturday, June 18th, from 6­-9pm. I stopped by Jovanni’s studio to talk about his work. It was more like stepping into a painting rather than an artist’s studio, as his paintskins had taken over the walls. Below is a slightly condensed version of our conversation.

Sibley Barlow: So this is new work, but it’s a continuation of what you have been doing for a while. What is new about what you are doing?

Jovanni Luna: The rolls themselves I’ve spent about two years making, experimenting with them, seeing what I can accomplish with the rolls on the shelves. The new thing right now is that I’ve been thinking about color. I mentioned before I was very much just about process, so color really was just whatever I had, because it’s all donated house paint. So whatever I had
was what I used. Whenever I would make my paint skins, it
didn’t really matter to me what colors I was using. But I’ve been
focusing a lot on color now with the paint skins, thinking okay,
what colors will I be using first and last. Everything else will be in
the middle so from time to time you will be able to see it from the
top maybe, if it’s thick enough. For the most part it’s that first
layer I apply and the last that you are going to be able to see on
the roll itself. So since I’ve been thinking more about color I’ve
been painting the shelves, and trying to keep sort of
monochromatic theme and tying that into a conceptual narrative
overall. With the show, Universal Spaces, I’ve been thinking
about moments in our lives, when we kind of know they are
about to end. During that time we start grabbing and trying to
retain every bit of information that we can, knowing very well
that it’s going to end soon. So you’re trying to remember the scent, the sounds, every single texture around you that makes up the space. Even though, as soon as that moment is over it’s starts becoming abstract; you’re not going to remember it all. And as time goes on you’ll remember even less and it just keeps becoming more abstract.

SB: Yeah I was actually going to ask you about that. I read that you had talked about memories in relation to your work and process. Are you kind of pulling out your own memories and interacting with them, or are you visually representing memory as an idea?

JL:They’re my own memories. But I pick ones that seem a little more general, that more people might have experienced as well. So for this one in the studio here I was thinking of a sunset and that experience of watching one and knowing you’re seeing the sun go down and it’s soon to be over. And that moment, whether you’re by yourself or with someone else watching that sunset, you are trying to retain everything ­ what is going on, your emotions, whatever you are thinking, the actual physical space. Even though, most likely, after the sun goes down, you won’t really remember that sunset. Most likely, you’ll probably create a new memory based on what you know about sunsets, whether it’s images you’ve seen online, or movies or previous sunsets that you’ve already seen. All that is what you’re going to use to create this memory that isn’t actually the one you just experienced!

SB: That idea makes a lot of sense with the fact of your process being the most important part of the piece. That’s the same issue you have with not being able to remember things, you have time going by, the process of that, it’s not a condensed thing.

JL: Yeah. Even the materiality of it fits well with this, layers of memory, layers of time, the fact that all this paint is donated. So the paint itself has memories attached to it. A lot of these cans that people donate have labels, like this one­ “master bedroom” so even the paint itself has a bunch of memories attached to it.

SB: How do you go about getting all this paint?

JL: The majority of this, this time around has been through craigslist, I just made a post asking for paint. but the way it started was by me writing up a letter in grad school, explaining who I was as an artist, what I do, the material I was using and why I was using it. I would go through random neighborhoods and then just drop off letters essentially just asking if the had any leftover paint just stored in their garage or under their sinks that they didn’t want and they would leave it out on their driveway and I would pick it up the following weekend. And that worked really well, like the very first time I did it I wasn’t sure if it was even going to work, and then I got 20 gallons out of not even a full block of houses that received the letters. And sure, they’re not even full, and some of it is even bad, it’s not even good paint. But at the same time I have continued to use the used house paint as an idea of recycling as well. So even if its paint thats gone bad I’m okay with taking it because I will just dispose of it properly. Whereas people, even if they know how to, it’s a hassle to properly throw it out so they just keep it stored in their homes and at some point they will just throw it away which is bad for the environment. So this way, I feel good about using the donated house paint and house paint in general.

SB: So is this kind of where the idea of memory came from? Seeing the old plans that people had for the paint, or was that already a thing for you?

JL: No I think the memory thing at least for this show, started with just this last year I’ve been in Nashville. I’ve only been here a year. It is very much this transitional period of being done with school for good. It’s the first time I haven’t been in school. Just figuring all that out, how to have a full time job, while maintaining a studio practice. Whilst maintaining a social life! So in this one year there has been a lot I’ve needed to figure out. And deciding to move to a place where I didn’t know anyone was an added challenge. So the idea of the memories was based on the experiences that I’ve had within this last year living in Nashville. But I wanted these ideas to be general and be able to reflect on anyone.

SB: How did you come to the paint roll? Was that an accident?

JL: No that actually was based on procrastination. Throughout the first year of grad school it was just experimenting with the paintskin material. I would drape it, make huge sheets and peel it all into one big piece. I would stretch them over other things, I was doing some rolling but it was larger pieces. I was still thinking of it as this repetitive action of rolling. During this period was working on all these large projects that I believed to be the right direction but then I would get tired of it. While in my studio I would find scraps of the skins on the ground and I would start rolling them up. This was a way to procrastinate from what it was I believed was my “actual” projects. So I would spend a half hour, at least, rolling up the paintskin very carefully. I would carefully cut the end and carve into them, so I was doing this to take up time and relax and after a while it stopped being procrastination and became a way to take a break from the other experiments that I was doing. I just slowly kept adding to them, and the more I had the more people kept wanting to talk about them. They would see them in the corner of my studio and be intrigued and want to know more about them. Every time I would just say no that’s just for me, that’s not my real work and ignore the question and steer them back to the real work I was trying to make. That summer between the first year and second, I was thinking of what I wanted to do for my thesis show. I knew I wanted to do something big and very challenging. I wanted to do something that was going to take the entire year to make. After reflecting on the critiques from that first year I remembered all the comments about those small rolls and said okay, I’m going to make 10,000 of these rolls. I came to that number based on how many I had already made. I was trying to find that perfect number of how many I could possibly make in a year. By no means did I want to hit the number halfway through. I wanted to be crunching to the last possible minute.

SB: Let alone, just the act of counting out 10,000 pieces of something had to be a bit of a challenge.

JL: It was! Once I knew I was getting close to it I became smart about the counting. I was storing them in paint cans and I would write the number of them on the can and put it away. I was counting two or three hundred and then counting them from there. I think right now I would say I’m around 15,000. All the ones in this show are new, ones I’ve made recently.

SB: Do you feel that this is something you are going to continue to do for a while, the rolls? Or will they evolve from themselves?

JL: The rolls will forever be made. I don’t think I will ever stop making these rolls. I know I have a lot of other projects I want to do that don’t involve the rolls and I think that is most likely what will happen in the future. I will start to develop other projects, and still deal the house paint, paintskins. The rolls themselves, right now I’m still at the beginning stage. I still wonder what all I can make with these. I know even when I stop making these sculptural paintings and start working on the other paintskin projects I’ll still be doing these. It may go back to me creating these as a way to procrastinate. That’s still way into the future, I still have a lot of ideas of what to do with the rolls themselves.

SB: That’s a really exciting place to be, to have so much potential.

JL: Yes. For example, I’ve been photographing these individually, as if they were people, so they are portraits in a way. I don’t want to document them all, I don’t see a reason for me to do so. But I do want to document the majority of them and just have another full collection of all these rolls

SB: That’s really interesting because there is no way you would ever be able to repeat one.

JL: Right. And when I’m making them or just looking at them on their own I do think of them as characters or individual people because of that, because they’re all unique. As hard as I try there will never be two identical ones.

Luna's Studio Photo

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“How to Love Living Things” by Meg Stein

How To Love Living Things
Solo Exhibition by Meg Stein
Opens Friday, May 20th, 6-9pm
Runs May 1-June 4
Show title borrowed from the poem “A Child Without Arms Running Through a Field (Wyoming)” by Rachel McKibbens, published in her book Into the Dark & Emptying Field.
No Shame in Wanting-largeNo Shame in Wanting, 18” x 26” x 10”, 2016, erasers, nylon stockings, cosmetic wedges, no-slip rug mat, diapers, women’s slip, pillow stuffing, ear plugs, sewing pins, hair curlers, egg whiskers
Through repetitious processes that reference “women’s work,” I transform implements of domesticity into startling, otherworldly forms. These biomorphic sculptures oscillate between dream and nightmare, mimicking known life—such as sea life and reproductive organs—while remaining alien.
My sculptures transform everyday detritus—loaded with social assumptions about gender and class roles—into bursting, unknown life, complete with ambiguous new gender classifications and power hierarchies that are full of potential. Unsettling interrogations of feminine stereotypes, they collapse the space between comfort and threat.
Pillowcases, sheer stockings and bath loofahs become bulbous appendages, glistening orifices and billowing innards. Bath mats that once kept human feet dry are re-imagined as vital tentacles used for collecting food.
My work is inspired by an absurd, futuristic vision: Imagine that you leave your household items in the woods with a group of women for five million years and, through their simple labor, the women evolve these items into evocative, feminine oddities, a marriage of wild and domestic.
Propelled by this vision, I dissect and reconstruct household accoutrements into fantastic and psychological sculptural organisms. My work anticipates a sensual, soft-edged world, punctuated by a ‘post-metamorphosis’ of gender roles.
—Meg Stein, 2016
Meg Stein is a sculptor, animator and installation artist from Durham, NC. Most recently her work has been exhibited in Portland (OR), South Carolina, Louisiana, North Carolina, Atlanta, Brooklyn, and Philadelphia. In 2016 she was in residence at Yaddo in Saratoga Springs, NY. She has been an Artist-in-Residence at the Atlantic Center for the Arts in New Smyrna Beach, FL (2014), at “Wetland” by Mary Mattingly in Philadelphia’s FringeArts (2014), a Regional Emerging Artist-in-Residence at Artspace in Raleigh, NC (2014), a resident artist at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts in Amherst, VA (2015) and an Artist-in-Residence at the Indie Grits Film Festival in Columbia, SC (2015).  She was a participant in New York Arts Practicum in 2014, working with Simone Leigh. In 2012 she won the David A. Dowdy Jr. Award for Sculpture, was nominated for the International Sculpture Center’s Outstanding Student Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award (2014), won a merit scholarship for the Ox-Bow School of Art in Saugatuck, MI (2014) and won 3rd place in the National Compact Competition at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, LA (2015). She earned her MFA in Studio Art from UNC Chapel Hill in 2014. More information is available at You can contact her at
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“The Touch Room” Opening April 15th 6-9pm

Be “in touch” and visit Friday, April 15th, 6-9pm, for Danielle McCleave’s solo exhibition.

Read the conversation between her and Sibley Barlow, our writer-in-residence about the show.

Danielle McCleave is a young artist wrapping up her final moments with Belmont College of Visual Arts. Her current installation work explores themes of personal space, intimacy, and human interaction. In her upcoming show, viewers will no longer be viewers, but agents of an event. Danielle is setting up a space for us to engage with one another in a way that reaches beyond our everyday interaction. Below is a slightly condensed interview with the artist discussing her thesis exhibition at Ground Floor Gallery.


S: Well first of all, let’s hear about your piece. Can you explain how the idea originated?


D: My piece is basically a commentary on touch, and the personal space bubble of humans in our society. About two semesters ago I studied abroad in Italy, the fall semester of my junior year. I just really realized how small their personal space bubble is there, compared to ours here in America – which is really interesting to me. I was walking down the streets, and first of all, the sidewalks are really small there anyway, everything is small there, it’s just a tiny place. And you’re on this small sidewalk and people are just passing by you like “School’s out, school’s out!” and they bump you and touch you and they greet you with a kiss. And there’s not really a concept of a line, but it doesn’t bother anyone. Everyone kind of just touches each other and they will talk to you up close; that is their space. It’s just a different in comparison to America. We’re very distant to the point of being sterile, and I think that is hindering us a little bit especially in childcare. I nanny a lot, and so that’s where a lot of my ideas come from. Kids in America, like in a kindergarten class, if a one of them falls over I can’t kiss his boo boo because it’s “gross.” But of course, I mean, it’s a child. But the precautions and the ideas have been perverted in our society. At a baseline it’s become a little too sterile, in my opinion. I at least wanted people to realize how different it is from other places in the world. So with my piece I want to, kind of, break that bubble, in a fun and interactive way. And I like my work to be very open, I never want it to feel cut off. For example, one of the things I absolutely love is touching art. I like my art to be touched, even if at some point in the future it will physically destroy my art I think it would have been for the benefit, because at least it was able to be interacted with.


S: Did this idea hit you while in Italy experiencing that?


D: No. I just woke up one morning, like 6 in the morning and sketched this out in my sketchbook, went back to sleep, and never thought about it again until I was told that I needed to get a start on this thesis. So I just went back and worked off of that. My very first project was to have a very dark room that would have finger-like extensions or little things that would touch you and it could give the sensation of gently being touched or caressed. That evolved into this piece with the hanging balls because I wanted each finger or extension to light up as if it were your neurons lighting up when you touched them, you know, and so that’s what that turned into. I made this sort of hallway and so you can see people going through it, walking through it, but also be a part of it in the same way. The other part is a wall with thermochromatic paint so you can see your handprint, your touch on a surface, to make it sort of physical – that which normally can’t be seen. The way you touch someone and what that feels like. As if every time you touched someone, it left a handprint on their body. So I made a wall and two platforms on the ground so if you were to take off your shoes and walk on it you could see your footprints. The fourth piece is basically a giant touch lamp and it’s sort of a closet/hallway, but it’s open, and metal on all four sides. Viewers will walk inside of it but everytime you touch a side, the light will go on and off, so you can squeeze by a bunch of people in a crowd and the light will on and off.


S: And it’s going to force people to also touch each other?


D: Yes, that’s the goal. I also have another piece that is a performance piece which I am actually shooting today, and that will just show basically the same concept of visualizing our touch on people around us – using color. Each person will have a particular color and when you touch someone they get a little bit of that color, you know? That will be projected on the wall.


S: Well I’m pretty excited to see this become a reality.


D: It’s exciting but terrifying, like anything else in art. I’ve been working on this for over a year now, so we’ll see.


S: So around this time last year you started on it?


D: Yeah, I’d say so. Maybe a little earlier. I’ve been forming this piece and trying to kind bring it to life. I always feel a kinship to God in art, in that we are able to create the way God has created so we get that same experience. Artists have that same job that God fulfills. (Laughs) It is true though. It is that gift to create and make things that are brand new which is cool you know?


S: Do you find that there is spirituality in your work? Not necessarily religion but that essence of a bigger presence?


D: Yeah, I try to definitely try to have some sort of spirituality. I have a sense of at least some form of spirituality in there, partially because I do identify as Christian. I usually try to get a lot of my motivation from the religious environment. I’m a little bit of a liberal christian so I turn to nature often. I really listen to the environment and everything that surrounds me. I feel like just that spirit, listening to the world happening around us and trying to wake people up to it and draw their attention to it is what comes out in my art. At least what I want to bring out. Opening eyes to the every day of what’s around us.


S: What was your childhood experience with art like? When did you know you wanted to be an artist?


D: I was always doodling and painting. But my dad is an engineer, my mom is a teacher. My mom was always very open to it and encouraged it in me. My dad as well, but he took it more to the engineering direction. I just knew I always liked painting but I never thought of it as a career until maybe high school when I took architecture. That was more because I was thinking of the financial security of it. But when I took the class I realized how much I hate sitting there drawing straight lines. It just got really boring. My senior year I ended up winning some drawing competitions, and that encouraged me. But it was something I just had to figure out that I wanted over time and just sort of forget everything else, dive in, and make it happen.


S: Is there a part of you that is still interested in architecture? You’re pretty focused on installation work, and this piece in particular is pretty architectural.


D: No, well maybe.


S: Because you are obviously focused on people, but does the space they inhabit have significance as well?


D: I find fascination in architecture and the beauty of it. But I don’t think I would ever want to be the person behind it, designing it. I do love it on a small scale, with the installation work. I don’t have set media for my art, I just start with an idea, and then I need a way to explain it. So I pick media that suits it from that point. Sometimes it’s painting, sometimes it’s photography, sometimes it’s an installation. My concentration is on the idea. Which I also find very freeing, I don’t have to be stuck behind the stigma of, say, a photographer. That works for some people, but I’m just going to do it all, and everyone will have to be okay with it.


S: So you’re from Orlando, and you lived there for quite a while I’m assuming?


D: I lived there for the first part of my life, and then I moved to Dallas TX. Always lived in the city, always been around people. Nashville is the smallest city I’ve ever lived in. I work downtown, I love the energy of the city and being around a crowd but at the same time open space and nature. Which is interesting because that’s not what I was brought up in.


S: So what sort of influence do you think that has had on your art – being around that community?


D: I think it does have a lot to do with it. Being around that many people of different cultures and the realities of that. I never knew a stranger growing up with my mom, because that’s just how she is, everyone on the street is a friend. We would pick up random people off the street often and give them rides. I would be a two year old in the car seat next to them saying hello. You talk to everyone, everyone is family. Of course be safe, be cautious, but never assume a person is a stranger to you. I try to show that in my art or at least use it.


S: Use it as a way to connect people and get them back to that point?


D: Yeah definitely. In cities it can be very isolating and very lonely yet at the same time you are surrounded by so many people. But it doesn’t have to be that way, which is interesting. So I try to go the opposite direction, you can either embrace everyone and deal with all that energy, or let yourself be isolated. And I obviously do need that space at times to be by myself, but I get energy from people.


S: So simultaneously being alone while being amongst everyone else – that is a very interesting thing to think about. It’s very human, I think everyone finds comfort in that dynamic.


D: Yeah, it’s a really great paradox.

S: What are you going to do after this? As far as your show goes, do you feel like this will be resolved by the time you’re done with it, or is there more to explore?


D: As of now I feel it’s resolved. Partly because I’ve been working on it for a year now and it’s time to leave it alone. It is also an “assignment” as well so part of me, the rebel in me, wants to reject it for that reason. I do want to explore it more and figure out how to complete it in the way I originally visualized it. Like with any art piece, I go through so many modifications, so many trials and errors, nothing is how it was when I first thought of it. And so it is also wonderful, going through that process. Finding those issues and resolving them, and figuring out that it’s not actually resolved, redoing it, going back over everything, completely erasing it, crying (Laughs). So that process is so important, and I think it’s a really important part of my work to talk about. There are so many pieces out there in the world that have been through so much trauma in order to get out into the world, and I love that. So I think I can still go deeper into it, but not right off. I may do something else for a little while and come back to the idea at a different time, reassess, see if I even still believe in it.



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Danielle McCleave’s “The Touch Room”

A gallery is so often a “hands off” space, but for Danielle McCleave’s “The Touch Room,” people are encouraged to interact with the artwork and each other. The culture in the U.S. in particular isn’t used to physical contact, and “The Touch Room” is built to counteract the sterility of social interaction we experience in the USA and in a gallery.

See what Danielle has to say:

“Above all, we must cherish the relationship between one human to another, and specifically the instances of physical touch. Our culture has become so cripplingly sterile and so cautious that we emphatically discourage touching each other, and encourage distancing ourselves from one another.

Humans need each other and physical interaction to survive not only mentally, but also physically. Studies have shown that a simple touch from one human to another releases endorphins and lowers blood pressure.unnamed-2

While I was abroad in Europe, I noticed how different their culture is from ours, and how distant Americans are from each other. The cultures I encountered encouraged touch; habitually, everyone is greeted with a kiss, and people even stand closer to each other in public places. The “personal space bubble” that America puts so much emphasis on is not as present in their culture, and they greatly benefit from this.


That’s why I wanted to create a space that would allow a sense of comfort to happen within the interactions with strangers. With “The Touch Room,” I’m wanting to pop that “bubble” by encouraging human-to-human touch, and the sensation of physical contact to promote comfort in relationships with people.


I was born in Orlando Florida, and then moved on to Dallas, Texas before coming to Nashville to study art. I have always been fascinated with the tendencies of humans and the similarities and differences between cultures. Growing up in such different, major metropolitan cities allowed me to experience both proclivities–to touch and avoid touch–and I became comfortable with strangers and large amounts of people at a young age. I continue learning about the world and the people we all share it with through my participatory artwork and projects.”

When was the last time you touched another human being? Come see and touch at Ground Floor Gallery + Studios for the opening reception of “The Touch Room” on April 15th from 6-9PM.

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With a new year, comes a new round of shows, starting with Resurface by Amanda Joy Brown, opening tonight, February 6th from 6-9pm. Please join us during the artist’s reception! Mandy has been developing this new series in her studio here at Ground Floor for 3+ years and it’s absolutely amazing to see the breadth she’s created with her paint skins.

Looking back, Ground Floor Gallery + Studios wants to thank everyone who has participated in and supported our gallery and studio collective. 2015 was a stellar year, it brought new studio artists, new interns, and some truly fantastic shows by very talented artists. Bobby Becker, Jovanni Luna, Kanchan Richardson, and Celeste Jones all joined the Ground Floor Family, but we had to also say good-bye to Heidi Martin Kuster, Marion Cox, and Evelyn Walker who played important roles while with us.

In review of our 2015 shows:

Andee Rudolf and our participatory mural

Evelyn Walker curated Dispatches from the Borderlands with works by Jeremy Entwistle and Barbara Schreiberwebsite

System Politics by Morgan Higby Flowers 

Taking Things Apart by David Willburn

Desiré HoughRotting Piñata

Bricolage: A Gallery Presentation of GfG’s Artists and Open Studios

Shana Kohnstamm curated Touched.

4th annual juried show, Mark, curated by Adrienne Outlaw, included

Rounding out the year with Exurban a large scale installation by Jason Sheridan Brown and Leticia Bajuyo.

Stay tuned…more solo, small group and juried exhibitions coming in 2016!

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