Fifteen months of pure artistic freedom—that's the gift that gallerist Scott White gave to David Adey by offering him a shot at being Scott White Contemporary Art's first artist-in-residence. The meticulous work developed during the residency will be on view in Hither and Yon, a solo show opening from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 11, at the gallery (7655 Girard Ave., Suite 101, in La Jolla). A screening of a documentary detailing Adey's residency precedes the opening at 5 p.m. at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego's La Jolla location (700 Prospect St.).
"The residency has taken me in a lot of new, exciting directions," says Adey, an arts professor at Point Loma Nazarene University. "I was able to do a lot of experimentation . There were definitely some heroic failures, but that ultimately led to better work."
Adey produced a diverse body of conceptual art. His more recognizable "Pinned Skin" series of deconstructed celebrity and mass-media photos, carefully laser cut into individual body parts then pinned back together as beautiful new abstracted compositions, will be shown alongside creations like his towering sculpture made of found cylindrical objects that starts with a communion cup at the base and is topped with a large outdoor trashcan.
One of the stars of the show, Adey's large-scale "Hide" diptych, started as one of the biggest failed experiments of his residency. The artist always begins his process by dreaming up an often-complex concept that includes a set of constraints, which ultimately informs the construction and aesthetics of each piece. With "Hide," for example, Adey wanted to map the entire surface of a human body, then unfold and flatten the resulting shape in one whole piece without any overlaps.
He originally envisioned the spiral unpeeling of a clementine and thought he could coat his body in rubber and unravel himself in one piece by cutting very careful lines. Ultimately, though, he had to build a 3D scanner, scan his body and solve the puzzle digitally. The resulting human-like form is painstakingly pinned to paper that's been lightly airbrushed with florescent orange—a color that glows and reflects off the central image. The finished product is a unique and somewhat eerie self-portrait.
"I knew it had the potential to be really, really visually interesting," Adey says. "But it ended up looking completely different than what I originally thought."
Dale Schierholt's documentary about Adey, Art by Constraint, zooms in on the artist's unique method of navigating his self-imposed conceptual constraints and the resulting work.
"Resistance is essential," Adey says in the film. "Constraints can be really comforting. As an artist, it gives you something to push up against."
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