Jimmy Kuehnle: Wiggle, Giggle, Jiggle
Written by Akron Art Museum Staff
On view through February 19, 2017 at the Akron Art Museum
Art doesn’t have to be serious or austere. One look at Jimmy Kuehnle’s work makes that point abundantly clear. Kuehnle’s sculptures consist of oversized, colorful architectural and organic forms. The work has a sense of wonder and play that attracts audiences of all ages. Humor and play are key components of Kuehnle’s work, which he creates to respond specifically to the spaces they inhabit. Some of his sculptural works consist of immense inflatable suits with bulky, colorful appendages and architectural structures that the artist wears in open spaces, engaging with passersby, bumping into objects and buildings as he goes. Other sculptures, such as this one, activate and even gently mock architectural space by cramming bright, flexible shapes of inflated fabric into every nook and cranny.
“I try to find the line between the spectacle and the absurd. If I can make something that you can’t quite put into a category, well maybe you’re going to think, maybe there’s going to be a short circuit and then a genuine interaction with you can occur,” says Kuehnle.
Kuehnle, who teaches at the Cleveland Institute of Art, has had solo shows at museums, galleries and universities in the United States and internationally. His recent exhibition at the Hudson River Museum in New York was reviewed in the New York Times. In 2014, he was selected for the national survey exhibition State of the Art: Discovering American Art Now at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. As a Fulbright Graduate Research Fellow in Japan, 2008, he pursued his interest in public art and sculpture. In 2016, Kuehnle received a Creative Workforce Fellowship, a program of the Community Partnership for Arts and Culture.
Jimmy Kuehnle: Wiggle, Giggle, Jiggle is organized by the Akron Art Museum and supported by a generous gift from The Mary S. and David C. Corbin Foundation. Additional support provided by Brouse McDowell, LPA and the Ohio Arts Council.
Upcoming Programs with Jimmy Kuehnle
Gallery Talk: Jimmy Kuehnle
Thursday, December 15 • 6:30 pm • Free
Meet artist Jimmy Kuehnle, learn about his creative process and how he came to create his trademark inflatable sculptures.
Three new works were created onsite for Intersections. Judy Pfaff readily marries 2D and 3D elements in Turtle. Her immersive installation is titled after a myth that describes the world as flat and resting on the shell of a giant turtle. An array of disparate materials, including expanded foam, digitally-manipulated photographs, lead orbs cast from cannonball molds and elegant glass teardrops are suspended from a steel “space grid” welded in the artist’s studio. Tree root systems, fiberglass and tape create linear patterns while the abundant disks covered with distorted images reflect Pfaff’s wide range of interests and references.
Anne Lindberg suspended nearly nineteen miles of Egyptian cotton thread across a gallery for inside green. The artist, who views her work “first and foremost as drawings, albeit volumetric,” used fifteen colors of thread to create her shimmering composition. Following a visit to Akron, she selected the blue, yellow and green tones in response to the quality of light and white oak floors in the museum galleries. Three graphite and colored pencil drawings, with layered lines rendered using a parallel bar, were conceived in tandem with inside green. Their horizontal lines offer a rush of energy, creating an “overriding sense of a band of color.”
Nathalie Miebach’s Sibling Rivalry fills a wall with elements that are playful, yet address serious issues in its comparison of Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina. Blue cubes outlining the Mississippi River and Delta divide her composition. Below are images of amusement park rides destroyed by Sandy. Above, forms indicating New Orleans neighborhoods are placed alongside jumbled houses and collapsed levies. As with all of the artist’s work, data plays a central role in Sibling Rivalry. A large wheel records changes in wind velocity, rainfall and barometric pressure the night Katrina made landfall, and other storm statistics appear interspersed with narrative elements that convey the storm’s human stories.
Intersections: Artists Master Line and Space is organized by the Akron Art Museum and generously supported by the Lehner Family Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation and by the Ohio Arts Council. Special thanks to Hilton Garden Inn Akron.
Jimmy Kuehnle, Wiggle, Giggle, Jiggle 2016, polyester fabric, Akron ArtMuseum. Photography by Shane Wynn.
Nathalie Miebach, Sibling Rivalry 2016, reed, wood, rope, data. Photography by Joe Levack/Studio Akron.
Anne Lindberg, inside green 2016, Egyptian cotton thread, staples, Akron Art Museum. Photography by Joe Levack/Studio Akron.
Judy Pfaff, Turtle (installation view) courtesy of the artist and Pavel Zoubok Gallery, New York. Photography by Joe Levack/Studio Akron.
Intersections: Artists Master Line and Space showcases recent work by six sculptors whose engagement with paper is essential to their practice. Mark Fox, Anne Lindberg, Nathalie Miebach, John Newman, Judy Pfaff and Ursula von Rydingsvard undertake explorations with paper and in three dimensions that inform one another in a dynamic creative process.
Representing multiple generations and aesthetic perspectives, the artists in Intersections share a number of attributes. Most studied with or cite Minimalist artists—including Al Held, Donald Judd and Sol LeWitt—as models and mentors, yet each creates work that is crafted by hand in the studio or gallery. As well, they all embrace non-traditional materials, extending explorations by such groundbreaking artists working in the 1960s as Eva Hesse, Lee Bontecou and Jackie Winsor. Without exception, artists in Intersections consistently pursue new ways of realizing work, using methods that range from making hand-corrugated “cardboard,” to pulling cotton thread across large spans, combining unlikely materials, and pressing abaca paper into carved cedar. Sculptures on view are constructed using additive processes and, as with the works on paper, are at once abstract and metaphoric.