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Photo by Nicole Royse

"Hannah Barco: Fathomings" Opens at ASU Art Museum

Written by Nicole Royse Category: Visual Arts Issue: February 2017
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Chicago multimedia artist Hannah Barco has been busy creating an intriguing new installation, titled “Fathomings,” during her one-month residency at the Arizona State University Art Museum. Last night, she debuted her new exhibit at a special preview and PHOENIX checked it out.

Water feature element in "Fathomings." Photo by Nicole Royse.Barco seamlessly blends her many hats – image-maker, performance artist, sculptor, writer – in her art. Traditionally trained in the visual and performance arts, receiving her bachelor’s from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts and her Master of Fine Arts in Performance from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her artwork and practices revolve around her “Fluxus sense of humor and poetry, a Surrealist obsession with the uncanny, and stands firmly within the Feminist legacy that the personal is political,” she says in her artist statement (capitalization her own).

Barco began her residency at ASU earlier this year, conducting research for her project, working with a variety of students, faculty and community members from around campus. Her project posed challenging questions, such as: “How [can we] work to make our physical, political and social realities more legible and coherent? and “How do we proceed with competency and aplomb in a world we can’t fully fathom?”

Barco also collaborated with the artist-led group projectWALK (part of the Museum of Walking), which seeks to “investigate the everyday activity of walking in one of the least walkable cities in the United States” and assisted the artist with aspects of the creation and assembly of the installation. "Fathomings" photos. By Nicole Royse.

Her response to all this research and interviewing was to create an installation with dynamic sculptural forms as an expression of what she calls “a landscape through intellectual exchange and sculptural production.” The end result: a tiled countertop resembling an aerial view of the earth, a patchwork of greens, browns, and blues reflecting upon the dynamic and vast landscape that comprises the United States as seen from an orderly and safe distance. It asks, as noted in the instillation description, "How many ways can we find our footing in this murky landscape?"

Hannah Barco countertop reflecting land, as seen from above. Photo by Nicole Royse.The centerpiece is a large countertop complete with water feature reminiscent of a river flowing, while photographs of the artist at work creating the countertop are displayed on the walls giving patrons a further look at her creative process (see photos above). Flanked on both ends of the countertops is simple kitchen cabinetry with barren shelves open to the viewer except for an eerie miniature slide and maze, perhaps commenting on our disillusioned society.

When she returns to Arizona in the spring, Barco will host a participatory performance, where the artist will disassemble the installation and patrons and invited to watch and ask questions.

"Hannah Barco: Fathomings" will be on display through April 15, 2017 at the ASU Art Museum, located at 51 E. 10th Street, Tempe. For more information about the ASU Art Museum visit asuartmuseum.asu.edu/exhibitions, or for more on the artist find her portfolio online at wearestillmaking.com.