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Recent Work by Jennifer Pastor at Museum of Fine Art, Houston

Dead Landscape
Museum of Fine Art, Houston
Opens December 11, 2009

The Glassell School of Art’s Core Exhibition Program presents the most recent body of work by Los Angeles-based artist Jennifer Pastor. Opening on December 11 with a lecture and reception, the exhibition Dead Landscape is an installation of some 40 drawings and photographs that juxtaposes archival materials from wars involving the U.S. with Pastor’s drawings and photographs of culturally sanctioned, organized fights (from cage fighting and gladiator events to the Ultimate Fighting Heavy Weight Championship). Exhibited at Greengrassi in London earlier this year, the Houston showing will be the first presentation of Dead Landscape in the United States. An additional element to the exhibition—a large-scale sculpture titled Endless Arena and inspired by the same line of inquiry as the Dead Landscape installation—will be shown later this year across the street from the Glassell School, in the MFAH’s Caroline Wiess Law Building.

“Jennifer Pastor has been exhibiting her work at national and international venues since the early 1990s, including showings at the 2003 Venice Biennale and a 2004 solo show at the Whitney Museum of American Art,” said Glassell School of Art director Joseph Havel. “She has been working on Dead Landscape for several years, and the show at the Glassell School this winter will be the first time that this new body of work has been exhibited in the United States.”

“Jennifer Pastor has been a great inspiration to the current group of Core Fellows, and the exhibition and Pastor’s visit to Houston really originated from their efforts and interests,” said Mary Leclère, associate director of the Glassell Core Program and organizer of the Houston showing of Dead Landscape. “During a number of informal meetings, Pastor’s name kept coming up in conversations about research-based sculptural practices and the re-emergence of ‘the object’ in art. We decided that Pastor ought to be involved in the conversation, and are delighted that the artist will exhibit and lecture here in Houston.”

The project Dead Landscape emerged from Pastor’s research interviewing veteran combat artists from various campaigns, including World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Occupation of Iraq. During this time, Pastor also sought to find “on the spot” sketches of action during battle or (in the artist’s words) “first impressions . . . before the artist/soldier has had a chance to order his experience (although this type of drawing is quite rare).” To this end, Pastor gained access to archival drawings and photographs belonging to veteran combat artists, as well as collections belonging to the National Military Archives of the Navy, Army, and Marines in Quantico, VA and Washington, D.C. Many of the archived drawings had never been on view before, and Pastor photographed and drew the archived objects.

While researching soldier-artists’ portrayals of war, Pastor also began attending local and national organized fights, creating her own “on the spot” drawings and photographs documenting what she saw. Within the installation, the artist’s documentation of archival photographs and drawings are paired with the artist’s own “on the spot” drawing and photographs, creating interesting juxtapositions.

A sculpture, titled Endless Arena, also emerged from Pastor’s line of inquiry regarding impressions of war. Made of fiber enforced cement and approximately 15 feet long and 12 feet wide, Endless Arena is composed of a hexagonal fighting arena and bleachers (both hovering six inches off the ground), with large figurative drawings flanking each side of the hexagon. The work will be installed later this spring in Cullinan Hall (Caroline Wiess Law Building). The artist describes the sculpture as “an agitation of unfinished business [from Dead Landscape]. . . A bit of fantasy hybrid, constructed from some of the most peculiar situations, loose memories and perceptions, and the more ‘impossible’ drawings from those events.”

About the Core Exhibition Program

The Core Exhibition Program is comprised of three annual exhibitions. The first exhibition is curated in the fall by the associate director of the Glassell Core Program, Mary Leclere, and features work by a contemporary artist. In the winter, a critical studies resident proposes an exhibition of their own; and the program concludes in the spring, when the current Core residents exhibit their own work.

About Core

The highly competitive Core program awards one- and two-year residencies to visual artists and art scholars who have completed their undergraduate or graduate training but have not yet fully developed a professional career.

Core residents are given private studio space or an office, 24-hour access to school facilities and equipment, privileges at the museum’s Hirsch Library and the Fondren Library at nearby Rice University, and a $10,000 annual stipend.

Core Lecture Schedule

  • Artist Jennifer Pastor, 6 p.m. Friday, December 11, Freed Auditorium, Glassell
  • Curator Mark Godfrey, 7 p.m. Thursday, February 18, Freed Auditorium, Glassell
  • Artist Julie Mehretu, TBA, Brown Auditorium, MFAH
  • Making a Case: Two Curators on Contemporary Curatorial Practice, curators Lauri Firstenberg and Laura Hoptman, 2 p.m. Saturday, March 27, Freed Audiorium, Glassell
  • Critic Michael Ned Holte, 7 p.m. Thursday, April 15, Freed Auditorium, Glassell

The Glassell School of Art

The Glassell School of Art is the teaching wing of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Established in 1927, it was renamed in honor of Alfred C. Glassell, Jr., in 1979. The school has a reputation for outstanding training in the fine arts, and offers the nationally acclaimed Core Residency Program for postgraduate study as well as a wide variety of programs and classes for adults and children through its Studio School and Junior School. The Glassell Community Outreach Program serves more than 5,500 individuals, including hospitalized children, and hearing and visually impaired people.

The Glassell School of Art is located at 5101 Montrose Boulevard, and is open Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. – 10 p.m., and Friday through Sunday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Admission is free.

Upcoming Exhibitions at the MFAH

  • Your Bright Future: 12 Contemporary Artists from Korea November 21, 2009—February 14, 2010
  • Dead Landscape December 11, 2009—February, 2010
  • Eye on Third Ward: Jack Yates High School Photography February 7, 2010—May 23, 2010
  • Prendergast in Italy February 14—May 9, 2010
  • Sargent and the Sea February 14 – May 23, 2010
  • Houston’s Sargents February 14—May 9, 2010
  • Ruptures and Continuities: Photography Made After 1960 from the MFAH Collection February 21—May 9, 2010
  • 2010 Core Exhibition March 5—April 16, 2010 (Glassell School of Art)
  • Liquid Lines: Exploring the Language of Contemporary Metal March 7—July 18, 2010
  • Alice Neel: Painted Truths March 21 – June 13, 2010
  • Light of the Sufis: The Mystical Arts of Islam May 16—August 8, 2010
  • Charles M. Russell: The Masterworks in Oil and Bronze June 6 – August 29, 2010

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