SPECULATIVE RETRIEVALS | May 1 - July 28, 2019
KRISTA FRANKLIN | JULIA GOODMAN | SAHAR KHOURY
The impetus for Speculative Retrievals: Krista Franklin, Julia Goodman, and Sahar Khoury was a desire to organize an exhibition around several works created in connection with SAC Paperworks to coincide with the 2019 annual meeting of the Print Council of America in Lawrence, Kansas. Founded in 2015, SAC Paperworks is the Salina Art Center’s community-based hand papermaking initiative.
In the spring of 2016 Bay Area artist Julia Goodman was a papermaker-in-residence at the Warehouse, the Art Center’s live/work space for artists-in-residence. During her time in Salina, Goodman created several works for her Thin Lines series, two of which are included in the present exhibition. While in residence, she collaborated with Crestwood, Inc., a Salina-based manufacturer of custom cabinetry, to inscribe a design on two four-by-eight feet sheets of plywood using a CNC router. The design is based on one of the complete bipartite graphs reproduced in Ars Magna Sciendi sive Combinatoria (The Great Art of Knowledge, or the Combinatorial Art), a 1669 volume by the seventeenth-century German Jesuit polymath Athanasius Kircher (1601/02‒1680). Goodman then cast her pulp using the inscribed plywood to reproduce Kircher’s diagram in low relief.
Goodman’s 200 Year Present (2017), a large-scale, sculptural paperwork commissioned by the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco, is the exhibition’s conceptual linchpin. In the making of this work, Goodman repurposed the plywood matrix and Kircher’s design, applying the technical advances realized during her Art Center residency. 200 Year Present gives form to American sociologist and peace activist Elise Boulding’s (1920‒2010) notion of the 200-year Present. Boulding believed the present was a “continuously moving moment” and advocated for an expanded time perspective, particularly when decisions with global implications are at stake. Bounded by a hundred years in each direction, past and future, Boulding’s 200-year Present encompasses those born a hundred years ago and living today, as well as those born today who will be alive in a hundred years.
An expanded sense of the present is inherent in the art of Krista Franklin, Julia Goodman, and Sahar Khoury. Central to the work of these three artists is the reconstitution and transformation of materials, ideas, and histories. Franklin’s Afrofuturist collages, Goodman’s handmade paper sculptures, and Khoury’s reenchanted constructions inspire wonder and invite us to reimagine the future from Boulding’s expanded time perspective. At a moment when stakes—cultural, ecological, economic, political, and social—are perilously high, the wisdom of these artists’ elastic view of the present is a welcome tonic.
Ohio native Krista Franklin is a Chicago-based poet, visual artist, storyteller, and teacher. Born two months before the Ohio National Guard shootings at Kent State University, her undergraduate alma mater, Franklin was raised in suburban Dayton, Ohio. In 2001 she left Ohio, relocating to Chicago, where she earned an MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts – Book & Paper from Columbia College Chicago.
Franklin’s work is an expression of Afrofuturism, a cultural aesthetic that draws on the experiences of the African Diaspora, history, science fiction, and techno-utopian thought to reimagine Black life in the United States and visualize the future. Her practice includes collage, hand papermaking, installation, letterpress, performance, and poetry. Among her sources of inspiration are the science fiction novels of Octavia Butler and the music of American jazz composer Sun Ra.
For over a decade, Bay Area artist Julia Goodman has explored the hand papermaking process and its potential for effecting transformation and healing. Conceptually, Goodman’s practice is a reimagining of the ancient Judaic bereavement custom k’riah, the mourning ritual of making a tear in one’s outer garment before the burial of a family member. At the conclusion of the mourning period, the tear is mended, resulting in healing and scarring, real and symbolic.
Discarded bedsheets and T-shirts, gathered mostly from friends and family, provide the raw material for Goodman’s work. Embedded within these materials are the memories and stories of those whose skin they once touched. Goodman begins by tearing fabric into small pieces before processing with her Hollander beater to make the pulp from which she forms her paper. Through this process of reconstitution, Goodman creates new colors, forms, stories, and meanings.
Oakland-based artist Sahar Khoury combines cast-off, unremarkable materials and low tech methods to create sculptures and installations that seem at once improvisational and preordained. Conjured from the flotsam and jetsam of everyday life, domestic and industrial, Khoury’s constructions are an uncanny mix of measured whimsy and solemnity.
Khoury holds a BA in anthropology from the University of California, Santa Barbara and an MFA from the University of California, Berkeley. From 2002 to 2015, she worked as an ethnographer at the Cesar Chavez Institute, San Francisco State University, where she researched the structural vulnerability of undocumented Latino day laborers in the Bay Area.
Khoury is one of three finalists for the 2019 Society of Encouragement of Contemporary Art’s prestigious SECA Award, a biennial honor organized by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.