Ten Futures

Ten Futures finds its theme perched between the science fiction genre and the futures unfolding around us in real time. Through drawings, photographs, video, sculptures, short stories, and a video game, the artists in the exhibition daydream, fear for, and build their own imagined worlds.

Shohei Katayama and Bradley Weyandt examine the consequences of the materials we harvest and construct through their works. Katayama’s prophetic, heat reactant sculpture satirically speaks to the fragility of nature and our own relationship with it. Weyandt’s surreal work borrow the shapes and designs of industrial materials then renders them useless by subverting their makeup. These artists are chameleons and reflect what they see.

Everest Pipkin & Loren Schmidt let viewers into their environments by implementing one of the most used tropes associated with the sci-fi genre: they give their characters’ a quest. Their video game, Spiral House, turns inward by asking players to navigate the subconscious space and architecture of a crumbling dream. Paul Peng’s works pursue a more pictorial take on the quest by taking cues from experimental comics and furry cultures. His drawings render monster boys living their day-to-day lives in search for comfort in their own skin.

Summer Jade Leavitt, Adam Milner, and Maybe Jairan Sadeghi, also take their viewers on journeys but for different reasons. These three artists desperately travel through time to sync with a lover, save a dying planet, and build a home on the moon, brick by brick. Their artworks might be set in other places and times but their tales are love stories as much as they are fantasies.

Celeste Neuhaus and Centa Schumacher draw upon the sciences of the occult to create their image and sculpture based artworks. Neuhaus’s CANARY IN THE COAL MINE consists of seven structures that fluctuate between cauldrons, traps, and wombs. These works ensnare synthetic and natural materials that intertwine to question our relationship with symbols and signs on an alchemical level. Using her own experimental photography techniques, Schumacher’s lens-based work mashes up aesthetics of spirituality and religion.

The term science fiction can be defined simply be reversing the phrase: fiction based on science. As technology expands at an exponential rate, so does the imaginations of those using it. Issues of access, class, religion, race, gender, and sexuality become hardwired into the softwares and devices being made today. Are the scientists and designers of tomorrow creating these technologies with queer and non-binary people in mind? What about POCs? Women? Witches? Artists? Earth? The artists in Ten Futures use the sci-fi genre to make sense of, escape from, and question their own 21-century realities and the futures they hold.

Artists: Shohei Katayama, Summer Jade Leavitt, Adam Milner, Celeste Neuhaus, Paul Peng, Everest Pipkin & Loren Schmidt, Maybe Jairan Sadeghi, Centa Schumacher and Bradley Weyandt

Co-curated by Fred Blauth and Dave Zak

Opening Reception: Friday, December 21st 6-9pm
Gallery Crawl Reception: Friday, January 25th 6-10pm
Show runs: December 21st – February 24th
937 Gallery: 937 Liberty Ave, Second Floor, Pittsburgh, PA 15222

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Shohei Katayama In 2011, the Great East Earthquake and subsequent Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant leak and meltdown had a profound emotional impact on me and led to a major turning point in my artistic practices. I began using my work to examine anthropogenic impacts on the environment, including issues related to sustainability, pollution, and natural and manmade disasters.

As my work evolved to address environmental issues, I started researching the exchange between implicit micro-structures and explicit macro-structures, and how they affect systems that are often imperceptible due to their dynamic and mutable nature. The confluence of these experiences developed into my current and ongoing series of works that examine underlying patterns and forces, in an attempt to demonstrate the entanglements that are present between such systems and to illustrate the disruptions that occur when individual components are manipulated through a viewer’s interaction.

By revealing their complicity, it is my desire for viewers to experience gestalt – to be reminded of the whole, embrace communities, enhance group-cohesiveness, and realize how the monumental tasks that humanity faces can be managed through the amalgamation of human potential, innovation, and creativity. I want to look towards the future and help inspire dreams of what may come to be, attempting to capture a world where there is hope.

Summer Jade Leavitt is an artist and writer trying to figure out what a queer future looks like. Thinking about the liminal, the criminal, the invisible, her work confronts the institutional and cultural invalidation of her feminine voice, body, and desire. Through text, photo, artifact, and video, she approaches everyday life as a site of performance, documenting gestures large and small to archive and historicize them. Looking at pop culture, history, music videos, film, and theory, she aims to confuse lineages and authenticity. Her performative existence is a sci-fi documentary: all real, all fake. She is seeking to locate origins of trauma and excavate them from the body, creating space for all that has been lost, all that is yet to come. Her work is authoring her own representation, deconstructing language and perceptions of reality, imagining possible bodies.

Adam Milner’s sprawling and idiosyncratic practice uses collecting and archiving practices to interrogate how we hold onto things, and what value systems are embedded in methods of display and conservation. The hoard, the museum, the home, and the body become complicated and confused as Milner disrupts usual hierarchies of saving. The resulting works draw from deeply personal experiences to examine notions of value, intimacy, and power. While archives and museums often attempt to slow down the activity of an item, Milner chooses to let things remain active, both in how they shift materially and in how components are constantly reconfigured into new works. Indeed, materials like blood, flowers or even bronze are active and reveal themselves as subjects instead of static objects. Boundaries blur and categories seep into each, facilitated by a practice which embraces and makes room for the other.

He creates drawings, sculptures, interventions, and text. Milner has exhibited at the Andy Warhol Museum, the Aspen Art Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, Casa Maauad, Flux Factory, Gildar Gallery, and David B. Smith Gallery, among other venues. Currently, he is in the middle of an ongoing project with the Clyfford Still Museum consisting of archival research and nighttime actions within the museum. A publication with the museum is forthcoming. He has upcoming solo exhibitions at the Mattress Factory, the Everson Museum of Art and the Herron Galleries at the University of Indiana. He received his MFA from Carnegie Mellon University and is a recent participant of the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture.

Celeste Neuhaus is an interdisciplinary artist, educator, and witch. Her work reimagines an aesthetics of healing by synthesizing the often compartmentalized ecologies of body, psyche, culture, planet, and pluriverse. One question that fuels her practice is: how can space be made for wildness and mystery as we find ourselves collectively entangled in the patriarchal systems of exploitive capitalist predation?

Originally from Chicago, Celeste earned her BFA at the University of Illinois at Chicago and her Masters Degree in Studio Art in “The Land of Enchantment” at the University of New Mexico, where she was enrolled in the Land Arts program in Art and Ecology. Celeste has performed and exhibited widely in the United States in magic temples, DIY spaces, salt flats, fields of wildflowers, vacant lots, galleries, rooftops, and museums. She currently lives in Pittsburgh where she creates assemblages, performances, sculptures, and videos, gives haircuts, and teaches at Carnegie Mellon University.

Paul Peng’s picture-drawing folds together formal mark-making, 21st century American picture, and queer, mid-2000s-DeviantArt-evoking post-human bodies—baby-faced monster boys, species-ambiguous furry humanoids, anthropomorphic sentient pooltoys wolves—rendered

in soft, moon-eyed cartoon imagery. Peng treats these cartoon bodies as concrete, atomic units for his drawing process to collapse the space between pictured bodies, drawn pictures, and the drawing itself. By reembodying these abandoned monster boy personae from dysphoric, middle-school-fantasy shame into actual, drawn realness—with a side of streetwear, suburban/urban sentiment, and sensuous, intestinal line work—Peng’s work actualizes a “post-coming-of-age world” for these drawing-bound boys, filled with melancholic, aspirational anxiety and radical, homelike comfort.

Everest Pipkin & Loren Schmidt Withering Systems is a small software label and publishing house for the collaborative work of Everest Pipkin and Loren Schmidt. Withering Systems aims to bring quiet and unusual digital experiences to the public in unlikely places. Past Withering Systems work includes inflorescence.city, and the moth generator, as well as many other small games, print projects, and plant-growth simulations. withering.systems

Everest Pipkin is a drawing and software artist from Bee Caves, Texas, who produces intimate work with large data sets. They produce printed material as books and zines, as well as digital work in software, bots, and games. They also make drawings on paper. Pipkin holds a BFA from University of Texas at Austin, a MFA from Carnegie Mellon University, and has shown nationally and internationally at The Design Museum of London, The Texas Biennial, XXI Triennale of Milan, The Victoria & Albert Museum, and others.

They produce material as drawings, chapbooks, and zines, as well as digital work in software, bots, and games. Their work follows landscape as complicated by digital space- it follows the internet in the landscape, whether as fiber-optic cabling, data center construction, or network infrastructure. I also study how physical space is digitized in projects like Google Street View, or satellite imagery and census data. By looking at archives, big data repositories, and other online resources for information, I aim to reposition these often-corporate spaces as intimate, gentle, ecological, and personal- demanding an internet with room for softness.

Maybe Jairan Sadeghi What would it look like if our species existed in the universe as unobtrusive surveyors? What if through some speculative third eye we could foresee the consequences of every new technology and agreed to only adopt it in the service of a human utopia? And what if we could compute the parameters of a human species that humbly allows itself to be vanquished by nature’s revenge? My work centers around these questions. I embrace utopian vision as a critical necessity for modern myth making, and to me, part of utopia is deference to the natural world. Through drawing, painting and sculpture, I hope to create a body of figurative works with an implied narrative. Within this narrative, gender and racial ambiguity are all but guaranteed, and humans exist solely as consumers of the information they non-invasively collect from the universe. Drawing from my background as an immigrant and a  person existing in between many binaries, I subject my characters to a similar sense of isolation, bewilderment, and otherness. In contrast, however, I allow them to experience deep joy and satisfaction despite their isolation and subjugation by nature: in their scientific explorations, they wear expressions of arousal, wonder, and enchantment as they are pursued by bears, ensnared by kelp, and marooned in trenches under the sea.

Centa Schumacher In her lens-based practice, Centa Schumacher uses abstraction and luminance to explore ideas of consciousness and the indefinite. Uninterested in what the camera can do as a factual recording device, Schumacher works with a lens assembled from vintage camera elements, creating a unique tool that distorts light and perspective. The resulting images become a portal between natural phenomena and the unseen world.

Schumacher has shown her work in experimental environments including Aggregate Space in Oakland, CA and Root Division in San Francisco, CA, and has been an artist in residence at the Vermont Studio Center (Johnson, VT), Kala Art Institute (Berkeley, CA), and the Art Ark Gallery (San Jose, CA). Her work has been published in the literary magazines Witchcraft and Art Kit. She received her MFA from San Francisco State University and is currently based out of Pittsburgh, PA, where she is the co-director of Phosphor Project Space, an exhibition space focused on emerging artists.

Bradley Weyandt My current practice is built upon an amusement of the labor of objects. I reference objects found in an industrial or construction setting to replicate but negate those objects’ utility (to a degree) by manipulating or replacing the material that permits them to work. Cinder blocks, pallets, I-beams, and the like are reconsidered through material investigations, casting, direct fabrication and assemblage. The substituting materials are often entirely foreign to the construction field yet common in the everyday. Synthetic hair, cat litter, feathers, and Pine-sol subvert the heaviness of concrete, lumber, and steel. While material composition transforms, formal elements of the referenced objects are retained, and the fabricated replicas remain recognizable. This foundation of object familiarity invites consideration of the significance of the materials used and the conflicting relationship to the structural elements they compose.