Levitt Gallery, Art Building West
School of Art and Art History, University of Iowa
September 10-October 2, 2021
Closing reception: October 1, 5-7 p.m.
Participating Artists: Tyanna J. Buie, Tony Orrico, Johnathan Payne, Elena V. Smyrniotis, Suzanne Wright
The Grant Wood Art Colony is pleased to present Hold the Line, a group exhibition of works by recent and current Grant Wood fellows. Tyanna J. Buie (Printmaking), Tony Orrico (Interdisciplinary Performance), and Suzanne Wright (Painting and Drawing) were the 2019-2020 Grant Wood Fellows, and Elena V. Smyrniotis (Printmaking) and Johnathan Payne (Painting and Drawing) are the current 2020-2022 fellows. Such an exhibition was not possible in spring 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hold the Line showcases the diverse formal and conceptual interests of each fellow’s individual practice, while also defining a through line between them. The artworks on view center themes around queerness, self-actualization, race relations, rupture, potentiality, Afro-/futurism, and utopia. Demarcations between figure and ground, one’s body against another’s, and architectural and sculptural interventions within institutional space are both locatable and blurred. The works on view are thus embedded with ambiguity; there are no clear answers to the inquiries they summon forth. In this way, the title of the exhibition somewhat contradicts its own political definition. “Hold the Line” as a statement means to maintain the existing position or state of affairs. Historically, it describes defensive military tactics where a line of troops hold ground to prevent an enemy breakthrough. Hold the Line subverts and re-contextualizes the phrase by visually embracing the tenuousness of ephemerality, vulnerability, plurality and movement.
The exhibition comes at a time of heightened cultural and political upheaval in the United States and abroad; ongoing uncertainty around the COVID-19 pandemic; a nationwide labor shortage; continued enactment of anti-feminist and anti-trans legislation; global climate disaster, among other issues of imminent and longterm threat. This is the background by which the exhibiting fellows’ artistic production and teaching practices are foregrounded against. Hold the Line does not attempt to solve these problems; instead, it shows an ongoing determination to make sense of our present reality whilst envisioning it entirely anew.
The Grant Wood Art Colony celebrates the life and legacy of Iowa’s most famous artist, Grant Wood. After painting one of the most recognizable images in the world, American Gothic, Wood joined the University of Iowa faculty. Each year, the Colony provides three Fellowships in Painting & Drawing, Printmaking, and Interdisciplinary Performance. Fellows teach courses, engage Iowans, and pursue their artistic endeavors. The Colony also hosts a biennial symposium and provides outreach to perpetuate Wood’s legacy as an artist and advocate of contemporary art. Special thanks to Ben Anzelc, Lauren Coghlan, Annie Hodgkins, Betsey Kosier, Kim Maher, and Jamie Wienfurter for their installation assistance.
Tyanna J. Buie
A Chicago and Milwaukee native, Tyanna J. Buie received her BA from Western Illinois University, and her MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. While in Wisconsin, she participated with Healthy Neighborhood Initiatives through the production of public art created for under-served neighborhoods and continues to maintain a connection to the community through exhibitions, artist residencies, and hosting printmaking workshops and demonstrations.
Buie is the recipient of multiple awards including the Mary L. Nohl Fund Fellowship, Joan Mitchell Painters & Sculptors Grant, Kresge Artist Fellowship/Visual Arts, Grant Wood Fellowship in Printmaking at the University of Iowa, and the 2020 Fellowship.art award, a top accelerator award/program funded through gener8tor, and was recently selected by artist Shepard Fairey to collaborate on the Milwaukee mural titled Voting Rights is Human Rights. Her work is included in major institutions, such as the Milwaukee Art Museum and the Northwestern Mutual Tower and Commons (Milwaukee, WI), as well as private collections nationally and has been reviewed on Hyperallergic.com, Newcity Chicago magazine, South Bend Tribune, and featured on Essay’d.com. Currently, Buie is an Assistant Professor/Section Chair of Printmaking at the College for Creative Studies (Detroit, MI).
Tony Orrico’s work has reached mass circulation for its ingenuity within the intersections of performance and drawing. His work explores how consciousness and physical impulses manifest into visible forms. He uses his own somatic research, Suspension Practice, as point of entry into his visual work. Orrico has performed/exhibited his work across the US and internationally in Australia, Belgium, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Mexico, the Netherlands, Poland, and Spain. His visual work is in the permanent collections of The National Academy of Sciences (Washington DC) and Museo Universitario de Arte Contemporáneo (MUAC, Mexico City) as well as prominent private collections. He has presented at the CCCB, Centre Pompidou-Metz, The New Museum, and Poptech 2011: The World Rebalancing. Orrico was one of a select group of artists to re-perform the work of Marina Abramovic during her retrospective at MoMA (2010). As a former member of Trisha Brown Dance Company and Shen Wei Dance Arts, Orrico has graced such stages as the Sydney Opera House, Teatro La Fenice, New York State Theater, and Theatre du Palais-Royal. He was the 2019-2020 Grant Wood Fellow in Printmaking and is currently an assistant professor of Intermedia at the University of Iowa’s School of Art and Art History.
Johnathan Payne obtained a BA in art from Rhodes College in 2012 and received his MFA in painting and printmaking from Yale School of Art in 2018. While at Yale, Payne co-curated exhibitions centering historically underrepresented artistic voices, including Publishing Camp: Queering Dissemination (2017), Queering Space at Yale and Black Joy ( both 2016). He worked as a Wurtele Gallery Teacher at the Yale University Art Gallery and received the Gloucester Residency Prize in summer 2017. In 2018, Payne completed museum leadership training programs at The Cleveland Museum of Art and The Studio Museum in Harlem. Recent exhibitions of Payne’s work include The Bridge to Uncertainty at Columbus College of Art and Design’s Beeler Gallery (2021; Columbus, OH), Threads at Foxy Production (2021; New York, NY), and Miss Lizzie’s Lattice at Deli Gallery (2020; Brooklyn, NY). He is featured in New American Paintings (MFA Annual #135), and has been published in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Observer, and Vice. Payne was a Spring 2020 Artist-in-Residence at Crosstown Arts in Memphis, TN, and is currently the 2020-22 Grant Wood Fellow in Painting and Drawing at the University of Iowa. Payne is the inaugural recipient of the Aminah Residency (Summer 2021), named after the late Columbus-based and MacArthur Grant-winning artist Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson.
Elena V. Smyrniotis
Elena V. Smyrniotis is a printmaker and installation artist with a background in architecture. Her work explores utopian landscapes and their place in the collective imagination, with a particular focus on architecture, topography, and cartography. She received her MFA in Printmaking from the University of Notre Dame, her MA in Printmaking and Drawing from the University of Saint Francis, and her MA in Architecture and Engineering from the State Petroleum University (Ufa, Russia). Her exhibition record includes shows at PINEA-LINEA DE COSTA (Rota, Spain), International Art and Design Exhibition in Selçuk University (Konya, Turkey), solo shows at CSPS (Cedar Rapids, IA), Artlink Gallery (Fort Wayne, IN), and at the Snite Museum of Art (South Bend, IN), where she was awarded the Walter Beardsley Award in 2017. Smyrniotis’s extensive international experiences include a Fellowship at the Rome Global Gateway (Rome, Italy); research with Geographical Society of Italy; teaching printmaking workshops at the Gems Metropolitan School (Dubai, OAE); and participation in workshops at the Painting School of Montmiral (France). She taught printmaking and drawing at the University of Notre Dame and the University of Saint Francis. She was the founder and director of the Art and Architecture School for Children (Ufa, Russia) and worked as an architect in St. Petersburg, Russia. She is the current 2020-2022 Grant Wood Fellow in Printmaking at the University of Iowa.
Suzanne Wright is an artist and professor living and working in New York City. She earned her BFA at Cooper Union and MFA at the University of California San Diego and also attended Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. Wright’s paintings, drawings, and collages propose a contemporary "feminist alchemy", forging alternative frames of reference and symbology, with new perspectives that attempt to lead us to a re-vitalized kind of perception, equality, and empowerment. Her exhibition record includes shows at Stephen Friedman Gallery (London), Charlie James Gallery(LA), Luis De Jesus(LA), Stefan Stux (NY), Claire Oliver Gallery (NY) and most recently Congruence, I LIKE YOUR WORK online juried exhibition, and The Other Side of the Rainbow, ArtPort Kingston(NY). Solo shows at Wilding Cran Gallery (LA). Commonwealth and Council (LA), Angel’s Gate Cultural Center (San Pedro, California) and Monya Rowe (NY). She was awarded the Kraus Visiting Professorship in Painting and Drawing at Carnegie Mellon and has taught at several universities in New York and Los Angeles, and was the Grant Wood Fellow in Painting (2019/20) at the University of Iowa. Most recently Suzanne was selected for the Silver Art Projects 3-month residency and exhibition (NY), The Blackball Artist Achievement grant for 2021(NY) and the forthcoming Alex Brown Foundation Residency (Des Moines, IA) 2022. Her work can be seen in the newest edition of New American Paintings issue # 149 and selected publications including Cock, Paper, Scissors, Feminist Landscapes, Strange Attractors, Armpit of the Mole, and Art and Queer Culture (Phaidon, 2013). Wright has been an active member of various AIDS and LGBTQ organizations, including ACT UP/New York from 1989-1998.