Jenni Crain
Only Once and Many More

Brooklyn, NY
Mary Lee Bendolph of Gee's Bend Quiltmakers, Justin Chance, Beverly Semmes
July 21 - 29, 2018

Only Once and Many More is a weeklong exhibition that brings together works by Mary Lee Bendolph of Gee’s Bend Quiltmakers (Gee’s Bend, AL, 1935), Justin Chance (New York, NY, 1993), and Beverly Semmes (Washington, D.C., 1958).

The works on view include a single quilt made by Mary Lee Bendolph, dating from 2014, comprised mainly from her household clothing and made with the assistance of her daughter, Essie B. Pettway; two recent quilts by Justin Chance that translate the traditions of quilting into a temporal navigation of heritage and history; and a series of drawings from Beverly Semmes’s FRP or Feminist Responsibility Project in which the artist draws and paints over depictions of women in pornographic spreads. Collectively and individually, these works very much allude to the body and to the preservation of inherited, community-oriented, and personally and culturally significant subjecthoods. Presented in a temporarily vacated bedroom of a Brooklyn apartment, the home, the ‘gallery’, and the works themselves become cocoon-like in nature as they generate environments and vehicles for discourse, where the comfort of the familiar beckons a reconsideration of tendencies towards the convenience of passive receipt.

Only Once and Many More is the first exhibition presented under the moniker through which the organizer (Jenni Crain) may (or may not) present forthcoming projects that focus on less conventional means of organization and presentation. O.O.M.M. will provide opportunities for more innovative, and hopefully, effective, forms of engagement via exhibition-based and arts-related programming.

The Gee’s Bend Quiltmakers have been quilting for over four generations. The name of the group is defined by the geographical location where the quilters’ and their ancestors lived, primarily on the Pettway plantation, along an isolated bend of the Alabama River. It is often considered due to their isolation, working with the materials available, that the quilter’s developed a distinctive improvisational and almost modernist approach to quilting; one that deviated from the ordered patterns of Euro-American quiltmaking, and instead, created an innovative language entirely their own. Often passed down from mother to daughter as a familial inheritance, quilting has historically provided women a vehicle of creativity, expression, and a symbol of matriarchal legacy. As a collective, the Gee’s Bend Quiltmakers’ have exhibited institutionally including at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, PA (2008); Museum of Fine Arts Boston, MA (2005); Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY (2003); and Museum of Fine Arts Houston, TX (2002); among others. Mary Lee Bendolph’s retrospective exhibition at Mount Holyoke College Art Museum, MA in January – May 2018, was the first solo exhibition dedicated to an individual quilter of Gee’s Bend. The exhibition will travel to the List Gallery at Swarthmore College, PA in September – October 2018.

Justin Chance is an artist and writer and the co-founder of the Collaborative Center of Storm, Space and Seismic Research – an explorative platform dedicated to facilitating projects, exhibitions and publications by artists, scholars, writers and cultural practitioners. He holds a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Fiber & Material Studies and a Bachelor of Arts in Visual & Critical Studies from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2015). Chance’s work was most recently included in ‘Sticks and Stones’ a group exhibition curated by Chadwick Gibson and Cheyenne Julien at Smart Objects in Los Angeles, where Chance will have his first solo exhibition in October 2018.

Since the early 1990’s, Beverly Semmes has utilized performance, video, sculptural installations – often of oversized dresses and female garments, glass, ceramics, photography and works on paper to address gendered associations and issues of the representations of women. Solo exhibitions of Beverly Semmes work have been presented at the Tang Museum at Skidmore College, New York; Weatherspoon Art Museum and the Faulconer Gallery at Grinnell College, Iowa; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Camden Art Centre, London and the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio. Her work is included in numerous museum collections, including the Albright Knox Art Gallery, the Hirshhorn Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Denver Art Museum, and the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art. This October 2018, Semmes’s work will be included in the survey exhibition, the Carnegie International, at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburg, PA.

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Justin Chance Friends, 2018. Wet and needle felted wool, dye, silk, cotton, thread, ballpoint pen; quilted.

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Beverly Semmes Piano, 2013. Ink on magazine page. 8 1/4 x 5 inches (sheet). 15 1/2 x 12 inches (framed)

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Mary Lee Bendolph Block and Strip Quilt - Mary’s Daily Wear, 2008 - 2014. Wool and cotton blends. Approximately 68 x 79 inches

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Justin Chance Rose for an Opposing Wall, 2014 - 2015. Wet and needle felted wool, dye, silk, cotton, embroidered; quilted.

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Beverly Semmes Cabaret, 2013. Ink on magazine page. 10 7/8 x 7 5/8 inches (sheet). 18 3/4 x 15 1/4 inches (framed)

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Beverly Semmes Piano, 2013. Ink on magazine page. 8 1/4 x 5 inches (sheet). 15 1/2 x 12 inches (framed)