With the generous support of Swish Projects @swishprojects my installation for @screamqueenpresents for the @otherplacesartfair was on view at the gallery from August 10th, 2020 til September 9th, 2020.
In addition, the work was written about in Herein Journal by the editor of Herein, Elizabeth Rooklidge- https://www.hereinjournal.org/one-work-tessie-salcido-whitmore
Tessie Salcido Whitmore’s artistic practice is rooted in collecting, a process and an ethos exemplified by her recent installation, We Can Discover the Wonders of Nature, at Swish Projects. For Salcido Whitmore, found objects carry an aura and constitute a vocabulary all their own. She has spent hundreds of hours scouring swap meets and thrift stores, not setting out with an agenda but rather allowing psychological room for objects to speak to her. If this sounds a bit hippie-dippy… well, it is, and Salcido Whitmore knows it. Raised by a single mother in California, the artist grew up steeped in New Age religion, an eclectic spiritual amalgam drawing from a wide range of traditions. New Age practices employ a kind of combinatory strategy, one that surfaces not only in its philosophies but also in the do-it-yourself aesthetic of its counterculture. Salcido Whitmore infuses these phenomena with self-awareness, humor, and an artistic rigor that make works like We Can Discover the Wonders of Nature so effective.
The intricate installation is part altar, part still life. While the former is clearly rooted in the milieu of her upbringing, the latter comes from Salcido Whitmore’s extensive academic training as a painter. During her undergraduate education, her professors set up elaborate still lifes in the classroom for students to paint, an approach Salcido Whitmore adopted and continued after graduate school. Soon, however, she realized that she was more interested in the objects themselves, and constructing relationships among them, than in replicating their image on the canvas. As she moved these still lifes directly into the gallery, she cut out the intermediary effort, which allowed her to focus on the process of collecting and the transformation that occurs when she combines objects.
We Can Discover the Wonders of Nature is the most powerful example of this practice in Salcido Whitmore’s career to date. Particular elements in the installation reference art historical moments and tropes: Greek and Roman architecture and sculpture; depictions of Adam, Eve, and the serpent in the Garden of Eden; the use of multiples in movements such as Pop and Minimalism. The seriousness of these references is juxtaposed with a certain goofiness: Yoda in a Santa hat, a creepy fake hand straight from Halloween decor, freakishly large domestic felines. Ultimately, Salcido Whitmore’s practice is ruled by aesthetic choices— while she selects objects she is drawn to organically, her final choices are based on how they operate visually in concert with each other. Undergirded by a formal structure, these unexpected elements mix to summon a vernacular language that feels simultaneously familiar and inexplicable. In We Can Discover the Wonders of Nature, Salcido Whitmore blends spirituality, history, nostalgia, and absurdity to create a humble monument to the role objects play in our lives.
—Elizabeth Rooklidge, Editor, HereIn