Retrospective Exhibition

forest and stone reminders: the sculpture of eileen macdonagh

 Eileen MacDonagh with her Ogham Stones 2012

Eileen MacDonagh with her Ogham Stones 2012, VISUAL Carlow

This post comes to you from An Arts and Ecology Notebook

‘ THE QUARRY   This is where it all begins.  I love going there to see the stone in its most natural state.  Quarries are my cathedrals,  even when its raining I always come home uplifted.’ Eileen MacDonagh, 2012

Over the last year or so I have been very privileged to have been invited by one of Ireland’s leading sculptor’s, Eileen MacDonagh, to document her work process by film and photographs for her retrospective exhibition LITHOsphere. The exhibition opens today and continues until May 7 2012 and I’ve been editing madly for the 1/2h film I created for the show (I’ll post some of the links to film clips below).

Eileen is a great friend to my husband and I; Martin over recent years has taken up stone sculpture and he could have no better teacher or friend for that matter. Martin is a geologist so there are often lots of discussions on stones, grinding equipment and lots of excitement about the sculpture process in general. Its an odd contrast to my own practice but I want to mention aspects of Eileen’s work that touch me deeply too.

I really admire the attention to working with physical materials in Eileen’s stone practice; it echoes an earlier time when art was more deeply connected to the material world. In contemporary art, there has been a move, and I would say a dangerous loss of connection to the fabric of material life – much contemporary work has moved to virtual digital methods (my own included although I try to ground my work in a long term work with my forest outside my door). And then there are elements in Eileen’s work that serve to trigger profound reminders too; particularly in her  astounding 8m forest of her new breathtaking installation Cathedral and her new Ogham Stones. Her ‘cathedral’ forest towers above one; these papier mache forms reminiscent of highly remarkable and endangered baobab trees, many species of which are on the island of Madagascar. In recent weeks I’ve seen disturbing reports that we are losing our large trees all over the world. Centuries of relatively rapid forest loss over all continents and further degradation of forested areas by industrial forestry methods, ever encroaching intensive agriculture,  changes in climate, and competition from other invasive species  are having profound and irreversible effects. I know not everyone will be thinking about ecological loss when viewing Eileen’s work but I can’t help relate how forests have always been the ‘shadow of civilization’; how we treat our forests and relate to our forests tells us much about the state of our so called civlisation. Eileen’s forest came together with her incredible enthusiasm to bring people to the project too; forests are not just trees but a complex web of relationships and Eileen’s forest also grew from a complex web of relations of people in the local area.

Eileen’s new Ogham Stones are reminders too. In ancient Ireland, stone pillars around the country were marked with carved, indented lines on the edges to describe the species of trees in the surrounding and then much forested regions of Ireland. In the  stone cleave markings in Eileen’s work process, I see references here to trees too.

I am only referring to some of the works in this large exhibition; along with the 8 m forest in which you can walk through, there are over 50 tonnes of stoneworks on display. LITHOsphere opens today and continues for 3 months at VISUAL, the centre for contemporary art in Carlow. Please also see the Visual site for talks by Eileen over the coming months, I know the first talk will be a talk around all the pieces in the gallery and the work that went into making them.

installation of Cathedral by Eileen MacDonagh, 2012

A shot I took in the gloaming when Cathedral was being installed; installation by Eileen MacDonagh, 2012

Here are the links to my film clips that I created for Eileen’s work: there is a long slideshow about her two decades of sculpute work (this is a slow silent piece for the gallery as there will be activity sheets for visiting children about the stone works), a film about her new Stone Circle and clips on the community work behind the development, creation and installation of Cathedral.

installation of Cathedral by Cathy Fitzgerald 2012

Cathedral installed: Eileen and Martin running through the trees: a still from the Lithosphere film

An Arts & Ecology Notebook, by Cathy Fitzgerald, whose work exists as ongoing research and is continually inspired to create short films, photographic documentation, and writings. While she interacts with foresters, scientists, and communities, she aims to create a sense of a personal possibility, responsibility and engagement in her local environment that also connects to global environmental concerns.
Go to An Arts and Ecology Notebook

GRAPHIC RADICALS: 30 Years of World War 3 Illustrated / December 7, 2010-February 5, 2011

World War 3 Illustrated, Issue 1 (1980), cover by Ben Hillman

GRAPHIC RADICALS: 30 Years of World War 3 Illustrated

December 7, 2010 to February 5, 2011
Opening Tuesday, December 7 / 7-9pm

NEW YORK – Graphic Radicals is a 30th anniversary retrospective of World War 3 Illustrated, an independently published political comic magazine founded in 1980 by artists Seth Tobocman and Peter Kuper. Comprised of original comics drawings and paintings, posters, commissioned murals, documentary film, animation and a complete set of issues, Graphic Radicals will be the largest World War 3 Illustratedexhibition to date and will highlight the history that the magazine has scrutinized, documented, and participated in for three decades.

World War 3 Illustrated was first established in response to the Iran hostage crisis and impending election of Ronald Reagan and since then has confronted social and political issues ignored by the mainstream press. The magazine is an annual publication produced by a collective of artists in response to a particular theme.World War 3 Illustrated has covered topics as diverse the Tompkins Square Riot, homelessness, first-person accounts of 9/11, the prison industrial complex, a teachers’ strike in Mexico, Hurricane Katrina rescue efforts and, in the upcoming issue, the food chain. Critic Lucy Lippard wrote of World War 3 Illustrated that its “ecological and social prophecies are coming to pass, and the apocalyptic vision that gives WW3 its desperate force and unique identity is the present.”

This retrospective exhibition is the culmination of nearly two decades of collaboration with Exit Art to bring comic art to a wider audience. Exit Art was a pioneer in giving art world recognition to the medium of comics with its groundbreaking exhibition Comic Power (1993). Exit Art presented an exhibition of original art from World War 3 Illustrated’s 25th anniversary issue in 2005.

Mumia Abu Jamal, Penny Allen, Peter Bagge, Isabella Bannerman, Rosie Bottom, Steve Brodner, Zenzele Browne, Leigh Brownhill, Christopher Cardinale, Sue Coe, Scott Cunningham, Brian Damage, Eric Darton, Eric Drooker, Kate Evans, FLY, Susan Greene, Ethan Heitner, Chris Heneghan, Paula Hewitt, Mirko Ilic, Ryan Inzana, Melissa Jameson, Sandy Jimenez, Sabrina Jones, Kathy Kelly, Tom Keough, Stephen Kroninger, Peter Kuper, Irene Ledwith, Tom McDonald, Mac McGill, Rebecca Migdal, Naji-Al-Ali, Ursula O’Steen, Jose Ortega, Maddalena Polleta, Kevin Pyle, Carlo Quispe, Corinne Rhodes, Spain Rodriguez, James Romberger, Joe Sacco, Nicole Schulman, R. Sikoryak, Susan Simensky Bietila, Erin Sinefit, Chuck Sperry, Art Spiegelman, Tenesh, Seth Tobocman,Tom Tomorrow, Teresa Turner, Lawrence Van Abbema, Marguerite Van Cook, Anton Van Dalen, Edwin Vazquez, John Williamson, Susan Willmarth, Samantha Wilson, Leah Wishnia, David Wojnarowicz, WW3 Arts In Action, Micah Ian Wright

Organized by Peter Kuper, Seth Tobocman, and Susan Willmarth.

Peter Kuper is the co-founder of World War 3 Illustrated. His illustrations and comics have been featured inTime, The New York Times, and MAD Magazine, for which he has written and illustrated SPY vs. SPY since 1997. He has produced over twenty books including, The System, an award-winning comic adaptation of Kafka’s Metamorphosis and Diario De Oaxaca, a visual journal of two years in Mexico. He was the 2009 gold medal recipient at the Society of Illustrators for sequential art.

Seth Tobocman is the co-founder of World War 3 Illustrated. He is the author and illustrator of five graphic books, including You Don’t Have to Fuck People Over to Survive, Portraits of Israelis and Palestinians, andUnderstanding the Crash. He has participated in exhibitions at ABC No Rio, Exit Art, the Museum of Modern Art and the New Museum of Contemporary Art. His illustrations have appeared in The New York Times among many other publications and his images have been used in posters, pamphlets, murals, graffiti, and tattoos by people’s movements around the world, from the African National Congress in South Africa, to squatters in New York’s Lower East Side.

Susan Willmarth has been an illustrator for the past 30 years. Her illustrations have appeared in New York Magazine, The New York Times, Essence, Ms, World War 3 Illustrated, AK Press, Writers and Readers, andVerso, among many other publications.


Tuesday, December 7 / 7-9pm
Opening Night: Issue #41 Release Party
The opening of Graphic Radicals coincides with the release of World War 3 Illustrated: Issue #41 – The Food Chain. Copies of the issue will be available for purchase and artists from the magazine’s long history will be on hand to sign copies.

Everybody eats … but how do we stop from being eaten? This latest batch of new comics unearths some of the answers and asks the big questions about the food chain, our relationship to it and experiences with it. Featuring work by Jennifer Camper, Sue Coe, Sandy Jimenez, Sabrina Jones, Peter Kuper, Mac McGill, Rebecca Migdal, Seth Tobocman and many others. Edited by Ame Gilbert, Ethan Heitner, Sandy Jimenez, Rebecca Migdal, and Edwin Vazquez.

Friday, January 14 / 7-9pm
Picture the Homeless
With artist talks and presentations by Seth Tobocman, Mac Mcgill and Rebecca Migdal and music by
Eric Blitz and Andy Laties
Picture the Homeless is a grassroots organization of homeless men and women who fight to impact and change policies and systems on issues that directly effect the homeless population such as housing, police violence, and the shelter-industrial complex.

Friday, January 21 / 7-9pm
Friends of Brad Will
With artist talks and presentation by Susan Simensky Bietila and Peter Kuper
Friends of Brad Will is a network of activists which promotes enhanced public awareness about the human rights abuses linked to the “war on drugs.” In that context, it is working to promote government policies and actions that result in accountability for the murder, in Mexico, of U.S. journalist Brad Will; the release of and end to harassment of innocents and witnesses to his murder, who are being scapegoated with it; and the rejection of Plan Mexico.

Wednesday, January 26 / 7-9pm
Milk Not Jails
With artists talks and presentations by Sabrina Jones and Kevin Pyle
Milk Not Jails is a consumer campaign to mobilize New York residents to support the dairy industry and the long-term sustainability of the rural economy. It advocates for criminal justice and agriculture policy reform to bring about positive economic growth.

Exit Art is an independent vision of contemporary culture. We are prepared toreact immediately to important issues that affect our lives. We do experimental, historical and unique presentations of aesthetic, social, political and environmental issues. We absorb cultural differences that become prototype exhibitions. We are a center for multiple disciplines. Exit Art is a 28-year-old cultural center in New York City founded by Directors Jeanette Ingberman and artist Papo Colo, that has grown from a pioneering alternative art space, into a model artistic center for the 21st century committed to supporting artists whose quality of work reflects the transformations of our culture. Exit Art is internationally recognized for its unmatched spirit of inventiveness and consistent ability to anticipate the newest trends in the culture. With a substantial reputation for curatorial innovation and depth of programming in diverse media, Exit Art is always changing.

General exhibition support provided by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; Bloomberg LP; Jerome Foundation; Lambent Foundation; Pollock-Krasner Foundation; the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn; Exit Art’s Board of Directors and our members. A portion of this show was curated collectively by Susan Simensky Bietila, Christopher Cardinale, Sabrina Jones, Rebecca Migdal, Nicole Schulman and Seth Tobocman. The show originated at the invitation of Max Yela at UWM Library Special Collections and was assembled by Susan Simensky Bietila with the expert assistance of Jessica Bublitz, Carrie Leatherman, and Max Yela.

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EXIT ART 475 Tenth Avenue (at 36th Street), New York, NY 10018
212-966-7745 / / A, C, E to 34th Street / Penn Station

    Open Tue.–Thu., 10am–6pm; Fri., 10am–8pm; and Sat., 12–6pm.
    Closed Sun. and Mon. $5 suggested donation.