February 14 - April 8, 2022
From the organizers:
“This solo exhibition of new works by Dallas based artist, Abby Bagby features sculptures exploring the underlying power dynamics of ornamentation through silicone and human hair.
The exhibition taps into many different eras, from medieval hair shirts, baroque filigree, Versailles inspired mirrors to Victorian hair art. Symbols from these different time periods are examined, exposing the latent hierarchies found within.
In ancient times, garments made out of intentionally coarse hair meant to irritate the skin were used in many Christian denominations as a form of penance for the sin of lavishly adorning oneself. Conspicuous fashion is a vital way for queer communities to exist, dress is a form of signaling when open communication is perilous. The wall of mirrors, inspired by the famous hall in the palace of the French monarch King Louis the XIV, doubles as a way for visitors to be seen, in the sense that they become part of the exhibition themselves, dissolving the barrier between art-object and viewer.
Victorian “hairwork” is an artform based on using human hair to create mementos, either of a baby’s first haircut, a dear friend or of a deceased loved one. The inherent morbidity and revulsion to these forms of trinkets when viewed today evolves from post WWII era consumerist campaigns associating hair and dirt with moral failings, propaganda ultimately used to enforce class divisions.
In “One Shoulder Formal Cape”, through juxtaposing organic material with commercial rubber, the synthetic skin that forms the substrate creates a vestment that is both sumptuous and repellant. Bagby’s installation combines decadence and the abject in a dazzling investigation of power, the symbols used to describe it, and through unconventional materials subverts the foundation such signifiers are built on.
“I work between the bounds of sculpture, fashion, conceptual art and social practice, seeking material connections between beauty and the abject. Concentrating on social mythology, memory, and self-presentation, I take from the legacy of surrealism, happenings, and the critical writings of philosopher and psychoanalyst Julia Kristeva to investigate where the exquisite meets the wretched. I use a mix of traditional sculptural techniques paired with non-traditional castoff organic matter as both form and subject matter. My aesthetic blends performative modes from avant garde and haute couture fashion through the synthesis of high and low materials. My work asks questions about the beautiful and horrific, and it challenges the dominant notion that they are separate entities. To quote Kristeva, “the abject is edged with the sublime”. In my bodily work, I use mixed media dominated by castoff human hair to emulate animal forms and skin-like surfaces, calling to mind our connection with the earth and our mortality. Through this lens, viewers and participants accept an invitation to interact, whether materially or conceptually, with work that is simultaneously familiar and alien, attractive and repulsive. Rejecting the traditional uses of hair and imposing it on new forms and hosts, the material becomes an icon of human interaction, exposing both harmony and fear. The works take the shape of traditional and contemporary forms that seek legacy, namely cultural garments, fashion, and social media documentation, speaking to both the desperate grasp for immortality and the quiet longing to simply not be forgotten.” – Abby Bagby
Abby Bagby is a sculptor and arts facilitator based in Dallas, TX. In 2014, they received their Bachelor’s in Art from the University of Dallas. While continuing their personal practice, they directed and curated Umbrella Gallery—a non-profit experimental space in the historic Deep Ellum neighborhood—for several years after earning their degree. In the midst of their curatorial debut they became one of the co-founders of ArtSkool, an interactive lecture and discussion series on contemporary art, which continued through 2018. Bagby has exhibited in local and national shows exploring both object-based work and performance. In 2019, they entered the international sphere by way of Dragon Dance Theatre Residency in Trois Rivieres, Quebec, CA, returning in 2020 to complete the Tongue River Artist Residency in Dayton, WY and also to found Odyssey Studios in Dallas, an artist run studio which provides performance-forwardand nonrestrictive venue space to emerging local artists.
The exhibition is on view from 10am-4pm, Monday-Friday at the H. Paxton Moore Gallery, located at 810 Main St, Rm B120, Dallas, TX 75202.
To make an appointment for viewing outside open hours, contact the Gallery Coordinator at [email protected] or (214) 444-4298. “
Reception: March 4, 2022 | 6–8 pm
Reception location: H. Paxton Moore Gallery, 810 Main Street, Rm B120, Dallas, TX 75202.
H. Paxton Moore Art Gallery, El Centro College
801 Main Street
Dallas, 75202 TX
(214) 860-2115Get directions