May 6 - July 29, 2023
From McClain Gallery:
“McClain Gallery is thrilled to open our first presentation of Nick Vaughan and Jake Margolin’s work this Saturday, May 6 from 2–4 PM. The installation provides an introduction to the Houston-based artists’ expansive, collaborative, and mutli-disciplinary practice that pulls them through a vivid range of material exploration, sculpture, drawings, lectures, and performances to excavate and shine light onto the political and social histories of LGBTQ+ people.
Vaughan and Margolin consider their 50 States Project their life’s work. An ongoing series of fifty installations, the artwork compiles found materials and reimagines the unfound bits of lost LGBTQ+ stories through time and in these fifty states of America. So far the artists have retold stories from Wyoming, Oklahoma, Colorado, Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana. The exhibition begins with three “wind drawings” based on documentary photographs taken during the CO, TX, and AR projects, in which imagery is stenciled onto paper in loose charcoal powder and subsequently blown away. Vaughan and Margolin showed this series in a recent solo exhibition at the Blaffer Art Museum and described how “the remaining records of the images are as ephemeral, delicate, and fragile as the hidden queer histories they are derived from.”
Norma Trist: a Livre d’Artiste; or Pure Carbon: A Story of the Inversion of the Sexes, an artist book made with Flatbed Press in Austin, comprises 6 intaglio prints and a 149 page accordion bound serigraphed text with illustrations, made in a similar manner to the wind drawings. The typographic design by Vaughan and Margolin is based on the original lead typeface from the first and only printing of Norma Trist in 1895 by Eugene von Boeckmann in Austin, TX: the novel is likely the first featuring a lesbian protagonist. Each chapter is illustrated with an image taken by the artists of what currently stands on the sites of historic lesbian and gay bars across the state of Texas.
The exhibition culminates with a series titled Spiritus, wherein the artists respond to current political events that relate to and impact their lives as LGBTQ+ people and as a married couple. The performances consist of the artists reading seminal queer texts into plastic bags, filling up the space they inhabit until they become a critical mass. On view will be the performance remnants from their recent work Spiritus: Obergefell v Hodges from 2023, where the artists read the entirety of the Obergefell Supreme Court decision which led to the legalization of gay marriage throughout the United States; and video documentation of Spiritus: 20 Hours of Fox News Read into Bags as a Volume of Breath from 2011.
While far from comprehensive, this capsule exhibition illustrates the artists’ commitment to diving deep into the stories of queer people left out of main-stream history. Vaughan and Margolin’s process relies on groundbreaking academic work, their own research into archives, and a considered, sensitive practice of collaborating with local LGBTQ+ communities. We look forward to bringing an increased understanding of the fullness of their work to our audiences through continued partnership.”
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