Introducing Chinati Artists in Residence for 2021

A core component of Chinati’s mission is our artist in residence program, which supports the growth and development of artists of diverse ages, backgrounds, and disciplines.

Last summer, Ingrid Schaffner, Chinati’s curator, reviewed over 250 applications from around the world for the artist in residence program; it was a remarkable number and many wrote explicitly about Chinati as a place of sanctuary during these times. We are excited to introduce the five artists selected for Chinati’s artist in residence program for 2021. Their work and thinking are already prompting new ways of seeing the art, architecture, and land at Chinati.

Eric N. Mack 

(born 1987 in Columbia, Maryland; lives in New York)

Halter, 2019
Halter, 2019

Eric N. Mack is drawn to the legacy of artists who have come to live and work in Marfa; he also sees Chinati as a place to “get a better sense of the environmental conditions my work can endure.” He specifically cites Christopher Wool, who, as part of his 2006 artist residency, exhibited large-scale silkscreen paintings in the Arena, as well as to the opportunity to study Judd’s vision close at hand.

Moving between the disciplines of painting and sculpture, Mack composes textile-based assemblages that dress their environments. Swathes of patterned and plain materials drape on the wall or in space like theatrical garments and kimonos. Recent works actually travel between wall and body, functioning as exuberant abstractions and fashionable attire, depending. The wear-and-tear of being—of metaphorically being “worn”—is also indexical to his art. Moving-blankets, drooping under their own weight, are collaged with images of black models and celebrities, and pages of news. In 2019 his chosen site for Desert X Biennial was an abandoned gas station; it served as a stretcher for Halter, a canopy of Missoni knit that was destroyed by an act of arson.  

Mack received his BFA from The Cooper Union and his MFA from Yale University. He participated in the 2019 Whitney Biennial and in 2017 he was the recipient of the inaugural BALTIC Artists’ Award selected by artist Lorna Simpson. His past participation in prestigious residencies—Rauschenberg Residency on Captiva Island, the Delfina Foundation residency in London, the Studio Museum Harlem, and Skowhegan School of Painting—connects his time at Chinati to a productive flow of work and to inspiring contexts.

Jessi Reaves 

(born 1986 in Portland, Oregon; lives in Brooklyn, New York)

Jesse Reaves, NY state cabinet, 2019
NY state cabinet, 2019

Jessi Reaves activates thresholds between art and furniture—systems of design and living—that find ample traction with Donald Judd’s work in Marfa and his vision for Chinati. Her interest in how art interacts with extreme environments runs parallel with her curiosity about Marfa’s capacity to be both an international artistic hub “while also remaining a vast, untouched landscape.” In residence, she plans “to find and use salvaged objects from the desert as new binding components” for her sculpture.

Reaves transforms found objects (chairs, tables, lamps, apparel) and all manner of materials (from slick to crusty) into sculptures and installations that entertain use. There is often a critical sense of satire underlying works in which Modernism’s canon—and by extension the men who made it—appears roughly dismembered and put back together with the very craft, taste, and organicism it was designed to suppress. Witness a recent installation, in which an environmental cube, upholstered in brown shag carpet, became a pedestal for sculptures by Reaves and a conversation pit for viewers. 

Reeves received a BFA from Rhode Island School of Design. She participated in the 2018 Whitney Biennial and the 57th Carnegie International (organized by Schaffner). Her forthcoming exhibition at the Contemporary Art Museum, Houston, pairs an assortment of works to date in relation to the shaped, sculptural paintings of Elizabeth Murray.

Alan Ruiz

(born 1984 in Mexico City, Mexico; lives in Brooklyn, New York)

Alan Ruiz, WS-K80X4, 2019
WS-K80X4, 2019

Alan Ruiz comes to Chinati with an expressed interest in the legacy of Donald Judd—as it pertains to the “immaterial assets of light, space, and air”—and a project to use Chinati’s archive to research and respond to Dan Flavin’s untitled (Marfa Project) as an architectural system and as a prompt for movement.

Throughout his work, Ruiz approaches research and sculpture as forms of investigation into critical and cultural techniques of framing. Doors, walls, conduit, vents become “architectural media” in large-scale installations and digital designs that expose and conceal acts of social and economic construction. For Ruiz, who relates his concerns as an artist to his own queer and Mexican-American subjectivity, these constructions are fundamentally political. How form performs was the central question of a 2019 artist talk at DIA:Beacon on Charlotte Posenenske (whose work was the subject of a special exhibition at Chinati in 2015), as well as the current special issue of Movement Research Performance Journal edited by Ruiz.
 
Ruiz received an MFA from Yale University and participated in the Whitney Independent Study Program. He was awarded a Creative Capital Grant for his ongoing project Spatial Alchemy, which will be the subject of an exhibition at The Kitchen in New York in 2021.

Lucy Skaer 

(born 1975 in Cambridge, United Kingdom; lives in Glasgow and London)

Lucy Skaer, Sticks & Stones, 2013-2015
Sticks & Stones, 2013-2015

Lucy Skaer visited Marfa in 2010, Roni Horn’s Things That Happen Again, Pair Object VII (For a Here and a There) left a lasting—looping— impression. Horn’s solid, truncated, copper cones found repetition not only with one another, but also—in Skaer’s mind’s eye—with a 1930s painting by Paul Nash, Equivalents for the Megaliths. A British surrealist, Nash transfigured standing stone monuments (think Stonehenge) into modernist abstractions in the landscape. As triangulated with Skaer’s own art, Nash’s painting and Horn’s sculpture share a sense of density in ideas, forms, materials, and comprehension. Anticipating her time at Chinati, Skaer sees “soaking up the relations between sculpture, architecture and landscape would be a rich and productive experience.”

Skaer is a sculptor whose work slows ideas down to abstractions and makes them concrete. She once put a whale skeleton behind a partitioned wall so that it was only visible one sliver at time. She represented the ancient Terracotta Army of Chinese funerary figures as 530 tenmoku-glazed stoneware lozenges—an homage, in part, to the British ceramicist Bernard Leach. Who makes history? What is the “grammar” of sameness and difference? How do ideas unfold? These are questions of Skaer’s art.

Skaer received a BA from the Environmental Art Department at Glasgow School of Art. She was a 2009 Turner Prize nominee and participated in the 2018 Carnegie International. She is at work on a commission for the Thames Tideway Sculpture Park for 2024.

Wong Kit Yi

(born 1983 in Hong Kong; lives in New York and Hong Kong)

Wong Kit Yi, Hong Kong Weather Modification Office (Square cloud), 2019
Hong Kong Weather Modification Office (Square cloud), 2019

Wong Kit Yi is coming to Chinati for the weather—specifically for the clouds and questions of borders and nations clouds carry. “Does weather belong to a country or have a nationality?” What might we see in the (Visa-free) travel of clouds across the sky relative to the restricted movement of people across borders? Having grown up in “semi-tropical” Hong Kong—where anti-Chinese government protests have given rise to an urgent democracy movement—Wong is drawn to Marfa in Presidio County as it borders Mexico, as well as to the “meteorological borders” between the arid west and moist gulf air of this desert region’s dynamic climate. Her work at Chinati follows on a recent project titled Hong Kong Weather Office (Square cloud).

Wong makes entertaining and conceptual use of karaoke as a means of translating her art’s investigations into performative lectures and essay films with sing-along subtitles. The lectures are often delivered by Ali Wong, who is like the artist in every way, only far more professional and organized. It’s Ali who enables Wong Kit Yi to concentrate solely on her art.

Wong studied traditional ink painting at the Chinese University of Hong Kong; she received her MFA in sculpture at Yale University. She participated in the interdisciplinary ArcticCircle Residency program and co-chairs LASER (Leonardo Art Science Evening Rendezvous) an international program that brings together artists and scientists. Her most recent commissioned work Yes-Jet-Lag / 你好時差 is part of Art on Grid, a citywide, open-air exhibition presented by Public Art Fund.

The Chinati Foundation’s Artist in Residence program is generously supported by the Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation and the Chinati Contemporary Council, a donor group composed of cultural leaders and art enthusiasts from around the world. To learn more, click here.