I Work From Home
Organized by David Norr, Chief Curator
I Work From Home, Michelle Grabner’s first comprehensive solo museum exhibition, presents her artwork as part of a varied and committed practice that also encompasses critical writing and curating. While these activities are typically separated, and placed in hierarchy, Grabner models a productively holistic approach to creative work. All of Grabner’s activities are driven by distinctive values and ideas: working outside of dominant systems, working tirelessly, working across platforms and towards community.
This exhibition surveys Grabner’s work from 1993 to the present, including paintings, prints, video, and sculptures, which investigate repetition, process, and the aesthetics and social-dynamics of the domestic sphere. Grabner’s paintings are a particular focus of the exhibition, spanning early works based on textile patterns appropriated from her domestic environment; her shift to abstraction, which continued her interest in repeated forms and gestures; and recent works that revisit textiles directly through the use of torn fabric and brightly colored gingham patterns.
In addition to her focused and isolated studio work, collaboration has always played a central role in Grabner’s practice. I Work From Home includes a full selection of video works authored by CAR (Conceptual Artists Research), a collaborative formed by Grabner, her husband Brad Killam, and their two young sons in the early 1990s. Many of these videos were made with artist David Robbins, and present both humorous and documentary chronicles of suburban activities. More recently, Grabner and Killam have produced mobile sculptures, several of which animate the exhibition. Using Grabner’s finished canvases as raw material or building blocks to which other artworks and objects are attached, they create new dependencies and question the paintings’ value and autonomy. Artist Gaylen Gerber, with whom Grabner has often worked, has produced a backdrop for one of the gallery walls, subtly reframing a selection of Grabner’s relief paintings on panel.
An important feature of the exhibition is a replica of The Suburban, an eight-by-eight foot artist project space that Grabner and Killam have maintained next door to their home in Oak Park, Illinois, since 1999. The Suburban has presented the work of over 200 emerging and established artists, gaining an international reputation for its program. At MOCA Cleveland, The Suburban will host a series of installations by artists Karl Haendel, Michael Smith, Amanda Ross-Ho, and Jessica Jackson Hutchins.
Michelle Grabner (1962, Oshkosh, WI) lives and works in Oak Park, IL. Solo exhibitions of her work have been held at PEREGRINEPROGRAM, Chicago; INOVA, The University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee; MINUS SPACE, Brooklyn; Ulrich Museum, Wichita; and University Galleries, Illinois State University. She has been included in group exhibitions at Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Tate St. Ives, UK; and Kunsthalle Bern, Switzerland. Grabner joined the faculty of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1996, and became Chair of the Painting and Drawing department in the fall of 2009. She is also a senior critic at Yale University in the Department of Painting and Printmaking. Her writing has been published in Artforum, Modern Painters, frieze, Art Press, and Art Agenda, among others. Grabner is co-curator of the 2014 Whitney Biennial.