Larissa Bates . Rosa Booth . Wells Chandler . Elena del Rivero . Kerry Downey . Judy Glantzman . Glenn Goldberg . Brenda Goodman . James Hannaham . Mala Iqbal . Valesca Lafrance . Shona Macandrew . Linda Mary Montano . Maritza Ranero . Lisa Sanditz . Aparna Sarkar . Dasha Shishkin . Pat Sprott . Raya Terran . Molly Zuckerman-Hartug
Curated by Angela Dufresne
November 25, 2023 – January 14, 2024
Opening reception: Saturday, November 25, 2-5pm
On view during Open Hours, Bushel programs, by chance, and by appointment
(for appointments, email email@example.com)
Bushel is pleased to present “Fiery Fodder,” a group exhibition guest curated by Angela Dufresne. “Fiery Fodder” gathers together a group of artists’ works that speak to a range of feelings about the force of Mother. From the tangible joys of living affection to the profound sorrow of loss, emotions about Mothers run the gamut: love, rage, fear, affection, regret, gratitude, obligation, bereavement, exhaustion, disappointment, joy, adoration, sadness, and, sometimes, all these at once. For the artists included here, Mother encompasses a glorious, overly expectation’d, treacherous sphere, and it makes a fiery fodder for those who are harmed, charmed, cared for, and reborn in its wake.
Curator’s note: Carrying Our Mothers
The spark that originated this exhibition occurred when I was driving west on the Mass Pike with Brenda Goodman in May of 2023. We got to talking about our mothers and how they manifest in our lives and practice. Brenda said “Everything I’ve ever made is about my mother,“ and I said, “Holy shit—me too!” And the idea of the show was born.
We kept talking — about how Mother is a force we carry with us, affecting and effecting everything we do, say, suffer through, and aspire to. About how we accept the knowledge that our connection to our mothers is so central to our being that our artistic practice must reverberate its presence, even if— perhaps especially if—that presence is felt as an absence. And about how the experience of Mother carries with it a sense of loss and a lack of ideal connection that can get transformed into a driving force for self-realization—and, inevitably, artistic practice.
The process of organizing the list of artists began immediately. We sought out artists with connections to Bushel or to the Catskills region Bushel supports with their organizing; then, we expanded the geographic scope as works came to our attention that had explicit, fabulous connections to the themes of the show and its impetus.
Once Brenda and I took our ideas to other artists we were reminded of all the ways in which Mother is not a universal condition, and of how many folx live their lives without the reality of mother—or even its constructed abstractions—being an essential part of their lived experience. As someone who lost her own mother to suicide when I was 26, I did feel mother as a urgent thematic umbrella, even in its absence. But there are no universals being proposed here, no grand statements about motherlack or mother predominance. “Fiery Fodder” presents very different artists who explore, from their own perspectives and experiences, mother as fodder, from ideas to sublime realities, and everything in between.
We were committed to creating an intergenerational show—our oldest artist is 80ish, the youngest is in their 20s—and including varied class and social backgrounds was important for reasons that shouldn’t need mentioning here, though these efforts were at times fraught and bound to be insufficient. I personally wish we could reach Vaginal Davis or Mark Bradford to join us; Ida Applbroog alas has passed, so we couldn’t reach them. Many of the artists are established to some degree, some are emerging, neither status is privileged here. In the end, this list represents the present limit of my ability to extend beyond my professional sphere, hard as I try.
As with any thematic exhibition my hope is that the concepts and feelings driving the threads of curation will serve as an opening up, not an enclosure of the work, giving rise to unexpected connections while letting each artist’s special urgency be felt. A theme can be a trap, but it is a trap that holds enticing, potent risks—which is better than no risks. Most of all, I hope that this assembly of disparate subjectivities, practices, and polemics, offers a spectrum worthy of discussion.
The first working title for this show was ‘All about my Mother,’ and the second was ‘The Magna Mater Problem.’ Not only did these too forcefully impose a point of reference or rubric onto the work, but I started to think about how rooted some of my language and thinking are in being a ’90s lesbian steeped in post- structuralist critique—a personal history I’m proud of, but which felt insufficient as an approach to the actual artists and their works. I came to see it as a haunted theoretical stance.
So, rather than an interpretive lens, I invite you to see the concept of Mother as a hyperlink, a glowing point of entry into these works. Or, to dip back into the haunted fray and borrow from Benjamin, a monad.
Image: Brenda Goodman, Self Portrait 13, 36 x 50 inches, oil on wood, 2005.