Sweet Pass Sculpture School
Opening: May 14, 2022
The Texas Blackland Prairie—the ecoregion where Dallas is located—is the most endangered large ecosystem in North America (currently, less than 1% remains). Sweet Pass Sculpture School artists conducted a broad survey of this lost prairie, exploring remnant parcels in the Clymer Meadow and Frankford Church and the manufactured prairie of the GW Bush library. They examined how Dallas' construction has shaped its surrounding ecology and how the city and natures incorporation into its tangled mass. The works presented respond to this contemporary environment, ranging from self-contained sculptural objects to landscape interventions and movement-based performance video.
In prairie landscapes, bottomlands appear as depressions in the earth, sunken and soggy places sitting at a river's edge. The artists in Sculpture School found home in that metaphor, sinking their toes into the mire of the overlooked, unseen, and unloved. Physically and metaphorically mining the landscape, the artists in Bottomland present alternative understandings of the local, from monuments to native flora. Formal aspects of the show draw on extractive and additive methods used in the construction of the built environment, redefining topographies, installing announcement systems, and placing signage to direct traffic through the space. Performing burned prairie as spiritual rebirth, hybridizing gilgai as cardinal directors, and highlighting the mechanized maintenance of designed landscapes, the works interweave with the park to create a complex ecology of collective inquiry.
“We started this project as an experiment, as a trust fall with this group of artists,” says Sweet Pass Co-founder Tamara Johnson. “We organized a 300-page Dallas primer, rented a church van, and made a packed itinerary. We got on a roller coaster ride with this amazing group of people who became a community very quickly. We explored a place that doesn’t even really seem to exist, but together, we started to create a sense of it and found a new prairie, finding its edges, finding its shape. I think that’s really what this show is about: it's about creating a collective mapping and a shared meaning.”
SCULPTURE SCHOOL ARTISTS
Alfonso currently lives and works in South Florida. Unseen work and the exercise of emotional control are central to Alfonso's practice. The qualities of invisibility and visibility become the foundations from which she develops drawings, installations, performances, and videos.. Alfonso holds a Master's Degree in Fine Arts from Southern Methodist University, Dallas TX, and a Bachelor in Fine Arts from Florida International University, Miami FL. Alfonso has exhibited and performed her work in galleries, universities, and public spaces, such as NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale, Dimensions Variable, Spinello Projects, Art and Culture Center Hollywood, The Projects – Fat Village, Sweet Pass Sculpture Park, Marymount University. Alfonso received the South Florida Cultural Consortium (SFCC) 19/20.
Oliveros Amaya has exhibited her work in Colombia, the US, and recently in Ecuador. In 2021 Susana was selected to participate in the Banff Emerging Visual Arts Residency and Nave Residency. She has been recipient of the Scholarship for Emerging Artists (COL., 2018), the Sylvia Leslie Young Scholarship and RISD Fellowship (2018-20), and the RISD Graduate Commons Grant (2020). She holds a MFA from Rhode Island School of Design (RI, US) and received a BA in Art, Minor in Literature and a BA in Art History from Universidad de los Andes (Bog. COL).
Clark, is a Dallas-based artist creating performances and videos that draw inspiration from the movement and sounds of black culture in the south. Originally a studio trained dancer, she is focused on re-evaluating the artist-audience relationship and blurring lines between the and is invested in creating work that is only ever in and of the present moment. She is currently working towards her BFA in New Media Arts and the University of North Texas in Denton, TX.
Dunne is a Brooklyn, NY based artist working in sculpture and drawing. He received his BFA from Hunter College in 2019. He has exhibited at The Walter Elwood Museum, 601 Artspace, P.A.D., and Dorsa Brevia. He was once moved to tears at a gay bar by the sight of an AC unit covered in tinsel.
Lee is a chinese-american artist, writer, and organizer based in Austin. Lee’s work investigates form’s relationship to time, public space, and social activism. Lee earned a BA in Art History Honors, a BFA in Studio Art, and a certificate in Museum Studies at the University of Texas at Austin after completing a gap year at the Marchutz School of Fine Arts in France. Lee is a founder of All the Sudden, a DIY project space in Austin hosting experiments in visual art, music, performance, and community work. She has exhibited her work in Texas and NYC, and she has co-curated outdoor exhibitions in Austin for Northern-Southern Gallery, Co-Lab Projects, and All the Sudden. Lee has been awarded the Roy Crane Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Arts, the Rhodes Endowed Presidential Scholarship in Art, and The Creative Future of Texas Fund’s Microgrant. Her essay, Place Versions, has been published by French & Michigan.
Schlumberger holds an MFA from California College of the Arts in Social Practice and a BFA from Tufts University in conjunction with the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Her experience as an immigrant informs work that deals with translation and the bridging of human connectivity over physical distance. Her sculptural works, sometimes interactive and sometimes reliant on visual metaphors, are often made in common building materials, and many are like stages anticipating their performers; their potential is realized when people use and activate them. Recently Hélène has focused on a series of holes, focusing on their metaphorical potential, and making small, intuitive sculptures mostly from scrap materials. These more immediate works consider small gestures and their psychological, interior impacts. Her work extends to a long-running collaborative practice with her wife Elizabeth Eicher where the duo explores power dynamics, ideas of time and effort, and the embodiment of social roles.
PRESENTERS & LECTURERS
Produced for Sweet pass Sculpture School, the Sculpture School Reader (290 pages) was developed as a primer on the regional landscape and built environments that surround, hold, and penetrate Sweet Pass Sculpture Park. The reader is not intended as a complete portrait, or even an exceptionally coherent one, but more of a collage which aims to gather up some high level starting points for Dallas history (from the trivial to the problematic), site responsive sculpture theory, and the Texas Blackland Prairie.
Sweet Pass Sculpture Park is a 501(c)(3) non-profit arts organization which provides space and support for experimental and large-scale outdoor projects by a diverse set of contemporary voices. Sculpture School was launched in 2021 as an alternative exhibition project to support deeper relationships between artists and site. The first SPSS consisted of a two-week site intensive, a yearlong remote mentorship for research and project development, and a concluding collective exhibition at Sweet Pass Sculpture Park. Structured like a low-residency education program, SPSS focuses on site responsiveness and reflecting connections to the surrounding region and communities. Sculpture School aligns with Sweet Pass’s mission of providing production stipends, professional development, fabrication support, and critical feedback for artists outside of a commercial context.