September 14, 2020

Jessi Reaves Named Fall 2020 Teiger Mentor in the Arts

Red II table (2019), laminated glass, plywood, wood, Barcelona chair, polyeurethane foam, fabric, paint, hardware,  301/2" × 138" × 135 ." photo / Gregory Carideo,  © Jessi Reaves, courtesy of the artist and Bridget Donahue, NYC

The Department of Art has named New York City–based artist Jessi Reaves as the Teiger Mentor in the Arts for the Fall 2020 semester. Reaves's practice centers primarily around sculpture that offers viewers close encounters with idiosyncrasy, playing with familiar forms and furniture as a means of "rupturing traditional binaries of the functional and the aesthetic."

"I first encountered Jessi's work a few years back at Bridget Donahue's Chinatown gallery, where I had that all-too-rare experience seeing brand new work: Jessi's strangely fantastic rethinkings of sculpture via furniture, and vice versa, were a total 'up' to look at, during a very down political and cultural stretch, and, invited an intensely physical, bodily relationship to the old-school, 360-degree satisfactions of sculpture," recalled Linda Norden, a regular visiting critic in art both in Ithaca and AAP NYC. "When Jessi became one of Donahue's 'Little Exploding Stars' just a year later, as a featured artist in the 2017 Whitney Biennial, it felt like she'd invented a new medium through her visceral, 'live' imaginary — it's something she's sustained as I've continued to seek out her work at other galleries and museums since." 

Walking up was getting into discipline, nyc stick shelf (2019), metal, plexiglass, sawdust, wood glue, plastic, nyc stick, fabric and zippers, 681/2" × 99" × 32".  photo / Gregory Carideo, © Jessi Reaves, courtesy of the artist and Bridget Donahue, NYC

Each semester, the art department appoints an established artist mentor who plays an important role in the development of student art practices in AAP's M.F.A. and B.F.A. programs. Students have an opportunity to discuss their work and receive critical insight from the artist who brings their experience and perspectives from their practice and profession into the studio.

"When I first brought up her work to M.F.A. and undergrad students as a possible Teiger fellow, I was surprised and delighted to learn how many of them knew her work and wanted her to visit Cornell, " added Norden, who is a member of the Teiger Mentor hiring committee. "Seeing her work, later that term, on a visit with both groups to the Carnegie International intensified that response. And when I got only positive recommendations from people who know Jessi well, I had the distinct impression that she could also be an amazing teacher in the studio for her precise understanding of both form and function, and her ability to create new relationships between furniture and familiar objects that, without intervention, remain all too recognizable."  

Reaves will meet with individual students remotely this fall, and give a virtual artist talk on September 28 where she will discuss her recent work and process that, according to curator Antonia Marsh, “playfully distorts the fixed designs of her predecessors into irrational, achingly absurdist, and borderline surreal sculptures.” 

The Teiger Mentor in the Arts Program was created with a gift from David Teiger '51, a graduate of the School of Hotel Administration. Teiger, who died in December 2014, was a contemporary art collector and patron of curatorial projects and exhibitions throughout the U.S. and Europe. Reaves is the 15th Teiger Mentor to date. Previous mentors were Josh Tonsfeldt, Wendy White, Chitra Ganesh, Paul Pfeiffer, Sam Lewitt, Dana Hoey, Sean Landers, Craig Kalpakjian, Sam Durant, Sharon Hayes, Leslie Hewitt, Alejandro Cesarco, Shannon Ebner, and Josiah McElheny.  

By Edith Fikes

AAP Communications
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