As We Learn to Speak As Prophets: An Essay by Tyler Kline on “Tunapu”, An Exhibit by Terra Fuller and Reuben Lorch-Miller at Grizzly Grizzly

This short essay was written by Tyler Kline in response to Terra Fuller and Reuben Lorch-Miller’s Grizzly Grizzly exhibition, Tunapu. Using Tunapu as a thematic map, Kline links concurrent exhibits at Automat, The Great Far Beyond, Hamilton Hall Public Art Initiative and Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery.

The title, Tunapu, refers to a term in Rukwangali culture describing the path from the creation of the world into the future, which is created by art. This focus on process, and the examination of the generative powers of art-making, is central to the work of both artists. Both Fuller and Lorch-Miller see their practice as a collaboration with time, place, and materials.

As We Learn to Speak As Prophets: Tunapu As Trail and Thread

View a pulsing and shimmering conformation, electric sugar blue shot through with streaks viridian and magenta plasma, framed by a shattered void. Behold a tangible future, one in which each of us has agency over if we hone our awareness and perception. A path tread by Gods and Monsters, Tunapu, the electric eel, the generative power of art to forge impenetrable tiles from unique human experiences and lay these tiles along a mosaic trail leading from a world of phantasms into a future animated by our yearnings.

Tunapu, the form the tide carves in glass, the scheme created by the freezing and dissipation of ice, the subterranean tusk growths of calcium. The prayer of the howling wind through the canyons of the cities of man, the face of Mother Moon, the painted turtle slipping beneath the quicksilver membrane of the gurgling creek, Tunapu.

Sister Spider wove an iridescent web so elegant all the heavenly bodies became fixed in her pattern, destined to spin and expand, but never break free of the centrifugal force, Tunapu. Sister Spider’s will is at play in the hands of Judith Scott, spinning yarns, nonverbal tales of the world eternal becoming and beginning, the gestalt of these stories echo down the chambers of myth, echo in the carpets of Terra Fuller and shine in pulsating rhythms from the totems of Reuben Lorch-Miller on view at Grizzly Grizzly’s November exhibition, Tunapu. Fullers textiles transcend the indigenous processes she has appropriated, they could be dispatches to extraterrestrial ethnographers or landing pads for rogue arch-angles. Lorch-Miller appropriates the gaze of the Golem, mute and totemic, Georg Buchner’s “the horrible screaming men usually call silence” locked into their impenetrable physiognomy. Lorch-Muller’s New Totem, a QR coded slacker Curry, whispers to Fuller’s The Birthing Mat, “We are all either busy being born or we are busy dying.” As sister spider plucks on the strands of her web the echoes reverberate, she transforms into Anansi, whose stories all cultures have appropriated, just as Lorch-Miller and Fuller appropriate narratives from Morocco and Oceania, weaving new tales to help explain our 21st conundrum; we remain earth bound but gaze ever closer to the stars.

The trail leads out the door, splits and the thread is picked up at Automat and the Great Far Beyond. Automat’s exhibition Perception, curated by Steve Basel, picks up the thread quite literally in the psychic artifacts of Jamey Hart. Harts work appears as if spun by filaments of the superego and lacquered with the saliva of the id. Down the hall at The Great Far Beyond, Matt Speedy and Bowen Schmitt present a dignified ruin, the cataloging and immaculate presentation of an ashtray.

Tunapu is solid bone on the earth now, rough hide and elbow grease. Tunapu gathers form and dances, spreads its eight arms, heels clicking juju gait down Broad St. The breath of life that gives movement to song and story crystalizes through condensation on Tom Bentsen’s Onward #4. A spectacle that usually derives its strength from stasis is transformed into an asymmetrical undulating talisman through the transitory melting and refreezing of ice. Across Broad Tristin Lowe’s Frosty nervously sits inert, beads of perspiration glisten on his silver brow, waiting for an atmosphere that will catalyze his transformation, seeking comfort in a granulated rime membrane. Tunapu laughs with the wind, these power objects create a fleeting pattern, urgent in their fragility and ephemeral nature; along the sidewalk sashays the Zeitgeist, wearing something lime green, orange, and tight while crooning, a soul on ice is better than being a hollow Jive Turkey any day.

Tyler Kline, 2016

Tyler Kline received his BA in Anthropology and Sculpture from Portland State University and a MFA in Installation and Sculpture from The Pennsylvania Academy of The Fine Arts. He is curator of the Hamilton Hall Public art initiative at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia and has curated shows at: Atlanta’s Moving Spirits Gallery, Portland’s Martial Arts Gallery, Zeitgeist and Disjecta, as well as Philadelphia’s Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and Little Berlin. A Strong believer in the power of Art to revitalize communities and bring about social change; he is fascinated by playing with the porous boundaries between painting, video, sculpture, performance, and printmaking.

Terra Fuller was born in rural Indiana and currently lives in San Francisco, California. She has an MFA from Yale University. Her multidisciplinary art has been influenced by extensive time living with indigenous cultures around the world. When living in Morocco and Namibia for almost 5 years, Terra began incorporating traditional craft like carpet weaving and basket weaving that involved processes such as shearing sheep, collecting camel wool from nomads, spinning and dying wool, and gathering palm fronds to create objects that embody the residue of her experiences. Terra has exhibited extensively on the east and west coast: Geography of Hope, Toby’s Feed Barn Gallery, Altered Again, Adobe Backroom Gallery, Fallen Cave Paintings: Mouhou, Touria and Zahra, Fort Point Arts Community, and House Beautiful, San Gabriel.

Reuben Lorch-Miller is a Brooklyn, NY based artist, writer and educator, with a dedicated studio practice and exhibition record spanning over 25 years. His broad approach to art making encompasses sculpture, photography, artist books, music, performance and long walks. Lorch-Miller was raised in the Pacific Northwest and studied at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, later earning an MFA in New Genres from San Francisco State University in 2001. Lorch-Miller has exhibited widely at such venues as Jackie Klempay Gallery (Brooklyn, NY), Frye Art Museum (Seattle, WA) and MoMA/PS1 (New York, NY). He has been an artist-in-residence at Land and Sea (Oakland, CA), Rocksbox (Portland, OR), SIM (Reykjavik, Iceland), The Shandaken Project (Shandken, NY), Headlands Center for the Arts (Sausalito, CA) and Bauernmark 9 (Vienna, Austria). His work is held in the collections of MOMA, The Tacoma Art Museum and Brooklyn Museum of Art.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s