An Empty Vase, 2011

Jenny Heishman & Matthew Offenbacher: An Empty Vase, 2011; foam, tape, wood, paper, fabric, paint, wire, glue, drywall mud, plastic, sand, and artwork

“Can one be both enthusiastic and masterful?” Johanna Burton asked in an essay a few years back. We believe the answer is: “yes!”... and also “yes!” ... and “yes!” to a whole bunch of related and seemingly intractable questions. For example: can you occupy both the center and the margin? Can you make the scene and be a spectator?

Burton recounts the apocryphal story of Ruth Kjar, from Lacan’s seminar “On creation ex nihilo.” Briefly: Kjar suffered from depression, “an empty space inside her, a space she could never fill.” Her brother-in-law, a well-regarded painter, asked if he might store some unsold paintings by hanging them in Kjar’s apartment.

Kjar agreed and enjoyed living with the paintings. One day, however, the brother-in-law sold a painting. He came and removed it, leaving a large empty space on the wall. Kjar, depressed by this absence, found a brush and some paint and (never having done this before), began to “daub a little” directly on the wall. From her inexperience and enthusiasm emerged a work of art which everyone agreed somehow exceeded her brother-in law’s. “Kjar’s enthusiasm,” writes Burton, drove her to “not only create, but to create impossibly, masterfully, originally.”

A special inaugural exhibition for Prole Drift gallery, Seattle.

Made in collaboration with Jenny Heishman, and including work by Gretchen Bennett, Buddy Bunting, Tim Cross, Nicholas Nyland, and Chauney Peck.