Saturday, September 24, 2022

Art Making Purgatory

Larry Wolf, Transient Utopias (2022)

Printing t-shirts has become an exhausting challenge - logistically, technically and emotionally - much more than I imaged it would be. The phone photo looks more like what I want than the actual t-shirt. Learning. Learning. Learning. 

Monday, July 25, 2022


Larry Wolf, Transient Utopias (2022)

I'm working on a silkscreen for a black t-shirt. The source images include two photos taken on/from the Metra Electric platform at 51st, an image from the JWST a million miles away; the text is inspired by an essay in Ten Years of Chances Dances (a queer party that spanned ten years and resulted in a catalog which I came across this week)... the essay by John Neff and Lorelei Stewart references a quote from Chances: "temporary utopias are time machines"... which is kind of fascinating.

I hear echoes of an essay by Ocean Vuong about fire escapes as a place where we have necessary and challenging conversations. The font is Be Oakley's Act Up Protest font... and it's all a riff on the art of queer failure... or the queer art of failure... or the failed queer agenda... or ??? ;-)

There's a further personal commentary about the fracturing of visions for a better future, the ground becoming unstable as institutions fail and the ripples that each of us makes as we walk through our lives. It's all transient. This is the third or fourth iteration. 

For now, no t-shirts, though several very nice prints on black paper. Pretty good for a first time ;-)

Larry Wolf, Transient Utopias (2022, silkscreen)

Larry Wolf, Transient Utopias (2022)

Larry Wolf, Transient Utopias (2022)

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Filter Members Exhibition 2022

I submitted this work to V: the Annual Filter Members Exhibition

Larry Wolf, Washington University Track 1946 (2022)

Six hurdlers are all airborne in a photo by my father from 1946. Each athlete, or in one case, three of them, has been cropped from the full image and printed individually. Each sheet can be folded into a hyperbolic paraboloid, informally called a hypar, a surprisingly curved shape constructed from nested squares. Here the hypars are suspended, moving with the air currents.

This work continues my interest in how photographs incorporate time, the moment of exposure with the athletes all in the air, the moments of viewing – the photographer’s and subjects’ now, the viewers' now, the artist as an intermediary time machine.

The source photograph was found recently with other slides from 1946 to 1957 – a lost family archive found as we emptied my deceased mother's apartment, a survivor of a nasty divorce. My father spoke with longing for his student days at W. U. – the image exudes youthful energy years after his death – as desaturated images, the people become ghosts in the light and dark of the hypar’s folds.

Like my other works, these are single sheets of paper, folded according to a set of rules that creates a three-dimensional object. Folding adds human touch to mechanical reproduction. Copies of the work are available for the viewer to take. The act of folding is centering, requiring patience, attention and caring, allowing the form to emerge. It invites the audience into an active intimacy, participating in creating the work.

For more info, see my page DIY SIP Hypar Zine.

Sunday, July 10, 2022

House Divided

Bruce Nauman, House Divided (1983)
Photo Larry Wolf (2022)

Bruce Nauman, House Divided (1983)
Photo Larry Wolf (2022)

Nauman draws on his roots for the form of this sculpture, a large white building typical of Midwestern farming sheds. Yet inside, the structure has been divided in half, diagonally. The carefully considered placement of three entries creates an uncomfortable space with no corners. Fully half of the structure has been rendered useless. 

Dick Burd,
Construction of House Divided (1984)
CARLI Digital Collection

By associating the piece through its title with Abraham Lincoln’s House Divided speech, the artist forces a consideration of the significance of this unassuming work on a new level.

Governors State University

Tuesday, June 28, 2022


At the edge of the Atlantic, a slip of land, open ocean all the way to the horizon and beyond, as fragile as a sand castle between high tides. Paths through the underbrush of a gay cruising ground, seeking to find and to be found in the safety of invisibility. 

Larry Wolf, Fire Island (2004)

Larry Wolf, Fire Island (2004)

Larry Wolf, Fire Island (2004)

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Desire Lines - The Gaps

 ... the gaps -- the information that is absent, overlooked, or rendered invisible ...  Igshaan Adams

Larry Wolf,
Desire Lines Exhibition Catalog
on display in the Art Institute Gift Shop

What is the artist's desire? 

In the exhibition, Desire Lines, there is a richness of layering

woven surfaces with depth of material

manufactured surfaces worn through the activity of lives lived

geographies traversed one step at a time across terrain with no official path

structures draped in fabric

the work of teams sharing meals, sharing stories, sharing their lives

the visual echos of clouds of dust 

the placement of works in an exhibition 

It is all abstract except for two roses at opposite ends of the gallery, facing each other, an early bloom and a later bloom, symbols of the divine present in our lives, a reminder of the thorns present with beauty.

Knowing Everything or Nothing 

How would you treat someone differently if you knew everything about them? Or nothing?  Igshaan Adams

The exhibition catalogue is explosive in its specifics where the exhibition leaves so much unnamed. 

It overflows with the words of queer artists, beginning and ending with poems by Ocean Vuong. The opening essay  A World, Revealed identifies the artist as a queer Muslim man. The acknowledgments thank his life partner. There is an essay by a queer imam. And more. 

What do we know of the lives of these people? What are their specific joys and fears? What lines do they make across the landscape of their lives? Of our lives?

Visible and Hidden

Does it matter that we put labels on ourselves? On other people? Does it matter how the artist lives or only how the art lands in us, the viewer, the museum goer, the art collector? Do the wall texts and catalogue essays enrich the experience? Or take us away from the experience?

Does the artist,  the contributing writers, curators, put their lives at risk by being public? Are they being honored by this visibility? Do they have freedom in the world of the exhibition that they do not have at home?

Igshaan Adams, I was a hidden treasure, then I wanted to be known ... (2016)
at the Minneapolis Institute of Art

This work emerges from two questions I faced earlier in my career: How do I represent myself (a metaphorical and also literal concern, as I am a Muslim and Islam's visual tradition prohibits figuration)? And what is the role of creativity in my practice? The analogy of water came to me, especially how, over time, dripping water brings forth moss, which grows and expands. This is how creativity operates, too. Everything is connected to and emerges from its energy. You cannot remove yourself from it, whether it's making a sandwich, putting together an outfit, or producing an artwork. I approached this work through that analogy of water and moss and started to visualize the creation process that surrounds us all through the texture of landscape.
Igshaan Adams, 
I was a hidden treasure, then I wanted to be known, 
Art Institute of Chicago exhibition text (2022)

The Exhibition

The Exhibition Catalogue