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Work Samples

The Gun Show: AiOP RACE Event

This documentation of the Art in Odd Places RACE Event installation of the Gun Show on October 8th, 2016 presents a sampling of portraits of individuals who interacted with the project. Art in Odd Places is a non-profit arts organization in NYC that stretches the boundaries of traditional art space and hosts an annual arts festival on 14th Street to support visual and performing artists invested in socially engaged arts. This year's theme was centered on RACE.

Whetstone Boogie

Whetstone Boogie. Whetstones, wood, and steel, 18” X 78” X 4”, 2016.

Homophone

Homophone. Stainless steel, 35' x 10' x 10', 2012.

Inertia Study

Inertia Study, Merganthaler High School, Baltimore, Maryland. Stainless Steel, each of the five Elements is 10'x 10'x 4', 2002

Gun Show

Three years ago, amid the daily headlines of mass shootings and gun violence, I began building an arsenal of 100 mock assault rifles. This body of work is my personal awakening and response to the American obsession with weaponry and the abstraction of violence. My practice has led me deep into one of the most polarizing social, political, and public health challenges of our times: the debate over gun ownership as a means to curbing gun violence. As one delves into the issue, the quagmire quickly spirals into issues of race, gender, and class. At the core of this discussion lies a preoccupation with fear and control.

I am invested in an unconventional examination of the American obsession with such tools of violence. The pieces are placed on canvas tarps in rows and viewers are encouraged to walk between them. By allowing some viewers to “try on” the guns, the installation provokes a wide arc of reactions ranging from humorous and entertaining to tragic and confessional. The bodily, tactile, and psychic experience of this work allegorically addresses the abstraction of war and the monumentality of modern day violence. The myth of mechanized warfare has inspired an imaginary detachment from violence. However, as amalgamations of industrial and household detritus, each rifle is built from materials that create the foundations and infrastructures of our modern lives. The guns have a visceral calculus and purpose; they reference the systematic ingenuity that goes into creating weapons of our own destruction. As we attempt to untangle the contentious debate over the lethality of our possession of over 310 million guns, it is necessary to confront the brutality of our contemporary gun violence and how it has infiltrated all of our domestic spaces. I aim to tease out the realities that are obscured by such abstractions.

I reject polarized conversations. My mission is to integrate this arsenal into the mainstream public consciousness as a springboard for political and social dialogue – to provoke interdisciplinary conversation, heighten outrage, and perhaps alter the course of the tragedy of gun violence.

For more information visit our website http://www.hessgunshow.com/ or check out our Instagram @hessgunshow

  • Mock Assault Rifle 0060-0013-004

    Mock Assault Rifle 0060-0013-004 (1 of 100). Mixed media, 18” X 29.5”, 2014.
  • Mock Assault Rifle 0029-0014-003

    Mock Assault Rifle 0029-0014-003 (1 of 100). Mixed media, 15.5" X 34", 2014.
  • Mock Assault Rifle 0010-0013-006

    Mock Assault Rifle 0010-0013-006 (1 of 100). Mixed media, 15” X 38”, 2013.
  • Gun Show, installation view

    Gun Show, installation view, Washington College, Chestertown, MD. Mixed media, dimensions variable, February 2015.
  • Gun Show, installation view

    Gun Show, installation view, Art in Odd Places: RACE Event, 14th Street and 5th Ave, New York, NY. Mixed media, dimensions variable, October 2016.
  • The Gun Show: AiOP RACE Event

    This documentation of the Art in Odd Places RACE Event installation of the Gun Show on October 8th, 2016 presents a sampling of portraits of individuals who interacted with the project. Art in Odd Places is a non-profit arts organization in NYC that stretches the boundaries of traditional art space and hosts an annual arts festival on 14th Street to support visual and performing artists invested in socially engaged arts. This year's theme was centered on RACE.
  • Gun Show, viewer participation

    Gun Show, viewer participation, Art in Odd Places: RACE Event, 14th Street and 5th Ave, New York, NY, October 2016. Photo by Kei Ito.
  • Gun Show, viewer participation

    Gun Show, viewer participation, Art in Odd Places: RACE Event, 14th Street and 5th Ave, New York, NY, October 2016. Photo by Kei Ito.
  • Gun Show, viewer participation

    Gun Show, viewer participation, Art in Odd Places: RACE Event, 14th Street and 5th Ave, New York, NY, October 2016. Photo by Kei Ito.

GENERATIONS

Project 1628 presents GENERATIONS, an exhibition of furniture and sculpture constructed by the father-son artist pair David and Eli Hess. Generated through their collaborative process, this body of work is a product of their changing relationship and layered histories, which reveal their shared and disparate work practices and aesthetics. The work itself emerges from an amalgamation of weathered objects – pieces once discarded, later rescued, and then stored, only to be rebirthed and incorporated in a new form. These artifacts are part of an obsessive and ever-growing collection of memorabilia. From the depths of the Hesses’ nostalgic trove, this exhibition represents the catharsis of excavating and revisiting forgotten treasures.

Both process and materiality are central to this body of work. Their sentimentality to material is inherited from their fathers, grandfathers and mentors. This work is the outcome of a specific “spontaneous moment” as the recent graduate, Eli Hess, reconsiders his position shifting from working “for” to working “with” his father. David Hess’s artistic practice utilizes a vocabulary of antiquated objects. Invested in the physical and social existence of the human body, David continually produces works that are activated within the parameters of human scale. In turn, his negotiations with materials uncover their past lives and implicit memories. As Eli has been working alongside his father in the studio since age 5, this methodology and aesthetic has been coded into his artistic inclinations. However, as an architect Eli holds onto practicality and utility.

The shifting considerations of functionality and historiography inform the construction of these pieces. The tall vertical stratigraphy of STACK is the result of a playful procedure. Built continuously alongside all other works in this exhibition, STACK is an accumulation of 182 layers of found materials which Eli and David took turns collecting, cutting, drilling and attaching. Their additive process rejects revision and relies on intuitive progression to complete the composition. Their methodology of accumulation varies from procedural to sentimental. Whetstone Boogie is a meticulously composed collection of old whetstones and their wooden boxes. These salvaged sharpening tools contain a history of craftsmanship and manual labor. Additionally, they also resonate a remembrance of the artists’ mentor, the late Dave Klein, from whom they were acquired. The whetstones dance and shift along a horizontal axis; their movement is unpredictable and improvisational; the work accepts variation and encourages permutations.

The Hesses’ two-piece installation Lancaster, PA is Downwind from Duxbury, MA; Captain George “Mike” Butler and J. Richard “George” Gaintner explores distance, history, and memory. As one is hung on the wall and the other on the floor, the viewer is invited to enter their spatial dialogue. A fan rests on a wooden post from David Hess’s barn and is anchored by a buoy from Eli’s maternal great grandfather’s lobster traps in Massachusetts. The wind from the fan blows across the viewer’s face but has no effect on the rocking chair, which is framed and frozen in time. The Pennsylvania Dutch rocking chair, which recalls the heritage of Eli’s other maternal great grandfather, is a treasure that came into the Hesses’ possession through a classic, but circuitous route. Found on the road by Eli, it was brought home only to be discarded once again when it appeared to be broken. The chair reappeared in the Hesses’ studio, after David had salvaged it from their trash. This process of revision allows for the revival of objects and their historical resonance. These artifacts reemerge and continually influence our contemporary social spaces.

While many of the works activate the historical memory of their materials, Neuro-Cartography Lesson is a schematic of ideation and dialogue. The classic infrastructure of a rigid, rusty, and rudimentary steel grid is disrupted by interweaving tendrils of green patinated copper. The organic movements escape the confines of the calculated steel lines. Woven through, these tendrils plot their own pathways – constantly intersecting and diverging to fill the space. These spontaneous, somewhat chaotic gestures compose the learning space of the blackboard structure. Progression and growth are a product of accumulated movements that are constantly in flux. This form of modularity informs the large wall installation, Inheritance. A conglomeration of unearthed trunks, drawers, and boxes create niches filled with tools of instruction and investigation. These pieces playfully tease out complex social and psychological phenomenon. Free linguistic and cognitive associations are scrawled on the blackboard background, questioning the development of our knowledge making systems – those that we have inherited and those we continue to create.

GENERATIONS encapsulates themes of history, memory, and progression, to investigate inheritance both nostalgically and scientifically. The Hesses’ practices and aesthetics engage and reactivate the social and physical memory of materials. As the first truly collaborative collection of work, this exhibition reflects on their inherited ideologies – those that have endured and those that have evolved – and ultimately establishes a new era for the father-son pair as colleagues and partners.


- Sreyashi Tinni Bhattacharyya

  • Whetstone Boogie

    Whetstone Boogie. Whetstones, wood, and steel, 18” X 78” X 4”, 2016.
  • J. Richard “George” Gaintner

    J. Richard “George” Gaintner. Wood, 80” X 36” X 6”, 2016.
  • Captain George “Mike” Butler

    Captain George “Mike” Butler. Wood, steel, and cast iron, 114” X 18” X 26”, 2016.
  • Brother Truckers

    Brother Truckers (Reconstruction series). Steel and rubber, 72” X 18” X 48”, 2016.
  • George’s Procurement System

    George’s Procurement System. Steel, wood, copper, and paper, 28” X 36” X 62”, 2016.
  • STACK

    STACK. Steel, stone, wood, glass, plastic, paper, textile, etc., 110” X 14” X 14”, 2016.
  • Neuro-Cartography Lesson

    Neuro-Cartography Lesson. Steel, copper, wood, and rubber, 72” X 84” X 36”, 2016.
  • Bob the Plumber

    Bob the Plumber. Steel, nylon, and brass, 108” X 48” X 24”, 2016.

Reconstruction Series

The “Reconstruction” series investigates the materials and metaphors of labor through public art, private sculptural and object-painting works. In 2008, I began revisiting my boyhood obsession with trucks and construction equipment. The series ranges from small-scale gallery pieces to two large public art installations. I have tried to transform the image of innocence of a child playing with toys into a larger, more complex subject.

My object-painting, “Crane” (2007) plays with dimensionality and studies the architectural process of translating planar blueprints into actual physical spaces. The existing painting on the rescued wooden plane suggests an architectural form; the toy truck romantically alludes to its realization. This nostalgic, but playful work, addresses themes of childhood, inheritance, and labor. The themes addressed in small domestic and gallery spaces radiate outwards and manifest in monumental public artworks. For example, “Service Road” (2013) stands at the entrance to the Rockville Public Services facility and pays tribute to the hard-working men and women that maintain the City’s Public Parks, Buildings, and Roads. This body of work ultimately studies how we imagine and construct our communities.

Public Sculpture (Part 1)

In the past 30 years, I have had the honor of designing site-specific projects for both public and private spaces. I produce works that are only activated within the parameters of human scale. My research on the memory and materiality of materials and spaces approaches each project as an opportunity for wayfinding, placemaking, and storytelling. Wayfinding presents the opportunity for citizens to purposefully drift around the space, reflect outwards and inwards, and contextualize themselves within their natural social and physical landscape. In turn, placemaking presents the opportunity to re-imagine the purpose and utility of a space from being vacant and static, to becoming a lively hub for community interaction and development. I believe this practice should be democratic and should incorporate the materiality and themes already exhibited in its social landscape. My public art practice does not exist in a vacuum; it addresses the complex fabric into which it is sewn. Therefore, an artwork of this nature is reflective of the cultural composition of the institution it serves.

My expansive public art practice has historically been concerned with creating permanent, monumental spaces that are enlivened by their visitors. Each public art project strives to incorporate and enhance the social goals of its site. The large disks in “Inertia Study” simultaneously evoke a sense of momentum and progression, while also creating spaces for repose and reflection. Similarly, the shelter provided by “Pergola” creates a point of intersection and interchange; responding to the park’s request for a gathering space, the nest-like structure integrates itself into the park’s existing natural and social landscape, and creates a center for community building. Furthermore, “Homophone” at Pierce’s Park is animated by the passage of people in and around its tunnel. Sounding devices resonate as they are struck, and all the senses are stimulated within this park space. The audience is not only enveloped in, but actively participates in the creation of, a holistic bodily experience. Additionally, my most recent project and the inaugural sculpture in Chestertown’s Public Art Master Plan, “Broad Reach,” creates a dynamic playscape that fulfills the program’s desire for an interactive piece that catalyzes a relationship between the arts and the community.

Through my tenure in the public art sector, I have become familiar with the processes involved in following projects from conception to implementation. I use primarily materials that are highly durable and require little to no maintenance, including stone, stainless steel, and glass. I greatly enjoy the process of collaborating with other design professionals, including landscape architects, structural and civil engineers, lighting designers, and architects. I also work with professionals of nontraditional design backgrounds, such as historians, teachers, poets, biologists and doctors. Such collaborations enhance my understanding of the context and the finished project’s integration within its space.

  • Pergola

    2015 Germantowne Town Center stainless steel 16' x 80' x 80'
  • Pergola

    2015 Germantowne Town Center stainless steel 16' x 80' x 80'
  • Williams Crane

    2014 Glen Arm, Maryland stainless steel 24'x 6'x 8'
  • Boulder Stack

    2012 Columbia, Maryland stainless steel Model 52"x 48"x 30" Finished sulpture will be 26'x 30'x 35'
  • Interconnection

    2006 St. Louis, Missouri Stainless steel 12'x 14'x 12'
  • Connection

    2014 Baltimore, MD stainless steel 16' x 18' x 12'
  • Arbor

    2005 Mt. Vernon Children's Park, Baltimore, Maryland stainless steel 18' x 16' x 14'
  • Waterline

    2012 Canal Park Washington, D.C. stainless steel 16' x 18' x 14'
  • Waterline

    2012 Canal Park Washington, D.C. stainless steel 8' x 16' x 10'
  • Waterline

    2012 Canal Park Washington, D.C. stainless steel 9' x 14' x 10'

Public Sculpture (Part 2)

In the past 30 years, I have had the honor of designing site-specific projects for both public and private spaces. I produce works that are only activated within the parameters of human scale. My research on the memory and materiality of materials and spaces approaches each project as an opportunity for wayfinding, placemaking, and storytelling. Wayfinding presents the opportunity for citizens to purposefully drift around the space, reflect outwards and inwards, and contextualize themselves within their natural social and physical landscape. In turn, placemaking presents the opportunity to re-imagine the purpose and utility of a space from being vacant and static, to becoming a lively hub for community interaction and development. I believe this practice should be democratic and should incorporate the materiality and themes already exhibited in its social landscape. My public art practice does not exist in a vacuum; it addresses the complex fabric into which it is sewn. Therefore, an artwork of this nature is reflective of the cultural composition of the institution it serves.

My expansive public art practice has historically been concerned with creating permanent, monumental spaces that are enlivened by their visitors. Each public art project strives to incorporate and enhance the social goals of its site. The large disks in “Inertia Study” simultaneously evoke a sense of momentum and progression, while also creating spaces for repose and reflection. Similarly, the shelter provided by “Pergola” creates a point of intersection and interchange; responding to the park’s request for a gathering space, the nest-like structure integrates itself into the park’s existing natural and social landscape, and creates a center for community building. Furthermore, “Homophone” at Pierce’s Park is animated by the passage of people in and around its tunnel. Sounding devices resonate as they are struck, and all the senses are stimulated within this park space. The audience is not only enveloped in, but actively participates in the creation of, a holistic bodily experience. Additionally, my most recent project and the inaugural sculpture in Chestertown’s Public Art Master Plan, “Broad Reach,” creates a dynamic playscape that fulfills the program’s desire for an interactive piece that catalyzes a relationship between the arts and the community.

Through my tenure in the public art sector, I have become familiar with the processes involved in following projects from conception to implementation. I use primarily materials that are highly durable and require little to no maintenance, including stone, stainless steel, and glass. I greatly enjoy the process of collaborating with other design professionals, including landscape architects, structural and civil engineers, lighting designers, and architects. I also work with professionals of nontraditional design backgrounds, such as historians, teachers, poets, biologists and doctors. Such collaborations enhance my understanding of the context and the finished project’s integration within its space.

  • Service Road

    2014 Rockville, Maryland Steel and stainless steel 26'x 9'x 3'
  • Baltimore Passage

    2008 Baltimore, Maryland Copper 22'x 14'x 9'
  • Inertia Study

    Inertia Study, Merganthaler High School, Baltimore, Maryland. Stainless Steel, each of the five Elements is 10'x 10'x 4', 2002
  • Grove

    2002 Stainless steel 14'x 14'x 20'
  • Working Point

    1997 Baltimore Museum of Industry, Baltimore, Maryland cast iron, steel, concrete 35' x 40' x 40'
  • Working Point

    1997 Baltimore Museum of Industry, Baltimore, Maryland cast iron, steel, concrete 35' x 40' x 40'
  • Momentum Study

    2003 BWI Airport, Linthicum, Maryland steel, aluminum 196' x 60' x 20'
  • Momentum Study

    2003 BWI Airport, Linthicum, Maryland steel, aluminum 196' x 60' x 20'
  • Broad Reach (rendering)

    2017 Wilmer Park, Chestertown, MD Stainless steel 22’ X 30’ X 30’

Pierce's Park

Working with the Waterfront Partnership, designed large-scale public sculpture, musical instruments, railings, pavers, and signage in Pierce's Park, Baltimore, Maryland. The work creates a unified vision which allows children to explore literary, maritime, and musical themes.

Indoor Sculpture

Indoor Sculpture

American Visionary Art Museum

Various projects designed, built, and installed for the American Visionary Arts Museum in Baltimore, Maryland.

Architectural Enhancements

Architectural Enhancements

Furniture

Furniture

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About David

David Hess harvests contrasting forms and materials to create a collision between the man-made and natural worlds. Hess refers to these artifacts as “rescued objects,” suggesting that these materials are loaded with history and cultural narrative – making them not only worthy of salvage, but of... more

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