Patrick Coughlin | Ryan McKerley's Studio

The purpose and value of “labor” in contemporary society has greatly shifted in last two decades. Information now exists at fingertips, yet as a culture we have collectively forgotten much. We live in an age of “scientific magic” where even the most basic processes of life are so removed from laymen understanding. Technology and globalization have created systems that make our perception and origin of material culture so opaque that we have lost the dignity and beauty of labor.

My studio practice is both elegy and ballad, depicting the hidden beauty and value in the knowledge of process, and the joy of committing it. The act of making becomes a baroque performance of my own heritage; working with dirt, tool and sweat of brow. Objects of material culture have a history of knowledge hidden within it’s: form, purpose, and workmanship. By exposing the disparate perceptions and hidden knowledge of the everyday objects of our life I am refocusing the question of the role and status of labor. The work acts as an aide-mémoire of the dignity and beauty of processes and techniques that have been easily usurped by the empty glamour and effortlessness of modernity.

Jennifer Datchuk _ Justin Donofrio _ Kirk Jackson _ Ben Jordan _ Beth Lo _ Renee LoPresti _ Ryan McKerley _ Melissa Mencini _ Lisa Orr _ Scott Proctor _ Claudia Reese _ Matthew Schiemann _ Keith Simpson _ James Tingey

funded and supported in part by the City of Austin through the Cultural Arts Division and by a grant from the Texas Commission on the Arts and an award from the National Endowment for the Arts