Bitchen

Katie Pell

Exhibition: Nov 16, 2006 – Jan 14, 2007


With Bitchen, Katie Pell has depicted a parallel universe in which women use their disposable income to customize domestic appliances with the competitive zeal of their male counterparts: car fanatics.

An editioned comic book on view in the gallery tells the story. Its seventeen pen, ink, and colored pencil pages follow a group of women who win a class action lawsuit against a major discount retailer and use their small windfall to begin a custom appliance enterprise. The machines eventually become a mainstream phenomenon and ultimately benefit the big box store whose discrimination helped them come into being.

An installation of objects illustrates the narrative. A smoldering purple stove emblazoned with the show’s title spits flames with the flip of a switch; the interior of a candy-colored dryer is tricked out with plush leopard print upholstery and a crystal display that operates on slow rotation; a stand-up freezer is faced with burnt wood murals of deer in love and decked out with a custom knotty pine interior and chandelier. Like hotrod slogans that suggest the creed of the owner, several chromed-out toasters are engraved with a cursive “Love” and “Hate,” a duality that expresses the passion of these everyday ladies.

While the appliances are activated only during staged demonstrations, altered digital portraits show women living with their personalized products. Projected on a wall is video footage of the objects on display at a local car show, where they won second place in the orphan category.

Pell’s Bitchen shares the tale of a motley crew of mothers, sisters, conservatives, and liberals who, unfazed by norms and the imbalanced emphasis on male-defined recreation, just do.

-Kate Green

Artist

Katie Pell

San Antonio, Texas, USA

Through exuberant drawing, performance projects, and comic books, Katie Pell celebrates vernacular traditions, presenting a world without taboos or boundaries—one where anything is possible for those who go beyond given conditions and, just as Sol LeWitt famously stated, “do.” Her works irreverently explore personal, gender, and cultural identity, as well as the potential for greatness in everyone.
Katie Pell was born in Wilmington, Delaware, in 1965 and currently lives in San Antonio, TX. She received a BFA from Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, Rhode Island, in 1987. She has had solo exhibitions at Cactus Bra Space (2004), Parchman Stremmel Gallery (2003), and Southwest School of Art & Craft (2002), all in San Antonio, Texas. Her work has been included in exhibitions such as Altoids Curiously Strong Collection, New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York (2006); Tiny Acts of Immeasurable Benefit, Women & Their Work, Austin, Texas (2008); and Drawing in San Antonio: Works by Contemporary Area Artists, McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, Texas (2002).

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Curator

Tom Eccles

New York, NY

Tom Eccles is the Executive Director of Bard College’s Center for Curatorial Studies. Prior to that appointment, Eccles served as Director of the Public Art Fund, New York, NY since 1996. While at the Public Art Fund, Eccles defined new directions for the creation and installation of contemporary art in public spaces, organizing engaging exhibitions with artists such as Vito Acconci, Mark Dion, Christine Hill, Kim Sooja, Olav Westphalen, and former Artpace residents Teresita Fernández and Paul Pfeiffer. Eccles holds an MA in Philosophy and Italian from the University of Glasgow in Scotland and has lectured at colleges and universities throughout the United States.

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