Farm to Market

Robert Pruitt, Chris Sauter, Allison Wiese

Exhibition: Oct 28, 2004 – Jan 23, 2005

Traveling from country to city, any driver of American roads has no doubt passed a sign reading FM—Farm to Market. Such fluid paths between rural and urban space serve as the departure for this exhibition. It presents recent works by three Texans—Robert Pruitt, Chris Sauter, and Allison Wiese—who alternately employ sculpture, collage, photography, and architectural interventions to explore similarities and mythic differences between the two locales these roads connect.

Robert Pruitt uses found objects and materials—Norman Rockwell prints, crack vials, hair extensions—to question the perceived gap between suburban and urban culture. Through insertions, deletions, and juxtapositions, he rewrites traditional notions of our past and present landscape.

Included in this exhibition are examples from Pruitt’s series reworking Norman Rockwell’s ubiquitous depictions of a culturally and spatially divided society. In New Kiddz in the Hood the artist toys with the classic image of just-moved-in African-American youngsters warily meeting their new white neighbors. Using digital manipulation, Pruitt graffities the moving van with REVOLT and places the album Fear of a Black Planet on a nearby chair. As in other works, such as his ante-bellum Chandelier, fashioned out of crack vials, Pruitt’s gesture of dislocation powerfully alters the expected scenario and puts pressure on the cultural disparity tethered to geographic boundaries.

Chris Sauter is known for reconfiguring suburban furniture into landscapes (a recliner turned mountain) and excising galleries to create ghostly Americana (dry wall turned
farmer’s plow). Sauter explores the relationship between nature and culture— two realms often locked into rural and urban domains.

Sauter continues to question the connection, literally and figuratively, between country and city with Power Lines, a scaled-down series of electrical towers constructed of shafts of wheat. Another work locates a volcano, grain silos, a construction site, and city skyline all in a single plane. Sauter collides disparate worlds to suggest that technology/culture is built upon land/nature, and that the two must partner in order to coexist.

Similarly, Allison Wiese inserts elements traditionally associated with country living into metropolitan spaces. She has built an old-fashioned portico onto the façade of a modernist building and brought a flock of sheep to graze in the city. Wiese’s works propose that rural and urban, often seen as opposing, have essential common denominators and are closer than frequently believed.

In Fort two picnic tables, a quintessential urban-meets-rural signifier, are propped up to create impromptu protection, as well as a pine cone-strewn social space. The sight recalls picnics past but not those in the wilderness. These lunches were in city parks or at roadside rest stops—places neither entirely rural nor urban. Coupled with Wiese’s large-scale photo of a paintball in an exurban field and her homemade whisky still made out of superstore parts, the piece reminds that there is no clear boundary dividing rural/nature from urban/culture, but rather pockets of in-between and mingling.

The works by Robert Pruitt, Chris Sauter, and Allison Wiese in Farm to Market describe the interlinked spheres of rural and urban space. The artists challenge the assumed dichotomy between country and city, thereby romanticizing neither and acknowledging the complicated exchange of ideas and identities between the two.


Robert Pruitt

Houston, Texas, USA

Robert Pruitt’s installations and sculptures deconstruct culturally charged material to explore the traditions that give them power. His works appropriate and transform disparate objects, such as Norman Rockwell prints, crack vials, and hair extensions, to raise questions about representations of African-American identity. Highlighting, and perhaps bridging, the gap between dissimilar realms, Pruitt draws upon black popular culture as he employs strategies of conceptual art and conventions of art history.
Robert Pruitt lives and works in Houston, TX, where he was born in 1975. He received his MFA from The University of Texas at Austin, TX, in 2003. He has had solo exhibitions at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, TX (2006); Clementine, New York, NY (2006, 2004); and Project Row Houses, Houston, TX (2003). Group exhibitions showing his work include the Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY (2006); Frequency, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY (2005); and Double Consciousness: Black Conceptual Art since 1970, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, TX (2005).

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Chris Sauter

Boerne, Texas, USA

San Antonio-based artist Chris Sauter explores the links between biology and culture, the present and the primordial, the personal and the universal. His principal strategies are: the transformation of common objects into other recognizable objects, extreme scale shifts, and the juxtaposition of disparate materials and images. Using architecture as a raw material, he often carves into walls to retrieve material needed to build other objects. It is a means to make literal connections between the architecture and the resulting object or to reveal aspects of their respective natures. He is interested in architecture for its constructed nature—that it is built primarily for the human body, and it can be a potent stand-in for “the institution” whether it is the home, the gallery, or the museum.
Chris Sauter was born in San Antonio, Texas in 1971. He has a BA from the University of the Incarnate Word and an MFA from The University of Texas at San Antonio. He exhibits nationally and internationally with solo exhibitions at John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan, WI; Cueto Project, New York; Finesilver, Houston; Elizabeth Dee, New York; Galerie Valerie Cueto, Paris; and Susanne Vielmetter, Los Angeles Projects. Group exhibitions include Out of the Ordinary at the Contemporary Art Museum, Houston and Come Forward: Emerging Art in Texas at the Dallas Museum of Art.
In 1999, Sauter was selected by Guest Curator Okwui Enwezor to participate in the Artpace International Artist-in-Residence program.

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Allison Wiese

San Diego, California, USA

Allison Wiese, an associate professor, teaches sculpture and related topics. She is an interdisciplinary artist who makes sculptures, installations, sound works and architectural interventions. Wiese’s work has been exhibited throughout the United States at such venues as Machine Project in Los Angeles, The Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego and Socrates Sculpture Park in New York. She is a recipient of the Louis Comfort Tiffany Award, and has also received grants from Art Matters, Creative Capital and the Cultural Arts Council of Houston

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