Sorry I haven’t written

Jessica Halonen

In Residence: Sep 23 – Nov 19, 2019

Exhibition: Nov 14, 2019 – Jan 12, 2020

During a visit with her family in Michigan, Jessica Halonen came across her father’s military draft records from the Vietnam War where he served as a helicopter mechanic. He never spoke about his experiences in the war, making the discovery as illuminating as it was opaque. Among the official documents from his time there she found: an envelope which contained combat patches; a Christmas card sent from Vietnam to his parents and siblings; and, of particular interest, a tattered, folded sheet of paper containing a sketch of a helicopter. The paper, folded to pocket-size, documented various mechanical parts and commonly used phrases, such as “I’m very busy today,” in English and Vietnamese. Despite its age, the words and diagrams remain remarkably vibrant. The text includes an intriguing combination of blue, black, and red inks, and it is clear multiple people contributed to its content.

Sorry I haven’t written was inspired by the ephemera in her father’s file, and the gallery space in which the works are viewed. The repeating rectangular forms of the pocket-sized note, the Christmas card, the free-standing window-esque wooden grid, as well as the panels on which they are painted, are in dialogue with the windows in the space.

The sculptural elements in the exhibition are made of varied materials including wood, metal-leaf, and blown glass. Halonen’s choice of materials is deliberate, calling to mind the gold embossing on her father’s holiday card and sandbags used for protection during conflict. Glass usually offers an unobstructed view; however, as seen in the sandbags and the surrounding gallery windows, glass can also distort and obscure, reminding us of the more slippery qualities of perspective, memory, and remembrance.

Image Credit: Seale Studio

Download Gallery Notes PDF for Sorry I Haven’t Written


Jessica Halonen

Austin, Texas, USA

Jessica Halonen creates sculpture and paintings that explore intersections between art, science, and history. She has engaged with topics such as genetic engineering in the pharmaceutical industry and the historical and metaphorical implications of the color blue. Her research-based work has been widely exhibited and was recently reviewed in Artforum.
Halonen received a MFA in Painting from Washington University in Saint Louis and has been an Artist-in-Residence at the MacDowell Colony, New Hampshire; Kunstlerhaus Bethanian, Berlin; and Core Program, Glassell School of Art, Museum of Fine Arts Houston. Her work has been included in numerous exhibitions, notably at The Contemporary Austin, the Dallas Contemporary, the McNay Art Museum, the Tang Teaching Museum at Skidmore College, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Torrance Art Museum, Los Angeles. Her work is in the permanent collections of the Art Museum of South Texas, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Halonen was born and raised in Milford, Michigan and currently lives and works in Austin and San Antonio. Halonen is an associate professor of art in the Department of Art and Art History at Trinity University in San Antonio.
Photo credit: Lauren Grant

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Kelly Baum

New York, New York, USA

Kelly Baum is the Cynthia Hazen Polsky and Leon Polsky Curator of Contemporary Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She has held curatorial positions at the Princeton University Art Museum (2007–2015), the Blanton Museum of Art (2002–2007), and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (2000–2002). Kelly has curated or co-curated over twenty-five exhibitions, including Carol Bove (2006); Nobody’s Property: Art, Land, Space (2010); New Jersey as Non-Site (2013), for which she received a Warhol Curatorial Research Fellowship; The Body Politic: Video from The Met Collection (2017); Delirious: Art at the Limits of Reason, 1950–1980 (2017), and most recentlyOdyssey: Jack Whitten Sculpture, 1963-2017. Her writing has been widely published in books and catalogues as well as in such journals as October and Art Journal. In 2018, she was a fellow in the Center for Curatorial Leadership.

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