Subspontaneous: Francesca Lohmann and Rob Rhee
January 25, 2020 – January 4, 2021
Confounding the distinction between the natural and the manufactured, so-called subspontaneous plant species are introduced by humans but spread without further intervention, traveling across ecological boundaries and living in diverse forms of symbiosis. The term has double resonance in this exhibition, which presents a curator-cultivated but organically developed collaboration between Francesca Lohmann and Rob Rhee, Seattle-based artists who each, in turn, collaborate with the forces of nature in their sculptural practices. Gravity, time, and unpredictable processes such as biological growth play a significant role in the creation of both artists’ works, which are often executed in series that foreground material experimentation and formal variation. Subspontaneous brings pieces by each artist into relationship within an installation designed by the duo, proposing a mutualistic model of co-creation and celebrating contingency, entanglement, and interdependence.
Trained in printmaking, Francesca Lohmann employs sculptural methods such as casting—in which a fluid substance is poured into a mold and allowed to harden—that are related to imprinting, repetition, and mutation. Her bulging, body-like plaster-cast lumps and coils retain impressions of the woven fabric tubes and sacks in which they cured, evidence of the once-liquid plaster’s gravitational strain against its textile “skin.” Sprouted potatoes cast in bronze suspend a process of organic transformation, while large, plaster-filled sausage casings bear the permanent coloration of transient mold blooms.
Rob Rhee’s work is concerned primarily with structural anomalies and environmental manipulation, combining volatile substances with artificial constraints so as to thwart rule-based systems. For his long-term project The Occupations of Uninhabited Space, Rhee distributes cage-like, welded steel sculptures to regional farmers who place them over immature gourds. As the gourds grow, they protrude from their enclosures according to their own obscure sensibilities, determining the hybridized sculpture’s display orientation. Other featured bodies of work include castings made by pouring incompatible materials, like plaster and alginate (a polymer derived from seaweed), into plastic soda bottles, where the two elements interact in unpredictable ways.
Appearing together in the exhibition as a field of forms on supports of unusual dimensions and composition, the works in Subspontaneous shift our attention from the singular, autonomous object toward phenomena, processes, and sites of contact—the places where disparate types of matter meet, give way, or remain in tension.
Francesca Lohmann (American, b. 1986, San Francisco, California) lives and works in Seattle. Recent exhibitions of her work have been held at Ditch Projects, Eugene, Oregon; Seattle Freezer; Coffin Farm, Redmond, Washington; Veronica, Seattle; and Jacob Lawrence Gallery, Seattle. Lohmann received her BFA from Rhode Island School of Design and her MFA from Cornell University.
Rob Rhee (American, b. 1982, Bronx, New York) lives and works in Seattle. His work has been exhibited nationally at the Portland Art Museum, Oregon; the Hunterdon Art Museum, New Jersey; White Columns, New York; Fort Worth Contemporary Arts, Texas; and the Korean Cultural Center, Los Angeles. He has also exhibited internationally at the 10th Berlin Biennale and the Ilmin Museum of Art, South Korea. Rhee received his BA from Yale University and his MFA from Columbia University.