Champollion, William Corwin

July 21 - August 12, 2016

Geary is excited to present Champollion, a solo exhibition of sculptures by New York-based artist William Corwin.

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Champollion is a collection of small and medium-sized cast sculptures, in lead, plaster and resin that offer up a glossary of found and constructed symbols: the title refers to Jean-Francois Champollion, decipherer of the hieroglyphic language; a pictographic/ideographic and phonetic form of communication that the sculptor sees as a model for the construction of his own objects as both images and texts.  The accompanying catalog offers a selection of Corwin’s interviews with archeologists Colin Renfrew and Yonas Beyene on the origins of symbolism, drawing and form.  The organization and installation of the gallery loosely imitates a celestial ship carrying Corwin’s sculptures and the spirit of the father of Egyptology, Champollion, across the sky.

“Champollion, is a presentation in a Bark—a ship that would guide a pharaoh on their interstellar afterworld journey. Set up for this exhibition, Corwin’s solar vessel is on a burial voyage for the Father of Egyptology. Jean-François Champollion (an original Hacker) who freed the hidden narrative held captive by poor translation. He deciphered hieroglyphics and opened history.”

– David Goodman

Corwin’s sculptures draw on the pre-modern history of assemblage in order to coagulate information in to a distinct body. As opposed to the digitization processes of today, wherein information and knowledge are conflated into the abstract “memory” of a device, Corwin’s work is an amalgamation of cavities, creating a network of meaning through pocked symbols.

Corwin defines objects by means of collection, not unlike the collection and aggregations of symbols we use in order to communicate with our thumbs via iPhone. In this way, Champollion is an exhibition of future artifacts from a renaissance of the hieroglyph.

Corwin has had an interview program on Clocktower Radio for the past seven years and spent this past winter in Ethiopia interviewing artists, musicians and archeologists.  One of the main foci of this trip was to see and study the Ark culture of Ethiopia and to discuss and research the earliest hominin ancestors whose remains have been discovered in the northeast desert of the country.  His sculptures are scaled so as to directly involve the viewer as a participant in the viewing experience, and previous projects, at the historic Clocktower Gallery; the Staten Island Ferry terminal; South Street Seaport; and Puccs Gallery in Budapest have allowed viewers to physically interact with the work.

The exhibitions Cyborg at Zurcher Gallery and Devotion at Catinca Tabacaru, curated by Will Corwin in the fall of 2015 were complementary projects meant to explore the means by which artists are depicting the human entity within the modern technological/ecological/ and sociological context, in the former, and the original use-value of contemporary artworks placed in a liturgical setting, in the latter.  Champollion brings together the lead pieces by the artist from those exhibitions, and the series of eight multicolored cast plaster works from his collaboration with cartographer Neil Greenberg, The Great Richmond—an interactive game-based sculpture on view at the Staten Island Ferry terminal in 2014-15.  In addition there are several new lead, wood/plaster and resin works.

Will Hutnick (b. 1985, Manhasset, NY) is an artist based in Sharon, CT. 

He received his M.F.A. from Pratt Institute in 2011 and his B.A. from Providence College in 2007. Hutnick is a 2021 NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellow in Painting, as well as a grant recipient from the Berkshire Taconic Foundation in 2023 and 2017, and the Foundation for Contemporary Arts in 2016. Solo exhibitions include: Pamela Salisbury Gallery (Hudson, NY), Elijah Wheat Showroom (Newburgh, NY), Standard Space (Sharon, CT), Providence College Galleries (Providence, RI), One River School (Hartsdale, NY), The Java Project (Brooklyn, NY), and St. Thomas Aquinas College (Sparkill, NY). Selected group exhibitions include: Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art (New Paltz, NY), Hollis Taggart (Southport, CT), Geary Contemporary (Millerton, NY), 1969 Gallery (New York, NY), Heaven Gallery (Chicago, IL) and Collar Works (Troy, NY). Hutnick has been an artist-in-residence at Yaddo, Elizabeth Murray Artist Residency, Vermont Studio Center, Hambidge Center for the Creative Arts and Sciences, Soaring Gardens Artists’ Retreat, DNA Artist Residency, Hewnoaks, Stove Works, and the Wassaic Project, as well as a curator-in-residence at Benaco Arte and Trestle Projects. He has curated numerous exhibitions at SPRING/BREAK Art Show, Ortega y Gasset Projects, Trestle Projects, Pratt Institute, Wassaic Project, Troutbeck and Standard Space. His work has been featured in The New York Times, New American Paintings, and Hyperallergic, among others. From 2015-20, Hutnick was one of the Co-Directors of Ortega y Gasset Projects, an artist-run curatorial collective and exhibition space in Brooklyn. He is currently the Director of Artistic Programming at the Wassaic Project in Wassaic, NY, a nonprofit organization that uses art and art education to foster positive social change.