Dark Matter: Joel Otterson

August 5, 2018 — January 20, 2019

Through juxtaposition of materials and methods, Otterson brings real but undefined forces into play. He has been developing a new visual landscape and vigilantly constructing and building upon it since the 1980s. Otterson’s remaking of everyday objects through mash-ups of furniture, appliances, utilitarian objects, interior decorations, and architectural elements aligns his practice with feminist thinking and queer aesthetics. Dark Matter continues his lifelong trajectory of fabricating domestic interiors that challenge gender roles through works that combine aspects of domestic handicraft with traditional sculptural material.

Three Arts/Industry residencies (2001, 2017, 2018) at Kohler Co.’s factory have had a noteworthy impact on Otterson’s practice. He had his first opportunity to work seriously in ceramics during his first residency, producing eighty-eight pieces in Kohler Co.’s Pottery. Upon his return to the factory in 2017, Otterson was able to experiment in Kohler Co.’s Foundry, working with cast iron and experimenting with scale. During his third residency, he followed through with the ideas and concepts from the year before.

Dark Matter presents new works produced in the Kohler Co. Foundry along with recently made hardwood sculptures and fabric drapes. This combination of materials helps contextualize Otterson’s drive to give things a new identity, change their context, and reveal hidden meaning.

This exhibition is supported in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts. Funding was also provided by the Kohler Trust for the Arts and Education, Kohler Foundation, Inc., and the Frederic Cornell Kohler Charitable Trust. The Arts Center thanks its many members for their support of exhibitions and programs through the year.