Jess Poplawski’s installation in Input/Output, photos by the author

Have you ever wondered why it’s so intriguing to explore an artist’s studio? Aside from their work, we get a glimpse into not only their artistic process but their valued possessions, inspirations and snippets of their lives. Input/Output, a show curated by Aimee Lusty and Scott Meyers (as well as an accompanying zine), pairs artists’ work with their personal collections. Exhibited at Booklyn, a small one-room gallery space in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint neighborhood, Input/Output feels intimate — actually less like a studio visit and more like a peek into the artists’ bedrooms.

Katie Plassche’s installation

The show features artists from all over the DIY spectrum. In the first corner of the room, Jess Poplawski’s dark Americana-inspired work spills into Alexander Heir’s gloomy punk-voodoo vibes. Poplawski’s wall spread features a wrinkled American flag and a denim jacket studded with the words “Evil Wicked Mean and Nasty” around smaller patches studded with anarchy As and peace signs. Poplawski’s jacket definitely makes us question whose stuff this is — a bratty teenager? A badass biker?

With tiny trinkets like golden feathers painstakingly pinned to the wall, Poplawski’s personal collection shows a distinct aesthetic in its installation. Aside from her wearable creations, Poplawski creates surreal drawings/paintings that display a similar biting humor. Her style veers on folk art, making a well-suited pairing for her personal objects.

Detail of Jess Poplawski’s installation

As you look across the wall, you can see a seamless transition from Poplawski’s arrangement to Alexander Heir’s installation. The artist/designer behind Brooklyn’s Death/Traitors, Heir’s own creations are nearly inseparable from that of his talismans. Dead animal skulls and candles are draped with rosary beads, and Heir’s interest in symbols is clear. The same images appear more graphically in his own work in the form of evil eyes, more skulls, grim reapers and foreboding messages.

Detail of Alexander Heir’s installation

Detail of Alexander Heir’s installation

Comic book author Victor Giannini exhibits a more playful sensibility, yet it’s still grim. Giannini’s comic works are villain-y, monster-y themed panels, filled to the top with gore and skateboarding. Giannini’s personal bits are more varied and create what I saw as a fantastical diorama.

Victor Giannini’s installation

Detail of Victor Giannini’s installation

Outsider artist Keith Pavia included multitudes of sketchbooks in the show, all available to view on the large reading table that takes up much of the room in the gallery. While Pavia draws enigmatic characters, vessels and vehicles, my favorite pieces of his were his strange portrait collages. There is something magical about their eeriness.

A collage by Keith Pavia

Katie Plassche’s enthusiasm for narwhal whales — the unicorns of the sea — was a welcome addition after all of the darkness in the show. While the whole show veers towards the playful, Plassche’s work decidedly reminisces on childhood. With a plastic axe as its centerpiece, Plassche’s display includes declarations of friendship, like a drawing of a wheelchair for two, and a unicorn placed beside its narwhal companion.

Detail of Katie Plassche’s installation

Lusty and Meyers’ curatorial choices invoke artistic process by hanging finished works beside formative and inspiring snippets that normally never leave the studio. While often artists are hesitant to mention their own influences, Input/Output displays the inarguable connection between the ephemera an artist keeps and their work. This small show demonstrates that this connection is worthy of observation in its own right, and there’s no reason to shy away from that.

Input/Output will run through February 26 at Booklyn (37 Greenpoint Ave., 4th Floor, Greenpoint, Brooklyn).

Kate Wadkins is a Brooklyn-based writer and curator. She believes in the transformative power of punk. Find her online @kwadkins.

3 replies on “Artists and Their Ephemera”

  1. Love the wunderkammer look of this show. Actually, what I like the most, is that the artists seem to be building shrines to the belief systems behind their art. 

  2. Great article.  I just moved to a new and bigger space, but I have yet to personalize it.  This will take some time, but it does have a sterile and soul-less feeling about it for now w/o the personal touches.

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