Press Release  August 25, 2020

Shikeith and Jennifer Angus Installations Debut at Mattress Factory

Mattress Factory, Photo by Tom Little

Installation view, Jennifer Angus: The Museum of All Things

The Mattress Factory presents solo exhibitions by artists Jennifer Angus and Shikeith. The two new site-specific installations opened on Wednesday, August 19, 2020 and will be on view at the museum’s Monterey Annex until early 2021.

“The Mattress Factory is honored and excited to show new site-specific installations by Shikeith and Jennifer Angus. The work of both artists is enthralling, thought-provoking, and dynamic, and I look forward to visitors’ engagement with the exhibitions,” says Hayley Haldeman, Interim Executive Director.

Mattress Factory, Photo by Tom Little

Installation view, Jennifer Angus: The Museum of All Things

Jennifer Angus – The Museum of All Things 
Angus, who primarily works with dead and dried insects, draws upon her background in textile design, placing thousands of insects on walls in patterns that mimic those of textiles and wallpaper. Upon discovering that the ornate patterns are formed from insects, viewers feelings typically fluctuate between incredulity and amazement, and very occasionally terror. Over time, Angus’ work has evolved to explore issues related to the environment and the important role insects play within it. “I feel an urgency to continue to make work that draws attention to some of our planet’s lowliest creatures for, simply speaking, without insects man cannot survive,” says Angus.  

Angus’ The Museum of All Things is a cabinet of curiosities focusing on insects’ vital role in our world. The walls feature patterns and designs made from cicadas, weevils and small beetles, and the vibrant magenta red coloring on the walls is created from a little-known insect that plays an important role in the food and cosmetics industries; cochineal is a type of scale insect (as is lice), found in Latin America from which a common food colorant is derived. At once a call to action and a celebration, the center of the gallery features a dinner party, where native Pennsylvanian animals enjoy a meal of bread and honey.

Mattress Factory, Photo by Tom Little

Installation view, Shikeith: Feeling The Spirit In The Dark

Shikeith – Feeling The Spirit In The Dark 
Shikeith’s work is an assemblage of wonder and personal truths that focus on the metamorphoses of Black men, especially within a society that denies these men their erotic and reconciliatory potential. His work seeks to consider the interior, both his own, as well as, other Black men through emphasizing photography, sculpture, and filmmaking to examine the fantastic as it relates and complicates personal autobiography and self-making. “I aim to make artwork that moves beyond a focus on the bodies of black men but into the deepness of our psyches where identities are formed and black manhood can be imagined as an indeterminate and unfixed space.” 

In Feeling The Spirit In The Dark, Shikeith advances his constructions of "blue spaces" that act to reconcile what haunts Black men's interior worlds in the afterlife of the Transatlantic slave trade. Within this installation, he mines the surreal to complicate the relationship between the erotic, slavery, and Black spirituality.

Mattress Factory, Photo by Tom Little

Installation view, Jennifer Angus: The Museum of All Things

About the Artists 

Jennifer Angus is a professor in the Design Studies department at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. She received her education at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (BFA) and at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (MFA). Jennifer has exhibited her work internationally including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan and Spain. She has been the recipient of numerous awards including Canada Council, Ontario Arts Council and Wisconsin Arts Board grants. Most recently she received the inaugural Forward Art Prize, a new unrestricted award for outstanding women artists of Wisconsin.  

Angus’ exhibition In the Midnight Garden, was part of Wonder the inaugural exhibition that reopened the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery in Washington, D.C. She was one of nine artists selected by curator Nicholas Bell for this landmark exhibition.  

Shikeith is originally from Philadelphia, PA, and now lives and works in Pittsburgh, PA. He received a BA from The Pennsylvania State University (2010) and an MFA in Sculpture from The Yale School of Art (2018). Within overlapping practices of visual art and film making, he investigates the experiences of black men within and around concepts of psychic space, the blues, and black queer fugitivity. He has shared his work nationally and internationally through recent exhibitions and screenings that include The Language Must Not Sweat, Locust Projects, Miami, FL; Notes Towards Becoming A Spill, Atlanta Contemporary, Atlanta, GA; Shikeith: This was his body/His body finally his, MAK Gallery, London, UK; Go Tell It: Civil Rights Photography, Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, WA; A Drop of Sun Under The Earth, MOCA LA, Los Angeles, CA; Labor Relations, Wroclaw Contemporary Museum, Poland; and Black Intimacy: An Evening With Shikeith, MoMA, New York, NY. He is a 2019 recipient of the Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters & Sculptors Grants.

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