Artist Statement

My multi-disciplinary practice is propelled by the desire to challenge and illuminate the complex action – and boundless subject – of perception. I continually create open arenas and experiences for an audience to engage with both the apparent and the covert frameworks that guide the ways in which we see, act, and comprehend the world around us. More specifically, the work questions the contexts of art (from the personal to the institutional) and investigates how these can reveal and/or obscure the meaning of the artworks themselves.

To stimulate a dimensional comprehension of perception, formal visual strategies are employed that deal in the poetic manipulation of familiar materials and messages. Camouflage, repetition and realignment, magic, smokescreens, as well as visual puns and social games are but a few of the tactics that blur the hard facts of our assumed reality, and puncture any illusions of neutrality inherent in an art context. The work also activates the idea of the “double-take,” generating a snap realization in the viewer of a deeper and richer presence than what was initially seen. For example, the Museum Camouflage series (1998-2001) took up a discourse around painting and its displays by displacing two- and three-dimensional space using trompe l’oeil as a performative intervention, underscoring the belief that vision is also a visceral experience. To that end, the work also implicates the bodies of the artist and of the audience, which even if absent or invisible are absolutely required for both the production and experience of art.

The art museum has served as a key site for these questions and explorations; like many artists, I believe deeply in museums as educational forces, as wellsprings for visual fluency, and as welcome respites from the passive viewership offered by our oversaturated media culture. Yet working as a preparator at museums and galleries has infused the work with a more intimate perspective on this particular context for art, shifting its focus to the act of perception not only as action, but also as metaphor. Specifically, it queries the institution’s public claims of autonomy and objectivity, and illuminates the lack of transparency when it comes to the other forces that shape the definition and display of art: money, immaterial labor – the unseen hands responsible for art’s appearance – as well as the politics that too often determine what audiences see, and what they don’t. My practice takes on this lack of neutrality – the whitewashing (literally and figuratively) of the museum’s walls – to create a dissonance in the dictated art-going experience, and ultimately to reawaken the audience to their own powers of observation. In the end, the work is intended to function as a portal – a playful looking glass – through which we might see more clearly our lack of attentiveness to daily life. As I refine and expand my practice, it is my hope that the work will continue not only to activate but also one day to produce spaces and contexts where art, and the experience of art, can more powerfully and provocatively exist.

Museum Camouflage - Christopher Wool


Hour Long Performance at the Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, WI ©2001 Harvey Opgenorth

Museum Camouflage - Mark Rothko


Hour Long Performance at the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL ©1999 Harvey Opgenorth

Museum Camouflage - Helen Frankenthaller


Hour Long Performance at the Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, WI ©1999 Harvey Opgenorth

Museum Camouflage - Ellsworth Kelly


Hour Long Performance at the Metropolitan Museum of Art NYC ©1998 Harvey Opgenorth

Museum Camouflage - Henri Matisse


Hour Long Performance at the Museum of Modern Art NYC ©1998 Harvey Opgenorth

Curriculum Vitae

Education:

1999

Milwaukee Institute of Art And Design – BFA, Milwaukee, WI

1998

New York Studio Program at Parsons School of Design, New York, NY


Collections and Auctions:

Microsoft Permanent Art Collection

Christie’s New York


Solo Exhibitions:

2002

Car Crashes & Contraband, Project Room at the Bodybuilder and Sportsman Gallery, Chicago, IL

2000

Falling off the Top of a Skyscraper and Other Activities, Bodybuilder and Sportsman Gallery, Chicago, IL

1999

Rebus, thesis exhibition, Adambomb Gallerie, Milwaukee, WI


Group Exhibitions:

2011

Blue Ribbon, Paredon Blanco, Los Angeles, CA

2010

MKE-LAX: Interrogation by Design, Woodbury University Hollywood Exhibitions, Los Angeles, CA

Seventh Annual Nohl Fellowship Exhibition, Milwaukee, WI

Camuflajes, Espai Cultural Caja Madrid, Barcelona, Spain.

Camuflajes, Caja Madrid, Zaragoza, Spain.

Camuflajes, MUPAM, Málaga, Spain.

2009

Camuflajes, La Casa Encendida, Madrid, Spain

Generate, Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, Milwaukee, WI

0db – Zero Decibel, White Box Painters, Tampere, Finland

Open House, Nut Factory Gallery, Milwaukee, WI

Jan Lievens on a Jet Plane, Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, WI

2008

Looking Back, Mireille Mosler, Ltd. New York, NY

Milwaukee’s Own, Armoury Gallery, Milwaukee, WI

My Vote Performs, White Box Painters site specific installation, Milwaukee, WI

What You Get When You Cross…, Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee WI

2007

The Inland See: Contemporary Art Around Lake Michigan, Albertine Monroe-Brown Gallery, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI

Seth Crawford & Harvey Opgenorth, Temporary Contemporary Gallery, Milwaukee, WI

2006

Bruce Nauman 101, Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, WI

Weird Science II, Cedar Block, Milwaukee, WI

2005

Airport Eye, Hotcakes Gallery, Milwaukee, WI

Weird Science, Cedar Block, Milwaukee, WI

2004

The Rust Spot Redux, Frederick Layton Gallery, Milwaukee, WI

The Spirit of ‘77, Luckystar Gallery, Milwaukee, WI

2003

Destination 2: Space, MARN event, Gas Light Gallery, Milwaukee, WI

XXL, Luckystar Gallery, Milwaukee, WI

2002

Beauty Benefit for the Arts, Turner Hall, Milwaukee, WI

Pictoral Seams, Betty Reimer Gallery at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago,

Chicago, IL

Rust Spot/Dye House, Artist Space (Event), Milwaukee, WI

Supernatural Satisfaction, The Soap Factory, Minneapolis, MN

Watery, Domestic, the Renaissance Society, Chicago, IL

2001

Art Street Window, Round 12, Milwaukee Building, Milwaukee, WI

Group Show of Gallery Artists, Bodybuilder and Sportsman Gallery, Chicago, IL

Guerrilla Gallery, roving art event at the Acme Building, Milwaukee, WI

“O” (eau), Adambomb Gallerie, Milwaukee, WI

Return of the Rust Spot, Artist Space (Event), Milwaukee, WI

Rinse and Repeat, Miramar Theater, Milwaukee, WI

Rust Spot Cinco, Artist Space (Event), Milwaukee, WI

2000

Emerging Artists 2000, St. John’s Uihlein Peters Gallery, Milwaukee, WI

Factory Soirée, Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, WI

Rust Spot, Artist Space (Event), Milwaukee, WI

Rust Spot 2, Artist Space (Event), Milwaukee, WI

Rust Spot 3, Artist Space (Event), Milwaukee, WI

1998 Complimentary Candies, NYSP Gallery, New York, NY

149.6 x 106 km – Distance to the Sun, MIAD Gallery, Milwaukee, WI

1997

Futuretastic, 3rd Millennium Design Gallery, Milwaukee, WI

Iron Block Window Display, Milwaukee, WI

4 Weeks – Process and Pattern, MIAD Gallery, Milwaukee, WI


Awards, Lectures, Publications and Reviews:

2010

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, review by Pegi Christiansen, “’Rust Spot’ in Los Angeles” February 19, 2010.

Seventh Annual Nohl Fellowship Exhibition Catalog, essay by Jennifer Krasinski.

2009

Mary L. Nohl Fellowship Recipient, Established Artist.

Camoupedia, Roy Behrens, page 206.

My Midwest, article by Kevin Kosterman, “The Milwaukee 20 – Innovators Building Milwaukee’s Future.” March/April 2009 Issue, Pages 104-105.

2006

Eye Level, Smithsonian American Art Museum review, “Sportsman’s Camo”, October 19, 2006.

Guest Speaker at “Camouflage: Art, Science, and Popular Culture” an international conference at the University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, IA.

2004

Disruptive Pattern Material – An Encyclopedia of Camouflage, book by Hardy Blechman, pages 304-305.

2003

Milwaukee Magazine article by John Fennell, “Fifty People You Should Know.” January 2003 Issue, page 46.

Visiting Artist and Speaker, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL

2001

New Art Examiner review by Pegi Taylor, November/December 2001 Issue, pages 28-29.

Shepherd Express article by Pegi Taylor, “Will the Rust Spot Remain?” July 26 – Aug. 1,

2001 Edition, pages 46-47.

2000

Art Forum International review by James Yood, October 2000 Issue, page 149.

Art Papers review by Olga Zdanovics, November/December Issue, page 48.

1995 Four year MIAD education merit scholarship.