Details of Julie Schenkelberg’s Symptomatic Constant, 2014 art installation at the Morton Hotel in Grand Rapids, MI. Image courtesy of Asya Geisberg Gallery
NEW YORK– Julie Schenkelberg’s site specific installation has been awarded the $20,000 Juried Prize in Installation at ArtPrize 2014. Titled Symptomatic Constant, the installation was selected from over 1,500 entries. The piece installed in the main lobby of the unused Morton Hotel in Grand Rapids, MI was constructed of dishes, fabrics, a boat sail and other items she found in West Michigan. Many of the items used for Symptomatic Constant came from Goodwill of Greater Grand Rapids, Padnos Recycling Center, and Lost and Found Treasures Old and New.
Symptomatic Constant, according to Schenkelberg is her ‘representation of a shipwreck in the Midwest’ and “the twisting turmoil of objects and domestic places in upheaval.” The multiple meaning inherent in Symptomatic Constant are deliberately constructed to touch on many aspect of human existence and turbulent experiences. Beyond the stated ideas, the piece also references the calamity of unending wars and the destruction to homes and humans. In a way, Symptomatic Constant is mimetic of some of the haunting images of bomb blast in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and other combat zones. Rusty metal, heavy concrete, and tool-made marks such as drilled holes, chain-sawed indentations and industrial materials are reminders of those gory and calamitous episodes of war. In addition to the calamity of war, Symptomatic Constant is also a reminder of domesticity and upheaval within the home setting. In a period when domestic violence cases have dominated the news, this piece is absolutely relevant. The combination of broken furniture, shattered dishware, and torn textiles, present viewers with a scene of domestic turbulence. All that is missing is the splatter of blood.
Evidently a lot of thought went into creating Symptomatic Constant. Schenkelberg who lives and works in Brooklyn, NY, began the creative process by investigating the site. Besides her creative instincts, what also comes into play is her education. Schenkelberg received a BA in art history at the College of Wooster, and an MFA at the School of Visual Arts, NY. She has also received additional studies at SAIC at Oxbow, MI, Pont Aven School of Contemporary Art, France, and the Institute of European Studies, Vienna. Art History and visual arts are important elements in Schenkelberg works, and that is what makes Symptomatic Constant significant. The piece borrows from art to tell stories that many are familiar with. Winning the ArtPrize 2014 gives credence to her creative sensibilities and artistic career.