Exhibition - James Grashow: The Great Monkey Project
Monkey Project. The site-specific installation consists of eighty life-size monkeys made entirely out or cardboard. Grashow transforms the gallery into a whimsical theatre of simian forms as he elevates a throw-away material into the best kind of monkey business.
Since the early 1900s, cardboard has sparked imaginations, from Picasso’s Still Life with Guitar to Andy Warhol’s Brillo Boxes to Bansky’s Dismaland. Contemporary artists continue to be drawn to this ubiquitous medium for its formal and conceptual possibilities. For decades, Grashow has cut, carved, and bent corrugated cardboard into friendly forms—birds, sea creatures, and cityscapes among them. These familiar subjects, created with a material that is destined to degrade, are rooted in the artist’s desire to understand his own bodily decline and eventual demise.
Grashow’s grim subtext may appear out of sync with the whimsy of The Great Monkey Project, but as he suggests, cardboard understands its fate, regardless of the final form. “It’s so ephemeral,” the artist explains, “It’s so grateful for the opportunity to become something because it knows it’s going to be trash.” Tough but temporary, the simian intervention reminds us of our physical impermanence and the beauty of everyday materials.
Born in Brooklyn, James Grashow received a Bachelor of Fine Arts and Master of Fine Arts from New York City’s Pratt Institute. After obtaining his B.F.A., he was awarded a Fulbright travel grant to Florence, Italy for painting and graphics. His work in multiple media, including papier-mâché, cardboard, and woodcuts, examine universal themes of humankind, nature, and mortality.
James Grashow: The Great Monkey Project was made possible by the Gretchen Keyworth Fund.
Dates: February 15, 2020 - September 13, 2020
Location: Atrium Gallery