Eric Simpson: Speculative Display Units 1-6
First Friday, August 4, 2017, 7:30pm
Buffalo, NY – J. Eric Simpson will be giving a performative lecture during the opening of his exhibition in the front window at Eleven Twenty Projects.
Simpson will be speaking about the changing visual and ideological identity of the Protestant religion as it conforms to a consumer based economy. Situated somewhere between pastor and professor, Simpson will merge the styles of academic lecture and religious sermon.
The performance and the sculptures share a conceptual armature. Drawing upon experience from his youth where he grew up in conservative Protestant culture, Simpson has tracked modern Protestantism and noticed a shift in course. Rather than occupying traditional churches and conventional places of worship, Protestant groups have been repurposing vacated big-box stores in suburbia as newly opened sacred spaces. Simpson reacts to this change through sculpture as he juxtaposes religious shrines with retail display cases. In doing so, he begins a conversation about the relationship between consumerism and spiritual practice.
These sculptures are sleek, attractive, mimicking retail cases in a department store, but are completely devoid of salable objects. This pristine absence invites the viewer to contemplate these contrasts. The soft glow of the LED lights and the low hum emitting from the sculptures broadcasts a sense of life, though considering the meek audio and the emptiness of the shelving, it gives the impression that this life is nearing its end.
A modular design has been applied to these objects; a single set of shapes is rearranged in each work to create variations, connecting directly to the way in which these evolving Protestant groups reconfigure retail space for religious use. This work blurs the line between spiritual tributes and commercial display systems, illustrating the moment when, as Simpson puts it, “mass consumption becomes mass worship”.
ABOUT THE ARTIST:
Eric Simpson is a Texas native who earned his BFA (2013) from Texas Tech University and his MFA (2017) from The State University of New York at Buffalo. Simpson has executed five solo exhibitions in which he combines his interests in Christianity and consumerism. He has also taken part in a number of group shows including Amid/In WNY Epilogue (2017), The Measure of All Things (2016), and the Landarts of the American West field research and exhibition (2014-5). His work is in the collections of the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Yale University and Baylor University Libraries. Artist’s Website: http://jeric-simpson.squarespace.com
ABOUT ELEVEN TWENTY PROJECTS:
Founded in 2013, a modern and contemporary arts initiative, located on Buffalo’s Main Street adjacent to the medical campus, Eleven Twenty Projects intermixes art, history, and material culture with a diverse approach and independent vision.