Feb 17 – May 15, 2022
3rd Floor Shattuck and GNC Galleries
Each year at the SECURA Fine Arts Exhibition, a jury selects a Best of Show artist who is awarded a solo exhibition at the Trout Museum of Art. In 2021, the Best of Show artist at the 41st Annual SECURA Fine Arts Exhibition was Adam Stoner.
Shortly after the stay-at-home order began in 2020, my partner Rebecca gave birth to our first child, Sophia. In the insomnia of nighttime feedings and shushings that followed, I grew into a routine of walking the baby all around the house, a maze of roundabouts and furnishings enveloped in the darkness. It became a touchstone for me; something I might do at 2:00AM, and then also dream about after lying down to sleep. In the morning we would try to recall – how much pacing in the night had we actually done? Throughout the creation of this series, I found myself turning back to that image of a figure cycling through the living spaces of a house, enthralled with the possibilities of new life, yet restricted by our ongoing global catastrophe. In a pandemic, where can an infant go to be safe?
When I paint and animate these architectural worlds, I intend them to be held in tension with the intimate delights and fears of our lives. Despite being perennially cast as the backdrop for our pageantry, our homes will witness the greatest and most terrible moments of our lives; our dull office buildings will still be standing long after we are gone; and our places of worship may well outlast the doctrines preached within their walls.
In these images and videos, the agency and purpose of buildings stretches and dilates. Dark interiors beckon the viewer through windows and valences; a shadow cast beyond a doorway announces an unknown figure’s presence; miniature models toy with nostalgia and our deep attachment to secret worlds. The architecture in these places evades linguistic specificity; there are no friezes, no signage, no capitals, no plaques, no monuments to heroes or history. Instead, the city is reduced to familiar arrangements of windows, courtyards, doors, squares, lawns, and other architectural elements. In their simplicity the buildings seem to gesture toward the archaic; yet their sleek, untextured surfaces call to mind computer renderings, unmoored from place and culture.
The forms draw deeply on Romanesque architecture; on the empty cityscapes of Giorgio De Chirico; and several images directly recreate scenery from the early Renaissance monastic painter Fra Angelico. In my video work, architectural elements take on the agency of the living, bending and contorting in ways that hint they might evolve and change without our interference. Did we build them, or are they building us?
About the Artist
Adam Stoner (b. 1989) received his Master of Fine Arts in Intermedia Studies from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee in 2019, and his BA in Studio Art and Theater from Williams College in 2011. Stoner makes paintings, drawings, and video installations that visualize the intimate connections between architecture and our memories. How are we mutually inhabited by the very places we inhabit? If we build structures, do they also build us? Stoner is the recipient of UWM’s Chancellor’s Graduate Student Award, Layton Fellowship, and Williams College’s Gilbert W. Gabriel Prize in Theater. Originally trained in scenic design, Adam’s research frequently explores the language of space, the latent agency of materials, and the architectures—visible or invisible—which resonate endlessly in our daydreams. Adam lives and works in Milwaukee; he teaches drawing at UWM’s Peck School of the Arts.
Made possible by the Sandra & Monroe Trout Art Exhibitions Endowment Fund within the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region.