poetics & longing

a group show at Able Baker Contemporary
curated by Jenna Crowder
March 23–May 5, 2018

Myron Beasley
Cairo Bats (Nadia Mounier, Hagar Masoud, Mai Al Shazly, Magdalena Kallenberger, Omneia Naguib, & Yvonne Buchheim)
Jon Calame
Jenna Crowder
DéLana R.A. Dameron & Jessica Lynne
Erin Johnson
Devin N. Morris
Bridget Frances Quinn
Julie Poitras Santos
D.A. Powell
Jimmy Riordan
Maia Snow
meg willing

That tender, aching nature of longing is rarely straightforward: take, for example, the need to belong, to be seen, to be acknowledged; how we yearn for a friend or a lover; or, perhaps, in quests for knowledge, distance, closeness, autonomy. To comprehend it, we may look to the complexity of our identities and perceptions; we may need to reach past the limitations of logic. An opportunity to relinquish rationality as the sole arbiter of truth might be found by inhabiting emotional, spiritual, and intuitive spaces instead. To suspend oneself in one’s own desires is to navigate through the non-linear, through parallel universes, and through dreams: in this suspension, we know our pasts, presents, and futures simultaneously. What lies in the vastness of our wants? How does the world answer when we push past our definitions, into the beyond?

THIS DESIRE presents work from nineteen contemporary artists and poets who explore the nature of desire and longing through the intersection of writing and art-making. Using language as material — representationally, symbolically, or as a springboard — the works in this exhibition act as maps for palpably navigating the infinity between the impossibility of to want and the physicality of to have. The tension between the two is buoyed through performance, gesture, and movement, suggesting that engagement and action are required before arrival. Far from using text as caption, writing as systemic communication, or visuals as representation, these artists work text and image into new languages that we may understand through all of our faculties of knowing. Set in the context of a visual arts space, these works muddy the distinction between the genres of writing and visual art. As much as the gallery renders them all visual works, so the act of reading extends to the visual objects: the space also becomes a library in which one can read a painting — and each of its elements — as fully as a poem and the words that comprise it.

Through installation, photography, painting, drawing, video, audio, correspondence, poetry, printmaking, sculpture, and ephemera, THIS DESIRE invites us to reflect on what we want and what we long for, and by extension, how the constitution of our desire might shape the world around us. 

Exhibition photographs by Joel Tsui.

DéLana R.A. Dameron and Jessica Lynne, Where do we go to live? Where do we go to get free? (detail), correspondence excerpts, 2015–2018

Left: DéLana R.A. Dameron and Jessica Lynne, Where do we go to live? Where do we go to get free?, correspondence excerpts, 2015–2018. Center: Julie Poitras Santos, Her Voice, ink, paper, wood, 2018. Right: Myron Beasley, word.body.desire, audio performance of interconnecting narratives of word.body.desire, 2018.

D.A. Powell, corydon & alexis, redux (detail) vinyl, 2009/2018. from Chronic. Copyright © 2009 by D. A. Powell. Used with the permission of Graywolf Press, Minneapolis, Minnesota,

Left: Maia Snow, I Can’t Stop Eating Sugar, oil on canvas, 2018. Right: Maia Snow, OJ, oil on canvas, 2018.

Bridget Frances Quinn, What happens if an entire city stops dreaming?, Giclée print of temporary installation, 2018.

Left: Devin N. Morris, installation of Uniform 1, acrylic on paper, acrylic on canvas, metal grommet, 2018. Uniform 2, acrylic on paper, acrylic on canvas, metal grommet, 2018. Uniform 3 (Panes), acrylic, charcoal, oil pastel & aquarelle on paper, acrylic on canvas, metal grommet, 2018. Uniform 4 (Gold), acrylic on paper, acrylic on canvas, metal grommet, 2018. Uniform 5 (Walnut), acrylic and oil paste paper, acrylic on canvas, metal grommet, 2018. Uniform 6 (Metal), acrylic on paper, acrylic on canvas, metal grommet, 2018. Curtain 1 (Amber shear), natural fiber, Black thread, grey thread, silver metal pole, 2018. Curtain 2 (Black Angle), synthetic sheer fabric, black thread, gray thread, red wood pole, 2018. Curtain 3 (Blue Plaid) cotton fabric, black thread, grey thread, red acrylic pole, 2018. Curtain 4 (Green ranger), synthetic fabric, gray thread, black thread, pink acrylic pole, 2018. Curtain 5 (Pale Gold), satin fabric, red thread, fuchsia acrylic pole, 2018. Curtain 6 (Burgundy ruche), taffeta fabric, black thread, gray thread, clear acrylic pole, 2018. Curtain 7 (Gray to work), synthetic fabric, red thread, square wood pole, 2018. Curtain 8 (Blue pillow), natural fiber fabric, black thread, grey thread, blue tulle, acrylic paint on tulle, clear acrylic pole, 2018. Curtain 9 (White cloud), cotton fabric, black thread, grey thread, acrylic painting wood pole, 2018. Curtain 10 (Sunset), acrylic on canvas, acrylic on wood pole, pink thread, black thread, 2018. Dwelling, Boy’s room — Perspective 1, oil pastel, color pencil, colored paper, metallic paper, 2018. Right: Devin N. Morris, details of Curtain 4 (Green ranger), Curtain 5 (Pale Gold), and Curtain 6 (Burgundy ruche).

Jimmy Riordan, Shape of Angels (detail), lead, lead type, tools, 2018, and Le Roman du Lièvre, monotype on mohawk superfine paper, Morgan Conservatory handmade pair cover, 2018.

meg willing, DIARY, altered book: Lady Alicia’s Secret by Rachel Cosgrove Payes (Harlequin, 1986), 2018.

Bridget Frances Quinn, Cosmic Reminder, temporary installation: rented sign updated daily, 2018.

Jon Calame, [ sic ], installation, acetate, 2018. An online version of this piece can be seen as a Prezi at

Jenna Crowder, but… (asterisms) [detail], blind relief, ink, and xerox transfer on paper, 2017.

Don Lindgren, The Production of Desire, a collection of American product cookbooks, circa 1840s to 1960s.

Cairo Bats, Act I: The Roof, inkjet photographs, 2014–2016.

Erin Johnson, If it won’t hold water, it surely won’t hold a goat, video, 2014.