Curated by Samantha De Tillio
On view: May 24 - July 30, 2017
Opening reception: May 24 from 6-8pm.
View of Annwn, 2016, 25:00 minutes
Since 2013 Aaron Pexa has been making video works that are informed by his previous career in architecture and urban planning. His work manifests curiosity and a sense of bewilderment through video, optics, and appropriated antique objects. Pexa’s surrealist, glass sets combined with spoken word and original scores reframe everyday objects into fantastical narratives and opportunities for storytelling. The poetic materiality of his videos overflows into his curiosity-inspiring installations, which explore the process of creation, and the symbiotic relationship between glass and light.
Aaron Pexa: The Spoils of Annwn will present, for the first time, an multi-media installation inspired by “Preiddeu Annwn,” an epic poem found in the Book of Taliesen, one of the most famous Middle Welsh manuscripts. “Preiddeu Annwn,” which translates to “The Spoils of Annwn” is a cryptic telling of a tragic overseas journey made by King Arthur and his knights to Annwn—the Otherworld—a world of otherworldly delights inhabited by the faerie folk. Throughout this poem, Annwn is referred to by several names, including the Glass Fortress. The island with the Glass Fortress also has links to the legendary Isle of Avalon, the island of Glastonbury, in the United Kingdom, and the search for the Holy Grail.
In this exhibition, Pexa uses video, neon, light sculptures, and illustration to materialize the fantastical beasts that inhabit Annwn. Transformed into an otherworld, the gallery will tell the story of Arthur’s journey through a contemporary lens. The Old English term “werifesteria,” which means to wander longingly through the forest in search of mystery is theme central to this work, as is Pexa’s consistent goal to incite wonder and bewilderment within his audience. The installation and accompanying materials will include contributions by performer-vocalist-dancer Maralie and poet Joanna C. Valente.
About the artist: Based in Providence, RI, Pexa received his Masters of Fine Art in Glass from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2014, and has a dual Masters in Architecture and Urban Design from Washington University in Saint Louis, as well as a Bachelors in Studio Art from Carleton College, Northfield, Minnesota. Prior to RISD, Pexa worked as an architect and urban designer in London and New Orleans. He has won numerous awards including a RISD travel grant to research glassmaking techniques along Finland’s Glass Trail, a Chinese Government Scholarship to study Mandarin at the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou and promote cross-cultural exchange, and a fellowship at the Creative Glass Center of America at Wheaton Arts in Millville, New Jersey. His most recent project, The Lucent Parlor, was created during this residency. Additional notable projects by Pexa include Back Door @ The Pendleton, Parlor Trick, and Land of Ruby. Aaron Pexa is represented by Cade Tompkins Projects.
About the curator: Samantha De Tillio is a Brooklyn-based curator and writer. She is currently Assistant Curator at the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD), where she specializes in post-war and contemporary craft. Her current exhibition Crochet Coral Reef: TOXIC SEAS is open through January 2017, and her upcoming exhibition Judith Leiber: Crafting a New York Story opens April 4, 2017; she will also be a panelist at the Institute of Fine Arts, NYU in February 2017. De Tillio has a Master of Arts in the History of Decorative Arts from the Smithsonian Associates with George Mason University, Washington, DC, a Bachelor of Arts in History from the University at Albany with minors in Ancient Greek and Roman Civilizations, and Spanish. De Tillio is also a regular contributor to GLASS: The UrbanGlass Quarterly.
 Preiddeu Annwn: The Spoils of Annwn as translated by Sarah Higley (2007) for The Camelot Project: A Robbins Library Digital Project at the University of Rochester, NY. http://d.lib.rochester.edu/camelot/text/preiddeu-annwn