Down to Earth curated by CONNECT Curator-in-residence Kathy Cho

With Gloria Fan Duan 樊段晓春, TJ Shin, and Jessica Williams

Opening Saturday, July 30th 3–7pm

Roots and Culture presents Down to Earth, a group exhibition connecting the practices of Gloria Fan Duan 樊段晓春 (New York City), TJ Shin (Los Angeles), and Jessica Williams (Jeløya, Norway). Organized by CONNECT Curator-in-residence, Kathy Cho, the artists approach ecological considerations with intimate personal sensibilities and use technology in broad definition to create speculative futures. With an evolving definition throughout decades, queer ecologies examines the potential overlaps between queer theory and ecological concerns—recently an active move from commonly accepted dualities such as man/nature, civilized/uncivilized, alongside labels such as native/invasive species. The works in Down to Earth explore alternative ways of processing existing systems of classification, human relationships, and collective histories in relation to nature. 

Existing between intentional and by-product, natural and artificial, the works in Down to Earth are hybrid and speculative. Fan Duan’s sculptures from The Bonsai Paradox: A Celadon Future series, “redefines the relationship between the natural and its representations by digitally mediating traditional Asian technologies—the art of bonsai and celadon glaze—that have themselves questioned the boundaries of what is natural.” TJ Shin’s various works reference the artists’ experiment during their residency at University of Buffalo, where they induced changes into the genome of a foraged mugwort plant by transfecting the artists’ DNA particles, using a gene gun commonly used for agricultural engineering. Originally exhibited at Skiens Kunstforening, a reconfigured presentation of Jessica Williams’ Reimagining the data center as mycelium draws lines between a proposed Google data center in a forest in Grenland and complex underground webs of mycelium, simultaneously gargantuan yet imperceptible. The Oslofjord series of prints are a selection from an archive of beach plastic collected on inner Oslofjord in 2016.

Moving between disciplines, nature, and technology, the artists of Down to Earth uncover our deeply complex relationships with non-human entities. The artists reference existing systems and unearthed histories as a way to bring attention to overlooked perspectives and consider an intertwined futurity, often rendered through digital means. Together, the artists diverge from the expected to expand the evolving definition of queer ecology.

Gloria Fan Duan 樊段晓春, is a Chinese-American artist working at the poetic intersections of art, science, technology, and diaspora. Her practice falls within the poetics of science and philosophy, and attempts to capture the mysterious aspects in both fields of inquiry. In doing so she aims to shed light on what is traditionally seen as incomprehensible. In order to examine concepts of the un-guessed, her works explore simulacros points in reality, speculative futures based upon the passage of time, and visualizing the invisible. 

Fan Duan has exhibited at cultural and academic institutions that seek to advance these fields of inquiry, a selection which includes: Art Basel in Basel, Ars Electronica Festival, the Wrong Biennale, 18th Street Art Center, The Phillips Collection, The Research House for Asian Art, Mana Contemporary, and New Art City.

TJ Shin is an interdisciplinary artist working at the intersections of race, gender, sexuality, and speciesism.  Inspired by decentralized ecologies and queer sociality, they create living installations and imagine an ever-expanding self that exists beyond the boundaries of one’s skin.   

Shin is a 2020 New York Community Trust Van Lier Fellow and 2020 Visiting Artist Fellow at UrbanGlass in Brooklyn.  Shin has exhibited internationally at the Queens Museum, Lewis Center for the Arts, Wave Hill, Recess, Doosan Gallery, Klaus Von Nichtssagend Gallery, Cuchifritos Gallery, Knockdown Center, and Cody Dock, London.   

Jessica Williams (US/NO) is a contemporary artist based on the island of Jeløya. In her artistic process, Williams collects objects from everyday life, which are then processed and refined. Through language, aesthetic collections, and tragicomedy, Williams’ work examines themes such as identity and humans’ relationship with nature, consumption, and technology. 

She has exhibited widely in Norway and abroad, including several solo shows at artist-run spaces in Oslo, Stavanger, Bergen, Glasgow, Malmö, Austin, TX and more. Most recently, her works are included in the opening exhibition “I call it art” at Norway’s National Museum, the 2022 Spring Exhibition at Fotogalleriet in Oslo, and the Oslo Architecture Triennial.

Kathy Cho is a curator who produces exhibitions, events, images, and writing to collectively archive loose narratives of lived-experiences. Ongoing research includes expanding the visual and dialogic lexicon of Asian diaspora artists, and exploring the physical and digital architectures of affect. 

Currently based online and in New York, she is the Community Organizer and Program Curator for Feral File. She has previously contributed to art ecosystems in Baltimore, Chicago, Philadelphia, and London.