SEAM, an exhibition of sculptures and installations by Jason Brown

  • on 26 Nov 2012
  • Carlos Gallery, Nabit Art Building
clear cut

The Carlos Gallery presents SEAM, an exhibition of sculptures and installations by Knoxville artist Jason Brown. Brown’s work is often situated in urban and rural landscapes in order to question human relationships with the natural world. In this new series, he explores the controversial practice of mountaintop removal coal mining that is now prevalent throughout Appalachia. The exhibition will be on display Nov. 9-Dec. 18.

Brown is associate professor of art at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. Particularly interested in this mining practice that dramatically changes our regional landscape, he explores transitional spaces where growth and decay are happening simultaneously. Large sculptural works such as “Clear Cut” (above) and “Cul de Sac” hang on the wall, and assemble construction materials with photographic depictions of the natural world as it is being developed, mined or permanently changed. These objects invite the viewer to engage in a civic dialogue about individuals, community and place. In his installations, Brown transforms places through actions that create a confounding spectacle in order to question routine patterns and social norms.

For this exhibit, Brown is specifically interested in the Sewanee coal seam that lies under much of the Cumberland Plateau. Considered by many geologists to be one of the most toxic coal seams east of the Mississippi, local residents face water quality problems from the highly sulfuric runoff of mountaintop removal sites. Acid mine drainage continues to contaminate creeks, streams and drinking water sources – even years after active mining has ceased.

About his work, Brown states, “In general, I want to initiate a dialogue about the complex layers and issues connected to the system of coal mining and the consequences of our collective dependence on coal as an energy source. I am also exploring other extractive industries in my artwork such as hydraulic fracturing for natural gas. The impact of this contentious practice on our watersheds and landscape is just beginning to be understood, especially as new gas wells are opened in East Tennessee.”

Brown received his M.F.A. from the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence. He has been teaching sculpture at the University of Tennessee since 2001. Brown’s artwork has been exhibited nationally, including the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota; the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts in Grand Rapids, Michigan; and the DUMBO Arts Festival in Brooklyn, New York.

Carlos Gallery hours are Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-5 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 1-5 p.m.