Katie Bell “A Place for Everything and Everything in Its Place” and Austin Ballard “Shadow Lake”

Smack Mellon

poster for Katie Bell “A Place for Everything and Everything in Its Place” and Austin Ballard “Shadow Lake”

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Smack Mellon presents two solo exhibitions, Katie Bell: A Place for Everything and Everything in Its Place and Austin Ballard: Shadow Lake, opening concurrently on March 9, 2019. Both artists create work inspired by the designed and built environment but adopt their own unique approaches. Katie Bell takes discarded and readymade objects to construct immense assemblages that match the industrial scale of Smack Mellon’s building. Austin Ballard, on the other hand, turns his focus onto household objects, specifically light fixtures and lampshades, to create a more intimate setting that resembles a suburban domestic interior. In both of these projects, however, the artists call attention to the way that architecture and design objects shape-whether dramatically or subtly-how we see and respond to the world.

The sculptures in Bell’s site-specific installation, A Place for Everything and Everything in Its Place, act as marks, strokes, and fields of color, creating a painting language in architectural scale. Smack Mellon’s industrial interior-24-foot-high wall, steel columns, and cement floor-serves as the support for this sculptural painting. The work is also inspired by the dramatic setting of the DUMBO neighborhood, including the dominant scale of its bridges, the East River, and the flotsam that washes up on its banks, where chunks of foam have been worn away to resemble gravel. Made up of found, manipulated, and crafted objects, Bell’s work questions what comprises our visual landscape and how the artificial is often disguised as natural to give it an aura of grandeur. Included are discarded hot tub fragments clad in faux marble and fake rocks from a department store window display. In this immense rubble, the artist imagines what future ruins might look like, an environment in which the natural and the fabricated have become so inextricably merged that stone, fiberglass, and plastic are no longer distinguishable from one another.

For his project Shadow Lake, Ballard draws from childhood recollections to create an installation of floating light sculptures and venetian blinds. Often traveling between parents and grandparents growing up, his grandmother’s house in Charlotte, NC, became a symbol of stability because of the way she organized her home. However, attempting to conjure the experience of this domestic space became a disorienting exercise for the artist. As Ballard placed each light sculpture according to hazy recollections of the floor plan, the layering of lampshades in the installation develops into a metaphor for fallible memories. The shadows cast from the woven shades onto the gallery walls further heightens the feeling of distortion, as one might experience during a flashback. Through repeated patterns and fragmentation, Ballard’s work calls attention to the lag, slippage, and reinterpretation of even our most cherished memories.



from March 09, 2019 to April 21, 2019
Artist Talk: April 4, 6:30-7:30 PM

Opening Reception on 2019-03-09 from 18:00 to 20:00

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