May 6, 2018 – September 3, 2018

Opening: May 6, 2018 (3:00 pm – 6:00 pm)

Artists: Virginia Overton

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Socrates Sculpture Park is delighted to present Built, a parkwide solo exhibition of newly commissioned works by Virginia Overton that refashion found materials with dynamism and potency. In succinct, elegant forms, often accompanied with wry humor, Overton addresses concepts of labor, economics, and the land in today’s society. Her material choices–fundamental elements for construction and fabrication–combined with her axiomatic approach to process, evoke narratives of self-reliance, creative constraints, and expediency. At the Park, Overton creates new iterations of ongoing forms – altered pick-up trucks, a water feature, a roof truss gem sculpture, a suspended work, and a billboard, among others.

The show’s largest piece is a crystal-shaped sculpture made of industrial architectural truss systems and angle iron spanning 40 feet. Overton’s structure combines two truss types, creating a series of pitched trusses by joining parallel Warren truss members. These amalgamated trusses ring the hollow central core of the gem structure, producing a muscular polygon of steel beams and porous facets that cantilevers over the ground.

Additionally, Overton transforms a 1990 Ford F250 pickup truck with a cloak of dark blue, almost-black, paint exploring the pickup as a tool, a symbol of a mobility and ambition, and as a sculptural material. Considering the forces of gravity, momentum, and inertia, the show also presents a found pine joist suspended from the Socrates artist studio’s homemade gantry. A water feature and aquatic garden in the bed of Dodge Ram that Overton has  used in other exhibitions complement these works, drawing attention to the Park as part of larger ecosystems both physical (the East River Estuary) and social (the alternative art space community). Together these pieces reflect on our world’s shared physical properties and systems, suggesting communal and environmental precariousness and evolution.

Weaving together these works is their shared role as support structures, both in their original purpose and in their new generative articulations. The wooden beams and trusses are elements that repeat through the exhibition, revealing these materials’ multiple capacities as tools. Situated in the changing, once-industrial waterfront neighborhood of Long Island City, the works shed their former functions without nostalgia. Instead, Overton’s works exhibit the vitality of creative reuse, the ingenuity of traditional forms of vernacular making, and an entwined admiration and wonder towards the physical and material world around us.

A publication documents the exhibition and provides scholarship on Overton’s oeuvre with a focus on her outdoor works with essays by Johanna Burton, Keith Haring Director and Curator of Education and Public Engagement, New Museum; Kari Cwynar, Curator, Don River Valley Park Art Program; Leah Pires, PhD Candidate, Department of Art History, Columbia University; and Jess Wilcox, Director of Exhibitions, Socrates Sculpture Park. The catalogue will be released in fall 2018 and will be available for purchase through Socrates’ website.


The publication is made possible by the Henry Luce Foundation.

Built is organized by Socrates Sculpture Park and curated by Jess Wilcox, Director of Exhibitions. The exhibition is made possible with generous support from Lambent Foundation, Henry Luce Foundation, the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation, White Cube, and Bortolami Gallery, with additional support provided by Spacetime C.C. The exhibition is also supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

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