By Angel Trinh
Photos by Karynn Brown
March 5, 2018
Tugboat Gallery, 116 N. 14th St., held the opening ceremony for its March installation, “Thick as Thieves,” on First Friday last week from 7 to 10 p..m. The displayed artwork–which will be presented through March 30 — was created by a trio of friends from Des Moines, Iowa: Rachel Buse, Jennifer Leatherby, and Tiffany Sinnott.
Buse’s hometown is Lincoln but she lives in Des Moines as a sculptor who works with fabric to play with proportion and scale, emphasizing the physical weight of emotions. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2008. Buse has been creating interactive sculptures for the past ten years. She wants people to be able to touch, feel and explore her work. One of her pieces in the exhibit was shaped like a conveyor belt that observers could pull on. She calls it a time machine which has no past or future, only “now, now, now and now.” She wants people to live in the moment when they pull on the fabric of the time machine.
Leatherby is a painter, illustrator, installation and performance artist whose work often references oppressed groups, space, and existence. Her contribution to the show was mixed media work called “Bruised Birds, Empty Nests.” She filled the room with pieces of cotton on the floor, surrounding nests, with twigs, tampons and abstract pastel paintings hanging on the walls. She wanted to speak to the reality in which American women live, expressing a woman’s right to choose. Young women are often called birds and at least one in every six women is sexually assaulted in her life. The unused tampons represent pregnancy, menopause, or any other state of a female reproductive system — the nest — which is empty because abortion was declared legal for all Americans in 1973, but countless laws to restrict access to this right have been made since then.
“A woman’s right to choose if and when to have a family is essential for equality,” said Leatherby, in her artist statement.
Sinnott is a multimedia artist that uses video-installation and sculptural works that deal with the poetics of space, action and ethics. Her section of “Thick as Thieves” was called “Piece de Resistance.” Her work used cupcakes to represent trolls which spur negative emotions on an endless cycle. Her intent was to show people that we need to resist the temptation of responding to hate with more hate with her animation, propaganda posters, and inflatable. Her underlying message in the show is to knock down trolls before they get to big, without being violent. “Thick as Thieves” is her first show in Lincoln.
Buse, Leatherby, and Sinnott started on this show about a year ago. The president had just been elected, and they felt like they were about to lose many things. They said they asked each other, “how do we take things back for ourselves?” They found their outlet in their art, creating a show that illuminates their perspectives of the realities, abstractions, and infrastructures of their lives.
“The most meaningful thing we could do was being there for each other in the face of change,” said Buse.
The three friends decided to hold their show at Tugboat Gallery because it was the place that spurred Buse’s love for art. Her very first art show was at Tugboat — when it was still in the basement of Gomez Art Supply with a dirt floor — where she was enamored by the rawness she saw in art.
“Showing at Tugboat has always my dream,” said Buse.
Angel Trinh and Karynn Brown are interns with KZUM.