Bad Tattoos
Gina Dawson
Curated by Carl Gunhouse

252 Java Street, Brooklyn, New York
March 18 – April 23rd
Sundays 1-6PM

Opening Reception:
Saturday March 18, 6-9PM

Bad tattoos should not be a mark of shame but a badge that a person was impulsive, had questionable judgment or, in place of a better word, was young. Sadly, the contemporary art world is overpopulated with work made by artists who were never young enough to have had a bad tattoo, resulting in a glut of safe, bland art that neither offends nor thrills. The commitment to a tattoo when you are young, to what in retrospect might seem a terrible idea, is what I most appreciate about the art of Gina Dawson.

Her large sculptures are layers upon layers of personal signifiers and pop-culture references that constantly feel like they’re just about to fall in on themselves. Creating a visual tension is what happens when art is at its best or at least its most interesting. The tension comes from understanding the choices the artist has made, while at the same time sensing that the work is being pushed to its limits. This is the risk artists face tenfold every time they put new work out into the world,desperately hoping it won’t fall flat on its face. Dawson ups this ante even further by including very meticulously constructed objects into her large collaged sculptures, making it apparent that if the piece fails it will be at the cost of a great deal of time and effort.

Dawson’s large amorphous sculpturesare built up with various found objects and leftovers from previoussculptures. Each piece is tantamount to a small groupshow, locating Dawson’s art within a specificcultural milieu. The sculptures lay bare not only the things that meldtogether in Dawson’s subconscious as a creator, but moreimportantly open a window into the specific tastes and intereststhat define her as a person.

There is a generosity to Dawson’sart: in many ways, the point of the work is that it is okay not to likeit. Almost everything that goes into her pieces are, on the surface,cultural waste that clogs up lawn sales--from bright gaudypuzzles to Scream movies, large porcelain Dalmatians and pinkgeodes. Not liking these things is completely reasonable, but Dawson hasan uncanny eye for color and her skill at self-curating elevates allthese discarded objects in such a loving fashion that it is hard to understandhow anyone could doubt their value. What Dawson has done is make-workfor all of us who unapologetically indulge in guiltypleasures, love lawn sales and are completely atpeace following our inclinations regardless of conventional culturalvalues. Dawson has made a body of work that revels gloriously in theself-confidence to dance awkwardly at weddings, sing off key at karaoke, generallyenjoy oneself and end up with a bad tattoo or two.

Gina Dawson was born in Dallas, TX andlives and works in Brooklyn, NY. She received a BFA from the University ofNorth Texas in 2002 and an MFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts,Boston, in 2005. She has had solo exhibitions in Paris and Boston as well asmultiple group exhibitions in Texas, Boston, Baltimore, and New York. Dawsonhas a diverse studio and sculptural practice, which mostly involves incrediblylaborious processes that often result in objects she is unsatisfied with. Likemost artists this leads her to make even more objects.

Carl Gunhouse is an AdjunctFaculty member at Nassau Community College and Montclair State University. Hereceived his M.F.A. from Yale University and B.F.A. from Fordham University.Carl’s work has exhibited at Photoville, Spring Break Art Show, the Center forPhotography at Woodstock, the Rhode Island School of Design Museum of ModernArt, the Foto Galería FCE-UNC, Córdoba, Argentina, as well as shows in England, Russia,Sweden, Netherlands, Iceland, Finland and New Zealand. His pictures have been featured in Vice, The New York Timesand Maximum Rocknroll. He has had monographs published by Waal-Boght Press andArts & Sciences Press. He is a co-founder and director of TransmitterGallery. He also writes art criticism on the website Searching for The Light.Carl has recently been working on a project on professional wrestling, punkrock and Downtown Brooklyn.

For press and general inquiries, please contact Carl Gunhouse at or917.881.3576

Using Format