In early October, I will be giving a talk about the work of the interdisciplinary visual artist, Kirsten Stolle, who works with texts and images to expose the complications of the chemical industrial complex, particularly in the U.S. I exhibited the work of Kirsten Stolle as part of the major exhibition Art’s Work in the Age of Biotechnology at North Carolina State University, and I have written about her work in academic publications on art-science and critical modes of aesthetic engagement. I’m glad to have the opportunity to focus on her solo show at the Halsey and to consider the role research, particularly archives, play in her artistic practice.
The Artist in the Archive: The Art-Science Discoveries of Kirsten Stolle, exhibition essayist lecture
Halsey Institute Galleries
Tuesday, October 4, 7:00 PM
Exhibition Essay Excerpt
From The Artist in the Archive: The Discoveries of Kirsten Stolle
Stolle’s work not only gleans from corporate fields but also plants new ideas for viewers. Art-science work can be thought of in four major categories: conveyance, contributive, contextual, and critical modes (note 1). Stolle’s artworks carry all of these categories. Combined, they offer viewers new discoveries about relationships for which they may have never seen textual evidence. Information is being conveyed through this but so are critical modes with which viewers can approach these details with an understanding of the broader context of corporate connections. This gives rise to the most exciting aspect to Stolle’s work: its potential to contribute new knowledge by bringing together newly formed strands of thought which can form into new narratives for viewers.
The artist in the archive returns to us with innovative ways to visualize social realities and relationships achieved through seductive colors and forms that draw us into textual complications. Even as the artist reveals our condition through dystopic histories, her works lead viewers toward awareness of Bayer-Monsanto and Dow’s greenwashing by exposing their historical connections to warfare and encouraging viewers toward curiosity about the role of such companies in their everyday lives. Stolle’s works leave open the possibility of the better future chemical companies could never provide: the future Stolle has planted through these artworks.
1. Along with Megan K. Halpern, I offered a preliminary version of this typology which can help to analyze the contributions of projects at the intersection of art and science. See Rogers and Halpern, “Art-Science Collaborations, Complexities, and Challenges,” in Routledge Handbook of Public Communication of Science and Technology, 3rd edition, eds. Massimiano Bucchi and Brian Trench, 214-237 (New York: Routledge, 2021).
Kirsten Stolle: Only You Can Prevent A Forest is funded in part by a grant from South Arts in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the South Carolina Arts Commission, and with the generous support of Charleston magazine, and Mindelle Seltzer and Robert Lovinger.
See more of Kirsten Stolle’s art and read the exhibition essay here: https://halsey.cofc.edu/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/kirsten-stolle-exhibition-brochure-page_smlr.pdf