CUR(EAT): Michael O'Malley
CUR(EAT): Michael O’Malley
"The oven project serves as an artistic gesture aimed at re-considering the built environment . Using a workshop format to teach oven building and bread making, the piece offers participants an opportunity to learn and reshape their social and physical environments." - Artist Michael O'Malley
Saturday, August 3, 1 - 4 pm
The Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts is proud to present the first part of a two-part exhibition with artist Michael O’Malley’s installation of a mobile wood-fired oven sculpture in the Constance S. and Robert J. Hennessy Project Space as part of CUR(EAT). An exhibition of socially engaged artworks that combine learning and ritual with the sensory experience of taste in the creative and curatorial process, CUR(EAT) invites visitors to observe and participate in O’Malley’s social sculpture. In addition to building the oven in the gallery and allowing visitors to observe and share in his construction process as part of the DCCA’s educational programming around CUR(EAT), O’Malley will also offer dough-making workshops and the opportunity for visitors to learn about ovens and to bake their own bread.
O’Malley’s artistic emphasis on basic materials such as bricks and mortar recalls the significance that Minimalist artists of the 1960s and 70s placed on the reduction of art to its necessary elements. O’Malley also highlights the idea that sculptural objects can be generative models for meaningful work and collective cultural involvement. In 1960, the American artist Mierle Ukeles declared, “My working will be the work.” Her focus on the act of cleaning and interacting with the sanitation service workers of New York City underscored issues of class and gender in the United States. While Ukeles focused on the value of traditional women’s and blue-collar work, O’Malley combines a whole systems approach to his social and labor-intensive sculptural process—from growing and harvesting wheat to building ovens and baking bread—demonstrating the way many contemporary artists seek to reconcile disparities between art and life and nature and culture in their work. O’Malley’s comprehensive creative process is an aesthetic form that confronts urgent environmental, social, economic demands.
Michael O’Malley was born in South Bend, Indiana, grew up in Northern California, and currently lives and works in Los Angeles and the Catskills of New York. He studied ceramics as an undergraduate at Alfred University in New York and while earning a Masters of Fine Arts from Stanford University, focused on large-scale installations that altered perceptual and social situations of the body. O’Malley has since engaged the aesthetics and conventions that shape the built environment, and his latest work explores ideas of community, social, and sustainable artistic practice. He is Associate Professor of Art at Pomona College, in Claremont, California.