NANCY GRUSKIN + JORDAN KESSLER
What We Had On Hand
August 1 - 22, 2020
LaiSun Keane is pleased to announce a two-person exhibition of Boston-area artists, Nancy Gruskin and Jordan Kessler, titled What We Had on Hand, from August 1 - 22, 2020, to be held at our special Pop-Up location at 15 Central St, Wellesley, Massachusetts.
What We Had On Hand presents a juxtaposition of two artists’ work made during the ongoing pandemic lockdown. Nancy Gruskin and Jordan Kessler work with different art mediums but serendipitously produced works that were inspired by found objects. Their works are different interpretations of still life from diverse points of views and mediums.
In her series of paintings and wood sculptures, Nancy Gruskin eschews a narrative for a more improvisational approach to composition. Many of the objects depicted are personal items that were readily accessible during the months of the COVID-19 lockdown. The same tulips, decorative boxes, vases, and ceramic pieces appear repeatedly, but not as a traditional arrangement of still life objects. Rather, Gruskin’s compositions are free-form and imagined, expressing her overarching interest in shape and color. The artist’s hand appears quite literally in each of the works, a reminder of touch and humanity during uncertain times. The seven “Cut-Outs” exhibited also reflect the pandemic’s effect on Gruskin’s studio practice. Originally envisioned as slabs of glazed clay, these works morphed into wood sculptures cut with a band saw when the coronavirus forced the closure of local ceramics studios.
Gruskin studied art and art history at Connecticut College and received a PhD in art history from Boston University. She currently teaches painting, collage and digital drawing at the Concord Center for the Visual Arts in Concord, Massachusetts.
Jordan Kessler has the uncanny ability to see beyond the object. For example, in his ‘Batteries’ series, Kessler photographed thousands of alkaline batteries as non-recognizable entities; inviting the viewer to question the visuals presented. Through his photographic lens, he used this period of isolation to reflect on existentialism as one has to live with their own company for abnormally long time. For Kessler, isolation and solitude fueled a side of creativity that resulted in this new body of work. Works made in response to staring at oneself in the mirror while having limited access to objects yet still finding beauty in the mundane. This exhibition is a reminder that art inspires and comforts especially in challenging times.
Kessler earned a BFA in filmmaking and a MFA in photography from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, and is the co-owner of Pitch Black Editions in Concord, Massachusetts.
A virtual reception will be held via Zoom on August 1, 5 - 6pm EST and a meet the artist event at our pop-up location at 15 Central St Wellesley MA on August 8, 5 – 6pm. Please email to RSVP for the Virtual Reception and Meet The Artist can be booked on our website.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Working from home is nothing new for me. My studio is on the second floor of my house and my surroundings and family figure prominently in my work. Still, this period of isolation and uncertainty has had its effect. The paintings in this series come from an urge to escape—to escape both the headlines of the day and the concept of narrative painting. There’s no overt story told. The compositions are improvised and imagined, although the forms reference objects I live with every day. The wood cut-outs were originally envisioned as slabs of glazed clay, but the closure of the ceramics studio precipitated a change in materials. Throughout the work, there is a common thread of humanity and growth; potential during unsettling times.
Nancy Gruskin (b. 1968) lives and works in Concord, Massachusetts. She received a B.A. in Art History and Studio Art from Connecticut College and an M.A. and a Ph.D. in Art History from Boston University. Gruskin’s work emerges from her everyday experiences and is based on a combination of direct observation, invention, and memory. She represents the people and objects around her through an exploration of shape and color. Gruskin has shown in numerous galleries including Galatea Fine Art in Boston, Able Baker Contemporary in Portland, Maine, Art at Kings Oaks in Pennsylvania, and the Bowery, First Street and Prince Street Galleries in New York City. She teaches painting, collage, and digital drawing at the Concord Center for the Visual Arts.
2018 Interview with Boston Voyager magazine, available at
2017 Interview with Jimon Magazine, available at
2017 Interview with Antrese Wood, Savvy Painter podcast, available at
The dimension I occupied personally for the past 4 months was mostly one of solitude. This wasn't far removed from my normal routine but it was a deeper level of it. I was prepared for the quiet and in many ways craved it. Most days the only living being I saw was the one brushing his teeth in the mirror just like me. The mirror allows one to witness that they do indeed exist- A tool for self-reference and reminding. Within these images there are repeated shapes, objects and references- Parallel dimensions that are re-staged. Fossils, bones, candy, office supplies, dishes, vanity and implements, protective gear, packing and building material... the utilitarian scatterings of our culture, elevated to artifacts of our existence, combined with proof of a history inconceivably far into the past and portals into a proof that someone was there curating and staging it all- watching himself exist.
Born in Framingham, Massachusetts, 1979
Lives and works in Massachusetts
2019 “Battery”, (solo exhibition) de Menil Gallery at the Groton School, Groton, MA
2016 “Jolt: Guns, Race, and Immigration”, Trustman Art Gallery at Simmons College, Boston, MA
2016 Frances N. Roddy Competition, Concord Art Association, Concord, MA
2015 Frances N. Roddy Competition, Concord Art Association, Concord, MA
2014 Transfer: Works From Twelve Printmakers, Westtown School, West Chester, PA
2014 “Lead and Silver”, (solo exhibition) Gallery Kayafas, Boston, MA
2013 MFA Thesis Show, Bakalar and Paine Gallery, Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Boston, MA 2012 Patriotic Expressions, Gallery Kayafas, Boston, MA
2012 Photographers’ Exhibition, Magenta Foundation’s Flash Forward Festival, the Robert Klein Gallery
2011 New England Photography Biennial, Danforth Museum of Art, Framingham, MA
2009 New England Photography Biennial, Danforth Museum of Art, Framingham, MA
2007 “Hudson Area Study No.1”, (solo exhibition) Hudson Town Hall, Hudson, MA
2015 - Present, Co-owner of Pitch Black Editions, a fine art frame and printing shop, Concord, MA 2003 - 2015, Fine art photographic printer, Palm Press Photographic Atelier, Boston, MA Selected print work:
Frank Gohlke, Harry Callahan, Dennis Hopper, Abelardo Morell, Arno Minkkinen, George Butler, Nicholas Nixon, Bill Burke, Arthur King, Harold Feinstein, Herbert Matter for the Alexander Calder Foundation, Pirkle Jones Foundation, Cahiers d'Art.
2013-2014 Instructor, Introduction to Black and White Photography, Massachusetts College of Art, Boston, MA
2012-2013 Teaching Assistant, Introduction to View Camera, Massachusetts College of Art, Boston, MA 2006-2008 Assistant to photographer Frank Gohlke
2013 Masters of Fine Art in Photography, Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Boston, MA