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11/11/2009 Houston—The Glassell School of Art’s Core Exhibition Program presents the most recent body of work by Los Angeles-based artist Jennifer Pastor. Opening on December 11 with a lecture and reception, the exhibition Dead Landscape is an installation of some 40 drawings and photographs that juxtaposes archival materials from wars involving the U.S. with Pastor’s drawings and photographs of culturally sanctioned, organized fights (from cage fighting and gladiator events to the Ultimate Fighting Heavy Weight Championship). Exhibited at Greengrassi in London earlier this year, the Houston showing will be the first presentation of Dead Landscape in the United States. An additional element to the exhibition—a large-scale sculpture titled Endless Arena and inspired by the same line of inquiry as the Dead Landscape installation—will be shown later this year across the street from the Glassell School, in the MFAH’s Caroline Wiess Law Building.

“Jennifer Pastor has been exhibiting her work at national and international venues since the early 1990s, including showings at the 2003 Venice Biennale and a 2004 solo show at the Whitney Museum of American Art,” said Glassell School of Art director Joseph Havel. “She has been working on Dead Landscape for several years, and the show at the Glassell School this winter will be the first time that this new body of work has been exhibited in the United States.”

“Jennifer Pastor has been a great inspiration to the current group of Core Fellows, and the exhibition and Pastor’s visit to Houston really originated from their efforts and interests,” said Mary Leclère, associate director of the Glassell Core Program and organizer of the Houston showing of Dead Landscape. “During a number of informal meetings, Pastor’s name kept coming up in conversations about research-based sculptural practices and the re-emergence of ‘the object’ in art. We decided that Pastor ought to be involved in the conversation, and are delighted that the artist will exhibit and lecture here in Houston.”

The project Dead Landscape emerged from Pastor’s research interviewing veteran combat artists from various campaigns, including World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Occupation of Iraq. During this time, Pastor also sought to find “on the spot” sketches of action during battle or (in the artist’s words) “first impressions . . . before the artist/soldier has had a chance to order his experience (although this type of drawing is quite rare).” To this end, Pastor gained access to archival drawings and photographs belonging to veteran combat artists, as well as collections belonging to the National Military Archives of the Navy, Army, and Marines in Quantico, VA and Washington, D.C. Many of the archived drawings had never been on view before, and Pastor photographed and drew the archived objects.

While researching soldier-artists’ portrayals of war, Pastor also began attending local and national organized fights, creating her own “on the spot” drawings and photographs documenting what she saw. Within the installation, the artist’s documentation of archival photographs and drawings are paired with the artist’s own “on the spot” drawing and photographs, creating interesting juxtapositions.

A sculpture, titled Endless Arena, also emerged from Pastor’s line of inquiry regarding impressions of war. Made of fiber enforced cement and approximately 15 feet long and 12 feet wide, Endless Arena is composed of a hexagonal fighting arena and bleachers (both hovering six inches off the ground), with large figurative drawings flanking each side of the hexagon. The work will be installed later this spring in Cullinan Hall (Caroline Wiess Law Building). The artist describes the sculpture as “an agitation of unfinished business [from Dead Landscape]. . . A bit of fantasy hybrid, constructed from some of the most peculiar situations, loose memories and perceptions, and the more ‘impossible’ drawings from those events.”