Joel Ross: A Place Some People Call America

14 October - 12 November 2005

You all remember moniquemeloche’s inaugural show in 2001 when Joel Ross borrowed his mother’s bedroom?  Well, don’t miss his first solo show in 4 years A Place Some People Call America at moniquemeloche gallery opening next Friday, October 14th.  The obsessive and often subversive nature of this Texas-born artist continues to be revealed, but the current political climate cannot be avoided. From a major wall installation “Replicas of Flags I’ve Burned” to blinking light boxes of the US and Iraqi flags, Ross navigates the rugged emotional and intellectual terrain of a country caught between glory and shame. As usual, text plays an important part in Ross’ work and manifests itself in a series of black on black drawings taken from ubiquitous bumper stickers like “United We Stand,” “My SUV luvs Iraqi Oil” and “God Guns Glory.” The exhibition includes crisp photographs of random signs across the US landscape that celebrate the fading past of Americana while conjuring images of both hope and despair. And finally, we’ll get a different view of the motherland in a video installation produced this summer manipulating found footage of women flashing their breasts at events like Mardi Gras to melancholy and eerie effect.


“Everything I’m thinking about right now falls under an umbrella of examining a fucked up place called America. Like so many other citizens, I’ve been feeling a deep split in my emotions about our nation. I find it hard to look at or think about anything without holding it very self-consciously up to the light of this republic’s power and arrogance. The bottom line is I’m spending a lot of time thinking about what America is. I am simultaneously confused, disgusted, fascinated, weary, sad and angry. On paper (certain pieces of paper) this country holds so much promise, and I am still a strong believer in the fundamental principles this nation was built on. I’m also proud of many hard won changes that have occurred since those founding documents were written suffrage, civil rights, etc.). But clearly we are a most paradoxical nation, and the work I’m planning right now involves an examination of this paradox. I am particularly struck by the moral hypocrisy, which is visible everywhere, and the effectiveness of systematic dis-information.” JOEL ROSS summer 2005 


Ross has thankfully returned to our midst teaching at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign after a few years in the desert.  Born in Texas in 1966, Ross received his BFA from Tufts University in Massachusetts and his MFA from Cranbrook in Michigan. He has had solo exhibitions in Chicago, New York, and Lund Sweden and currently has work from his “Measuring Texas” series in the traveling exhibition “Going West” organized by ArtHouse at the Jones Center in Austin Texas.  He will make a new project with Rare Gallery in New York in 2006.