House on Fascination Street
April 30 — June 6 2016
Saturday, April 30, 2016
Motel is pleased to announce House on Fascination Street, an exhibition of new works by Willie Stewart. Stewart was born in Gallatin, Tennessee, to family members of an outlaw motorcycle club. He was raised by his great-grandmother Doris, a seamstress, and homeschooled by his grandmother Susan, a truck-stop waitress. On weekdays, he went to work with his grandmother, where he played Dungeons and Dragons with the children of other waitresses. On weekends he would go to concerts - The Melvins and Kiss at The Pyramid in Memphis. These early, pre-teen experiences, infused with the subcultural ephemera of the 80s and 90s, were extremely influential to Willie. Always working from a primarily personal narrative, Willie recreates objects from his own past that speak to a larger collective consciousness and explore the nature of subculture itself.
In House on Fascination Street, Stewart presents an installation taking the concept of the rec-room as a central focus point through which to investigate ideas of identity and occult. The exhibition is centered around the parapsychological idea that everyday objects can contain paranormal psychic energy. Teenage fantasy comes to life in this re-imagined setting; band posters are swapped with images of the preternatural, a blown-up Ouji board invites the viewer to an ill-fated game, and amps for basement band practice function as psychedelic doorways to transcendental experiences beyond the room. The references on display are both broad and obscure, spanning literature, film, and music. At once blandly representational and starkly poetic, the works reflect on collective nostalgia, fear and superstition.
Willie Stewart (b. 1982) received his BFA from Cooper Union and is a 2018 MFA candidate at Yale School of Art. He was the recipient of an Alex Katz Fellowship while attending the Skowhegan School of Painting, Maine, and is a current resident at Pioneer Works in New York, where he lives and works. Stewart's work has been shown extensively, including presentations at SPRING/BREAK art fair, New York; 41 Cooper Gallery, New York; 40AU, Nashville; and a 2014 solo exhibition at kijidome, Boston.