Susie Ganch

Visual Arts Center of Richmond
1812 West Main Street
April 4, 2014–June 7, 2014

Susie Ganch, Bale, 2014, giclée print, 34 x 52”.

Ethical metalworking, sustainability, and recycled detritus figure prominently in Richmond-based Susie Ganch’s two-part exhibition. “Susie Ganch: Tied” offers independent work while the Radical Jewelry Makeover project, founded by Ganch in 2007 as an outreach program of the nonprofit Ethical Metalsmiths, presents a collaborative endeavor that repurposes unwanted jewelry.

Although separate practices, both allow Ganch to highlight the discarded and unwanted, ranging from everyday things to gold and diamonds. For her own work, she achieves this by magnifying scale through accumulation and using impeccable precision to elevate waste into aesthetic objects. Drag, 2013, for example, is a dialogue of found materials: plastic cups and hair barrettes to faux feathers and glass beads. As a series of gradually expanding, interconnected links, the deceptively elegant pile of garbage hooks into the wall, thereby creating an indelible tension between growth and restriction. Pile: Starbucks on Robinson, April–December 2012, 2013, a sea of undulating white Starbucks tops arranged to mimic a three-dimensional hanging tapestry, and Bale, 2014, a stockpile of white garbage rolled up to resemble a life-size hay bale, use similar materials but abandon metalworking techniques for sculptural installation.

With these works, Ganch undermines the viewer’s reaction; this is not just well-composed garbage. Rather, she reframes the three-dimensional objects with photographs or suggestive titles, directly alluding to questions about consumerism, ethical standards of global retailers, and mass production. Bale reappears in a Photoshopped print, with one white garbage bale after another dotting a nondescript pastoral landscape. Drag, both sculpture and bracelet, stymies the wearer when it becomes a weighted chain. In each installation, Ganch places implication equally on buyer and producer as the innumerable individual parts are held together to form a gestalt. Ultimately, Ganch—the artist and the activist—is most successful when she straddles the in-between spaces, changing our perception of the permissible and polemically probing our assumptions.

— Amanda Dalla Villa Adams