Exhibit: Domestic Matters at OSU Urban Arts Space

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Southern childhoods for Mair Culbreth and Nicole Bauguss (both grew up in North Carolina) left the two as adults oscillating between fighting the region's strict ideologies of gender and sexuality and defending its traditions of community and self-reliance.

The married duo is behind the new exhibit at the OSU Urban Arts Space, "Domestic Matters: Distilling Geographies, Identities and Boundaries." It pairs Bauguss' and Culbreth's different mediums - constructive art and dance, respectively - to get at the root of their Southern identity and deconstruct the definitions they find there.

Imagery of the region abounds in Bauguss' various installation pieces. Church pews, quilts and clothing lines are important aspects of different works.

Mason jars dangle from string in a piece called "Jarred Heart," which also features a video of Bauguss' grandmother kneading dough. The work studies self-dependence and memory stored in the body.

"I used to ask her how long you had to knead," Bauguss said. "She always said, 'You just know.'"

Bauguss will be giving bread-making classes in this installation, as well, furthering the couple's wish that viewers "dig in."

"We want to show art as the manifestation of daily practices," she said. "These pieces integrate beauty and functionality. We want people to be interactive with our work."

"Outhouse Confessionals" pairs that wish for viewer feedback with the spirituality of the South. Two outhouses made of repurposed house paneling, with small windows conjuring the religious ritual of confession on either side, are ripe for graffiti.

"I'm really fascinated by people's ability to confess everything on a bathroom wall," Bauguss said. "I want people to go in there and write what they feel."

Culbreth's contributions include dance pieces inside and on Bauguss' work.

In "Jarred Heart," dancers confront the ritualized role of women to a sound score of text from the Beecher sisters' book "American Woman's Home: Or, Principles of Domestic Science" and sound clips from a defibrillator.

"The Wallflower Set" centers on a dance routine where four dancers perform on a climbing wall in vintage ball gowns. Inspired by her grandmother, who was a social dance teacher, Culbreth examines "the way culture maps values on our bodies and what happens when we naturally start pushing against it. Like being taught to cross our legs. How would we sit if we hadn't been told to do that?"

Despite the focus on the South, Culbreth said what viewers will take away from the exhibit is universal: "To value the everyday and the spaces that we live our lives."

Domestic Matters

Through March 31

OSU Urban Arts Space

50 W. Town St., Downtown