Hannah Epstein

Monster World

January 6 – February 10, 2018

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Hannah Epstein. Monster World, Installation view, Steve Turner, January-February 2018

Hannah Epstein. Monster World, Installation view, Steve Turner, January-February 2018

Hannah Epstein. Monster World, Installation view, Steve Turner, January-February 2018

Hannah Epstein. Monster World, Installation view, Steve Turner, January-February 2018

Hannah Epstein. Monster World, Installation view, Steve Turner, January-February 2018

Hannah Epstein. Monster World, Installation view, Steve Turner, January-February 2018

Hannah Epstein. Monster World, Installation view, Steve Turner, January-February 2018

Hannah Epstein. Mischief Crew, 2017. Acrylic, cotton, polyester and burlap. 31 x 49 inches (78.7 x 124.5 cm)

Hannah Epstein. Medusa, 2017. Acrylic, cotton, polyester and burlap. 22 x 18 inches (55.9 x 45.7 cm)

Hannah Epstein. BitchPLZ, 2015. Wool, acrylic, cotton, polyester and burlap, 20 1/2 x 18 inches (52.1 x 45.7 cm)

Hannah Epstein. Am I An Animal, 2014.
Wool, acrylic, cotton, polyester and burlap. 34 x 36 inches (86.4 x 91.4 cm)

Hannah Epstein. The Punch, 2017. Wool, acrylic and burlap. 9 x 13 inches (22.9 x 33 cm)

Hannah Epstein. It's Britney Bitch, 2017. Acrylic, cotton, polyester and burlap. 20 x 13 inches (50.8 x 33 cm)

Hannah Epstein. Demon Girl with Cat, 2014. Wool, acrylic, cotton, polyester and burlap. 16 x 11 inches (40.6 x 27.9 cm)

Hannah Epstein. The Dream of the Memelord's Wife, 2017. Wool, acrylic, polyester and burlap. 30 x 32 inches (76.2 x 81.3 cm)

Hannah Epstein. Making Fun of War, 2017. Acrylic and burlap. 54 x 50 inches (137.2 x 127 cm)

Hannah Epstein. Help Me, 2016. Wool, acrylic and burlap. 17 x 10 1/2 inches (43.2 x 26.7 cm)

Hannah Epstein. Magic Head, 2013. Used clothes, wool, acrylic and burlap. 18 x 14 inches (45.7 x 35.6 cm)

Hannah Epstein. Making Fun of War, 2017. Acrylic and burlap. 54 x 50 inches (137.2 x 127 cm)

Hannah Epstein. 9 Ahngry Babes, 2017. Wool, acrylic and burlap, 18 x 18 inches (45.7 x 45.7 cm)

Hannah Epstein. Lovers, 2015. Wool, acyrlic and burlap, 21 x 10 1/2 inches (53.3 x 26.7 cm)

Hannah Epstein. Soft Teeth, 2017. Wool, acrylic, polyester and burlap. 48 x 35 inches (121.9 x 88.9 cm)

Hannah Epstein. The Hybrid Kid, 2017. Acrylic, cotton, polyester and burlap. 66 x 47 inches (167.6 x 119.4 cm)

Hannah Epstein.SAD, 2017. Wool, acrylic, polyester and burlap,
24 x 18 inches (61 x 45.7 cm)

Hannah Epstein. Mouser, 2017. Wool, acrylic, cotton, polyester and burlap. 55 x 41 inches (139.7 x 104.1 cm)

Hannah Epstein. Bad Mascot, 2017. Wool, acrylic, polyester and burlap. 32 x 42 inches (81.3 x 106.7 cm)

Hannah Epstein. Eats its Young, 2017. Wool, acrylic, polyester and burlap. 38 x 64 inches (96.5 x 162.6 cm)

Hannah Epstein. Milo, 2017. Acrylic, polyester and burlap. 23 x 26 inches (58.4 x 66 cm)

Hannah Epstein. Crazy Beaver, 2013. Wool, acrylic and burlap,
9 1/2 x 14 inches (24.1 x 35.6 cm)

Hannah Epstein. It Flies Around the Room, 2017. Wool, acrylic, polyester and burlap. 28 x 45 inches (71.1 x 114.3 cm)

Hannah Epstein. Kablooooeeey, 2017. Wool, acrylic, polyester and burlap. 31 x 15 inches (78.7 x 38.1 cm)

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Steve Turner is pleased to present Monster World, a solo exhibition by Toronto-based Hannah Epstein that consists of a selection of brightly colored hooked rugs that depict a variety of monsters as imagined by the artist, whether derived from her study of folklore, her visual backlog of TV images, or from her interest in internet memes.  

Epstein grew up in Halifax, Nova Scotia, a cold, grey peninsula where she sought refuge indoors watching television. The sharp contrast between the saturated, colorful images on TV and the monotony of her surroundings had a big impact on the artist, and when later, she studied folklore at Memorial University in Newfoundland, she realized that TV had provided her with a visual vocabulary of cartoon and pop culture images that resonate with the folkloric tradition.

A few years later Epstein learned how to make hooked rugs which has enabled her to use a traditional craft medium to become a folklorist in the Internet age. Epstein’s monsters, whether crazy cats, spooky hybrid animals, or a wild-eyed, shaved-headed Brittney Spears, remind us that monsters have long been lurking in the corners of our imagination.

Hannah Epstein earned a BA from Memorial University of Newfoundland (2009) and an MFA from Carnegie Mellon (2017). Her work has been included in exhibitions in Canada and the United States since 2011. This is her first exhibition at Steve Turner.

Born 1985, Halifax, Nova Scotia
Lives and works in Toronto

Education
2017    MFA, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh
2011    Canadian Film Centre Media Lab
2009   Newfoundland Independent Film Co-Op
             BA in Folklore and Religious Studies, Memorial University of Newfoundland

Solo and Two-Person Exhibitions
2018   Monster World, Steve Turner, Los Angeles
2017   
As The Fidget Spinner Turns, Bunker Projects, Pittsburgh
2016   
The Steaks Have Never Been Greater, The FRAME Gallery, Pittsburgh
            Timecraft, The FRAME Gallery, Pittsburgh
2015   Service #4: Prey at Play, Neu Kirche Contemporary Art Center, Pittsburgh
            Killing it, 808 Gallery, Pittsburgh
2014   
memememememe, The Ellis Gallery, Pittsburgh
2012   
Backseat Animal, Cinecycle, Toronto

Group Exhibitions
2017   Speed Show: Playing Games, University of Wisconsin, Madison
            Lost/Found Biennial, CornerProjetcs, Chicago
            Nuit Blanche Art Party, House of VR, Toronto
            GAME ART VS ART GAME, Christian Petersen Art Museum, Ames, Iowa
            Canadian Craft Biennial: Nothing Is Newer Than Tradition, Art Gallery of Burlington, Burlington, ON
            Pop-Tarts and Pabst Fundraiser, Bunker 2 Contemporary Art Container, Toronto
            Roundtable Residency Reception, The Dragon Academy, Toronto
            Pleasure Dome, CineCyle, Toronto
            Vector Festival | Local Host, Black Cat Gallery, Toronto
            Cabinet, David B. Smith Gallery, Denver
            FAM, The Miller Gallery, Pittsburgh
            Text Me, Pierro Gallery, South Orange, New Jersey
2016   It took a while….,Harry Wood Gallery, Tempe, Arizona
            Satin Finish, Slayer Gallery, online
            Bodacioussss, The Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, Denver
            The Cut and The Crumb, The Frame Gallery, Pittsburgh
            Art Game VS Game Art, VGA Gallery, Chicago
            Parkdale Film & Video Showcase: Close To Home, Gallery 1313, Toronto
            8-Hour Project: Failure, Allegheny College Gallery, Meadville
            Game Art VS Art Game, VGA Gallery, Chicago
            Different Games Arcade, NYU Polytech, Brooklyn
            What’s a Steak, 5122 Penn Ave, Pittsburgh
2015   15
Performances in an Hour, Neu Kirche Contemporary Art Center, Pittsburgh, PA, December 6, 2015
              MAKEnight: Aquatic, Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, December 3, 2015
             Rules For An Other Self, Boom Concepts, Pittsburgh, PA, October 2, 2015
             Home Economics, Textile Museum of Canada, Toronto, ON, September 24, 2015 – February 8, 2016
             Pop Montreal, Pop Quartiers, Montreal, Quebec, September 16 -20, 2015
             Internet Yami-Ichi, Knockdown Centre, Maspeth
            Papes, The Rum Room Gallery, Pittsburgh
            Fun Dip, Mist Gallery, online
            Prism Pipe presents Crystal Ball, Pehrspace, Los Angeles
            New Additions # 7 VAPORWAVE, VIVO Media Arts Centre, Vancouver
            Images Festival, Art Gallery of Ontario, Jackman Hall, Toronto
           Accelerate, Niagara Artist Centre, St. Catherine’s
           Sidewalkscreening.mov, Whippersnapper Gallery, Toronto
2014   Garfart 11/12, Garfield Art Works, Pittsburgh
            Wade In, Eastern Edge Gallery, St. John’s
            The New Academy, Williamsburg Art & Historical Centre, Brooklyn
           VIA Festival, Union Trust Building, Pittsburgh
           Mean Time To Upgrade, InterAccess Gallery, Toronto
           Hard Twist, Gladstone Hotel, Toronto
           The Rainbow Volcano Explosion, Graven Feather, Toronto
           How Sweet It Is, Swoon Gallery, Halifax, Nova Scotia
           Sight and Sound Media Festival, Eastern Bloc, Montreal
           York Region Multi-Media Film Festival, Lebovic Centre, Stouffville
          Feminist Art Conference, Beaver Hall Gallery, Toronto
2013  
Long Winter Arcade, The Great Hall, Toronto
           STRUTT Wearable Art Show, WS Tyler, St. Catherine’s
           Queer Arcade, Videofag, Toronto
           BEND OVER! Images of Gender Exploitation, Show Gallery, Toronto
           AMC Arcade, Allied Media Conference 2013, Detroit
           NXNE Festival, Art Fair, Toronto
          Different Games Conference, Different Arcade, NYU Polytech, Brooklyn
          Vector Festival: net.works, Propeller Gallery, Toronto
2012  
HTMlles Festival, Studio XX, Montreal
           TIFF NEXUS Mini Arcade, TIFF, Metro Hall Rotunda, Toronto
          Punk Arcade, Little Berlin Gallery, Philadelphia
          UCLA Game Arts Festival, The Hammer Museum, Los Angeles

Awards
2017   Melissa Levin Emerging Artist Award, Textile Museum of Canada

Bibliography
2017    Hentai, Your Mom Jokes, And Memes, Juxtapoz, August 4, 2017
2016    Modern Hookers, The Globe & Mail, January 27, 2016
             FemHype, Blanket Fort Chats: Game Making with Hannah Epstein, January 8, 2016
2015    YYZ Gameshow, Interview 2015
2014   Meantime to Upgrade at InterAccess, Review 2014
2013   Have Surrealist Video Game Critique of Identity Politics Will Travel, NOW! Toronto,  Review, 2013
            Queer Arcade, Review, 2013
Hannah Epstein Wants to Get Sued, Killscreen, Interview, 2013
2012   McMickey & Air Jordan’s Hyperspace Safari! Review, 2012
Les Htmlles 10, Interview, 2012
The Difference That Women Make, Interview, 2012

LOS ANGELES TIMES

The sweet hooked rug, gone bad: How artist Hannah Epstein gives a retro craft some bite

By SHARON MIZOTA
JAN 20, 2018

Hannah Epstein’s “Soft Teeth,” left, “The Hybrid Kid” and “Mouser” are all from 2017. (Don Lewis / Hannah Epstein and Steve Turner)

 

Hannah Epstein’s riotous exhibition at Steve Turner may bring back memories of hours spent with latch hook rug kits — those ready-to-assemble crafts that, strand by strand, formed a fuzzy image of a cheery rainbow, heart or “Sesame Street” character.

The Canadian artist’s hooked rugs, however, are the bad sister-in-laws of those anodyne projects. “Monster World” assembles shaggy, snarling, off-kilter beasts that have more to do with alternative comics, cartoons and Internet culture than they do with sweetness and light. Strewn across a wall, they are the underbelly of cute, the id of the home crafter.

There are, of course, cats. “Mouser” is a cat’s face, nearly 5 feet tall, hooked in a wild combination of yarns that manages to feel both colorful and dingy. The mouth is stretched into a gleeful, toothy grin, toeing the line between cheer and evil. Nearby, in  “Bad Mascot,” a smaller lion also bares its teeth: You can almost hear it hissing.

Installation view of Hannah Epstein’s “Monster World,” with a hissing lion in the lower left corner. Don Lewis / Hannah Epstein and Steve Turner 

“The Hybrid Kid” depicts a humanoid creature with large, moth-like antennae and five eyes. Huddled in a protective posture, but grinning maniacally through its pain, one of its arms appears to be a snake, or perhaps it’s just wearing a sock puppet. It’s sweet; the monstrousness sneaks up on you. Also cute is the multi-colored, griffin-like animal in “Eats Its Young” choking down a smaller version of itself. On its belly, as if in X-ray vision, we see a tiny, staring face. It’s not exactly an image of maternal solicitude.

Other works forgo cuteness altogether. There are images of Britney Spears with shaved head, a cartoon girl getting punched in the face and an anime-style woman being encircled and penetrated by brightly colored tentacles, each inscribed with the word “memes.” These are girls gone wrong, or girls done wrong.

Similarly, Epstein’s rugs are nice projects gone awry. Her use of the hooked rug invokes hours of repetitious labor spent following a pattern. Such activities may be fun and relaxing, but they’re also designed to keep girls’ hands busy. They accustom girls to drudgery.

In creating her own patterns, Epstein has twisted the hooked rug into something not only novel but also appealing — even joyful. It feels honest, capturing the craziness, the violence, the screaming fury of our day. Anger is held in tension with cuteness, sweetness, fuzziness. These are the hooked rugs we might have made had we the nerve to burst out of our skins.