Buried in the Snow

J.A. Deaton, Max Guy, Brook Hsu, Ben Medansky, Jon Rafman, Sydney Shen, Nobuo Uematsu (rendition by Elizabeth Hitchcock)

Curated by Nathaniel Hitchcock

The American Institute of Thoughts and Feelings, Tucson, AZ
December 2019 - February 2020

Buried in the Snow is a configuration of artworks from the curator’s personal collection, joined by additional works by Brook Hsu, and Max Guy, along with the titular work by composer Nobuo Uematsu.

J. A. Deaton (American, 1937–2000) Joseph Arthur Deaton was an artist, engineer and baseball player. Born in West Texas, he spent his early life on the Deaton Ranch in Terrell County, TX. Working in oil on canvas and panel, he produced numerous works en plein air throughout the American Southwest, including the Northern Mexican states of Coahulia, Chihuahua, and Sonora. He worked as a civil engineer, and later as a part of the Gemini engineering team at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, FL, and the Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX. Deaton was drafted by the national baseball team the Atlanta Braves after being scouted at a game in Coahuila, Mexico. He trained with the team for one season before moving with his family to Venice Beach, CA and shifting his focus to civil engineering.

Maximilian Guy (American, b. 1989) Lives and works in Chicago, IL. In his practice, he assembles videos, cut silhouettes, text, and dramatic lighting into larger, often theatrical installations and thought experiments. He pursues themes of post-racial discourse, existentialism, social-psychology, cosmopolitanism, and self-affirmation. Responding to the context of Chicago and his own upbringing in New York City, his work constructs a personal mythology. He has a BFA in Interdisciplinary Sculpture from the Maryland Institute College of Art, and an MFA from the Department of Art Theory and Practice at Northwestern University. Max has exhibited work at Prairie, The Back Room, and Bar 4000, Chicago; Moonmist, Houston; 321 Gallery, New York; What Pipeline, Detroit; Federico Vavassori, Milan; Nudashank and Franklin Street, Baltimore; he has performed at Signal and Canada Gallery in New York, The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Sector 2337, and Comfort Station.

Brook Hsu (b. 1987 in Pullman, Washington) Lives and works in New York. Hsu received her BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute in 2010 and her MFA from Yale University, New Haven in 2016. She has exhibited nationally and internationally, including at the Renaissance Society (IL), Bahamas Biennale (MI), BBQLA (CA), Deli Gallery (NY), Double Double Land (Toronto, Canada), Carrie Secrist Gallery (IL), Galleri CC (Malmo, Sweden), GRIN Contemporary (RI), In Lieu (CA), Page (NY), Vacant Farm (MO), Vernon Gardens (CA).

Ben Medansky (b. 1988) was born in Scottsdale, AZ and received his BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2010. His work has been exhibited at LAX ART, Cooler Gallery, The Underground Museum, among other venues. Medansky’s ceramics are included in the permanent collection of the Los Angeles Museum County of Art. He has been reviewed in The New York Times, Architectural Digest, LA Times, among others. He was the recipient of the Maison & Objet Americas Rising Talent in Design Award. Ben has created exclusive work in collaboration with Herman Miller, the legendary Bergdorf Goodman, and world-renowned designer Kelly Wearstler. Medansky has been a visiting lecturer at The American Museum of Ceramic Art, California College of Art, and The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He has taught at Ox Bow School of Art and was an artist in residence at The Headlands Center for the Arts. Medansky lives and works in Los Angeles, CA.

Jon Rafman (b. 1981) is an artist and filmmaker whose work examines the effects of contemporary technology, particularly on interpersonal relationships. Recent solo exhibitions include “I have ten thousand compound eyes and each is named suffering” at Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, “Jon Rafman” at Westfälischer Kunstverein, “Jon Rafman” at The Zabludowicz Collection, London, “The end of the end of the end” at Contemporary Art Museum St Louis, “The Nine Eyes of Google Streetview” at the Saatchi Gallery, London, “Remember Carthage, New Online Art” at the New Museum, NY and also at Palais de Tokyo, Paris. Group shows include Manifesta 11, Zurich, 9th Berlin Biennale, Berlin, “Speculations on Anonymous Materials“ at Fridericianum, Kassel; The Photographer’s Gallery, London; “Nine Eyes” as part of the Moscow Photobienniale, 2012; “Screenshots” at William Benton Museum of Art, Connecticut; “The Greater Cloud,” Netherlands Media Art Institute, Amsterdam and “From Here On,” Les Rencontres d’Arles: International Photography Festival, Arles. Jon Rafman lives and works in Montreal, Canada.

Sydney Shen (b. 1989, Woodbridge, NJ) Lives and works in New York City, NY. Shen creates sculptures and installations that evoke a sense of abject dread. Informed by a range of historical and contemporary sources—including Peking opera, supernatural horror fiction, and the darkest recesses of the web—Shen frankensteins organic and synthetic materials such as Chinese and Western medicinal aromatics, 3-D-printed plastic, and biological specimens to produce uncanny environments. Recent solo and two-person exhibitions include “Poor Thing” with Kyung Me at Hotel Art Pavilion, Brooklyn (2018); “Four Thieves Vinegar” at Springsteen, Baltimore (2017); “What’s Worse Than The Void Is Matter” at Motel, Brooklyn (2017); and “Bone Apple Tea” at Holy Motors Project, Hong Kong (2016). In May 2019 she will present her first international solo exhibition at Sophie Tappeiner in Vienna. Group exhibitions include Deitch Projects, New York; Aike-Dellarco, Shanghai; Weekends, London; Fused Space, San Francisco; Et Al, San Francisco; and American Medium, Brooklyn. Shen is also the founder of Gesualda, a handmade fine jewelry and apparel company.

Nobuo Uematsu (Uematsu Nobuo, born March 21, 1959) is a Japanese video game composer, best known for scoring most of the titles in the Final Fantasy series by Square Enix. He is considered to be one of the most well known composers in the video game industry. Sometimes referred to as the “Beethoven of video games music”, he has appeared five times in the top 20 of the annual Classic FM Hall of Fame.

Uematsu, a self-taught musician, began playing the piano at the age of twelve, with English singer-song- writer Elton John as his biggest influence. Uematsu joined Square in 1986, where he first met Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi. The two later worked together on many titles at the company, most notably in the Final Fantasy series. After nearly two decades with Square, Uematsu left in 2004 to create his own production company, which included the Dog Ear Records music label. He has since composed music as a freelancer for other games, including ones developed by Square Enix and Sakaguchi’s development studio, Mistwalker.

Many soundtracks and arranged albums of Uematsu’s game scores have been released. Pieces from his video game works have been performed in various Final Fantasy concerts, where he has worked with Grammy Award–winning conductor Arnie Roth on several of these performances. From 2002 to 2010, he was in a hard rock band with Square Enix colleagues Kenichiro Fukui and Tsuyoshi Sekito called The Black Mages, in which he played electronic organ and other keyboards. The band played various arranged rock versions of Uematsu’s Final Fantasy compositions. He has since performed with Earthbound Papas, which he formed as the successor to The Black Mages in 2011.