“Yes, They Were Made to Level”
The title, Yes, They Were Made to Level, comes from an answer to my question about the function of holes in the concrete driveway on which the exhibition was to be first installed. While concrete layers and homeowners might know perfectly well what holes in a driveway are for, I had no idea. The holes were curiously placed, but intentional, purposeful, with function in mind. After imagining possibilities followed by my inquiry, the answer came from Jim Spittle via text message: “Yes, they were made to level. Yes, they were made to level it. Sand is forced through them. Now only weeds grow from them.”
Back and fill is a term that refers to a series of small movements for maneuvering a sailboat through a narrow area. It is also an idiom that refers to reneging on a previous statement or promise. It is appropriate here for describing the work of Jerry Birchfield as both the artist’s process and final outcomes are dependent on a series of small shifts that are important in the work’s operation and form. Birchfield incorporates a variety of techniques including photography, digital media, inkjet prints, darkroom processes, sculpture and book formats to examine the operation of images. Yes, They Were Made to Level is a manifold and ongoing project that has taken form in several iterations. In 2015, the project existed in the artist’s studio as a set for photography, it was disseminated as a zine and it was exhibited as an installation that brought together photographs, objects, materials, audio, performance and spectators within a makeshift architecture. In 2016, the project took form as a book and as a portfolio.
Jerry Birchfield earned an MFA from Cornell University in 2014 and a BFA in Photography from the Cleveland Institute of Art in 2009. He received a John Hartell Graduate Award from Cornell University in 2013 and an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award in 2011. In 2009, he received the First Agnes Gund Traveling Award from the Cleveland Institute of Art to fund a photography project focusing on the glacier Jostedalsbreen in Jostedal, Norway. In Cleveland, OH, his work has been exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Transformer Station, William Busta Gallery and 2731 Prospect. In Columbus, OH, exhibitions include Riffe Gallery and Angela Meleca Gallery and in New York, Schema Projects and Foley Gallery. Jerry has a forthcoming exhibition at the Akron Art Museum in 2018.
Jerry lives and works in Cleveland, Ohio. His website is jerrybirchfield.com
Kent Krugh is a fine art photographer living in Cincinnati.