Tucker Neel is an artist, freelance writer, and independent curator living and working in Los Angeles, CA. Embracing a heterogeneous practice, Neel utilizes drawing, painting, sculpture, video, installation, and online communication to create works that investigate questions of allegiance, memory, and collective experience. You can see his archived projects at tuckerneel.com.
Neel holds an MFA from Otis College of Art and Design and a BA in Art History and Visual Arts from Occidental College. He has exhibited work in Los Angeles and across the country in venues such as Commissary Arts, Samuel Freeman, Bonnelli Contemporary, Control Room, D-Block Projects, LA Freewaves, and well as in various site-specific exhibitions in public spaces. As a curator he has organized exhibitions for The Regent Galleries, the Bolsky Gallery at Otis College of Art and Design, Highways Gallery in Santa Monica, and GATE Projects in Glendale, CA. His work has been reviewed in publications such as the The L.A. Times, L.A. City Beat newspaper, The Tennessean, Art Week, The Nashville Scene, artforum.com, and on Flavorpill.com.
He is currently an Assistant Professor in the Communication Arts, Liberal Arts & Sciences, and Graphic Design MFA departments at Otis College of Art & Design, and teaches professional practices, critique, studio art, and critical theory to both Undergraduate and Graduate students.
He is Vice President of GYST-Ink, an artist-run company offering professional practices software and services to artists. For more info visit www.gyst-ink.com.
He is also Curator and Project Manager for GATE Projects, which places art in otherwise vacant storefronts in Glendale, CA (gateprojects.org)
He is a Contributing Editor for Artillery Magazine in Los Angeles, CA, and guest edited Artillery Queered, an issue devoted to highlighting the work of queer artists. He is the Los Angeles correspondent for ART LIES in Houston, TX, and ARTPULSE Magazine in Miami, FL. He also contributes reviews and criticism to X-Tra Magazine in Los Angeles, CA. You can read his archive of published writings at www.tuckerneel.wordpress.com.
Neel founded 323 Projects in 2010. 323 Projects is an art gallery that exists solely as a voicemail system and website. To visit 323 Projects simply call (323) 843-4652 or (323) TIE-IN-LA. You can also visit the 323 Projects website at 323projects.com. 323 Projects exists to provide a dispersed, peripatetic, and constantly accessible venue for artists of all kinds. The artists involved with 323 Projects provide, create, or perform works that can be appreciated in bits and pieces, and at more than one time, in both public and private spaces, by an unseen, yet omnipresent, local and international audience.
Tucker Neel Artist’s Statement
My practice explores the impulse to memorialize individual and collective experiences. I use project-specific works to investigate and question how images, objects and events become memorable and shape national and individual identity. I find inspiration in speculative historical narratives, overlooked anecdotes, and ubiquitous outright lies.
Many of my projects explore the fissures and slippages of history, prompting viewers to question how the past impacts the present. In Welcome To Sunny California I interrogated a peculiar anecdote about late 19th Century land barons luring people to the arid desert by placing oranges on Joshua Trees in order to convince these land speculators from back East that they were moving to fields of orange groves. I re-created this strange circumstance by skewering decorative oranges on a Joshua Tree in Joshua Tree, CA. Decorative Orange trees, also known as Ornamental Orange trees, serve no purpose but to mimic the “look” of an orange tree; they produce inedible nearly useless fruit. They are everywhere in Los Angeles and are planted because they embody the mythology of abundance, prosperity, and health. By moving these oranges out to the desert and placing them on a Joshua Tree I intend to bring together two instances of idealized nature, one from the distant past, and one from the immediate present. This project was finalized as an affordable tourist poster available on my website and in certain tourist locations in and around Joshua Tree. My intention with this project is to inspire discussion and thought about how we envision paradise, a better life, and the future, and come to a better understanding of how these desires are constructed and mitigated by history, location, marketing, and desire.
I often directly address the role design, decoration, and artifice, play in shaping political discourse and public opinion. In Go Balloons!, an installation from 2007, I filled a professional balloon drop net with hundreds of nearly deflated polychromatic balloons. When hung from the ceiling this familiar yet often ignored tool for making events more memorable is never actualized as a balloon drop, but is left as a testament to a sad and limp potentiality, resulting in something conspicuous, funny, and a little discomforting. In other projects I alter political campaign memorabilia like buttons, banners, and confetti. In engaging with the visual trappings of promotional souvenir objects, these works comment on how keepsakes and relics shape our memories of historical events.
My practice often entails creating installations and scenarios designed to examine the trappings of nationalism. In Flag For A Future Present, I present viewers with a new flag meant to fly between Memorial Day and Flag Day of each year to mark the time between when we mourn our dead soldiers and celebrate the symbols of American patriotism. This flag is meant to literalize a moment of reflection. When the Flag For A Future Present is raised its metallic surface throws back the image of its surroundings, allowing one to think about the land around us, the site that frames a flag. Additionally, the flag metaphorically asks one to reflect on their own image, their own subjective position in the landscape. Like any other flag, this work is available in an unlimited edition in a variety of sizes for a reasonable price.
I create works that critically examine contingent and contested histories, and the way these histories are made real by objects, events, and persistent narratives. Through these works I intend to activate a larger discussion about how seemingly innocuous objects or experiences contribute to individual, and national memorial structures.
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