Body Talk

Johnston Foster, Irena Jurek, and Jared Theis

03/11/2016 - 04/16/2016


MASS is pleased to present BODY TALK, an exhibition of diverse media including video installation, sculpture, and drawing opening Friday, March 11, 2016, 7:00 – 11:00 p.m. and running through Saturday, April 16, 2016. The three-person show includes Johnston Foster (Halifax, Nova Scotia), Irena Jurek (New York, NY), and Jared Theis (San Antonio, TX & Oslo, Norway). Employing anthropomorphic figures, mythological beings, and fanciful models, each artist provides the viewer with an interpretation of our natural world which plays with the edge of plausibility. Using the body as its vehicle the work in BODY TALK explores the psychological, social, political and theatrical life of living bodies and the spaces they inhabit.

Foster sees himself as a hunter, a gatherer, and an alchemist cruising the streets and back alleys of wherever his situation leads him. Using the rejected and forgotten objects our sprawling sub/urban world, Foster presents his audience with iconic narratives that serve as cultural X-rays penetrating the endless heaps of popular culture, history and urban myths. Tinged with self-deprecating humor and violence, the artist creates work that is at its core optimistic and not afraid to have fun.

Jurek uses humor as a method of resisting the notion of a conventional gendered sexual identity. By taking cultural clichés and purposely perverting them, she questions and pushes the limits of stereotypical sex roles. Using the recurring character of the cat woman she builds her narrative around the prevalent and provocative anthropomorphized fantasy of woman as sex kitten. Subverting the visual trope of portraying females as eroticized subjects for the male spectator’s gaze her cat women are instead active participants. Comfortable in their own furry skin—independent, feral, and unpredictable creatures—they live by their own set of rules.

Theis’ vivid and visceral body of work exists in a utopian universe populated by a species of fanciful creatures. The artist builds mythologies surrounding the inhabitants of this fantastical environment through video, animation, performance, objects and sculptural suits. Particularly interested in vulnerability and how organisms adapt to suit their surroundings, Theis follows his creatures through different periods and stages of their evolutionary development as he helps them navigate their fictional world. The suits themselves become a means of taking on the role of these creatures and enter into their imagined landscapes. In an act of physical and mental endurance the artist wears these ornate and unwieldy shells to inhabit his creation and explore other states of being. The armor clad artist becomes a survivalist being, playing out dramas driven by primal instincts and on film his creatures enact rituals that recall long forgotten experiences in a place beyond our own reality.


Johnston Foster is an artist based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. He studied sculpture at Virginia Commonwealth University, Hunter College and the Skowhegan School of Art. Over the past sixteen years he has shown his art internationally in galleries, museums and public art institutions in North America,Europe, South America and Asia. When he is not collecting junk and garbage to make sculptures, he helps run Thief & Bandit Jewelry and Apparel with his artist and designer wife Amie Cunningham, as well as skateboarding, watching cartoons and making noise with their three sons.

Irena Jurek was born in Krakow, Poland in 1982 and currently lives and works in New York. She received her BFA in 2004 from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and her MFA in 2008 from the Cranbrook Academy of Art, Michigan. She recently had a solo exhibition with Jeff Bailey Gallery in Hudson, New York, and with Zurcher Gallery, Paris. Her work has been included in group exhibitions in New York at Know More Games, 247365, Denny Gallery, and others.

Jared Theis was born in 1977. He currently works between Oslo, Norway and San Antonio, Texas. In 2012, he earned an MFA from the University of California, Davis. While at UC Davis he received a Joan Mitchell MFA grant and the Robert Arneson Award. In 2014 he was awarded a Statens kunstnerstipend from Kulturradet, Norway Arts Council in Oslo.