2016 Hotbox Residency

Kayle Karbowski and Leah Shirley

08/04/2016 - 09/08/2016


MASS will transform its gallery space into a working studio for two artists this summer. The fourth annual Hotbox residency program will take place over a 5-week period and will give selected artists the opportunity to explore new ideas or practices, while allowing them to engage with the Austin community. Taking advantage of the prime production time of the summer months, MASS hopes to nurture projects through this program that would not be realized otherwise.

Each artist accepted as a Hotbox resident is obliged to participate in MASS’s public engagement series, Close EncountersClose Encounters is a program designed to provide new methods of engaging the public’s curiosity. Open and broad, this prompt can be approached from a multitude of ways: performance based, passive, or completely radical in execution or thought. This program is a challenge to an artist’s current practice and designed to provide audiences with a new way of encountering and understanding the creative process.

Stay plugged into our website, Instagram feed orFacebook page for all the latest on upcoming events as they develop.

MASS is pleased to present the artists selected for the 2016 Hotbox residency program this summer: Kayle Karbowski (Milwaukee, WI) and Leah Shirley (New York, NY).


Kayle Karbowski (b. 1992, Chicago IL) is an earthling, feminist, Scorpio (Pisces moon, Aries rising) and cultural producer that was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago. Suspicious of the western coming-of-age mythology, Karbowski utilizes queer narrative structures to deconstruct and reconstruct the infinite ways in which we can create –or stumble upon our identities.  Feminine archetypes, mysticism, science fiction and suburban culture come together in her work as her personal history and future become abstracted. Through video, performance and sculpture, these semi-fictions present themselves as portals or mirrors into a world where the logic of the universe is as poetic and magical as it is “real”. Karbowski received her BFA from the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design in 2015 and currently lives and works in Milwaukee, WI. She is a co-founder of Milwaukee collective, After School Special, and their co-run gallery, The Lunchbox.

During her residency, Kayle Karbowski will investigate the idea of feminine power and the disruption of patriarchal forms through an experimental film and large-scale fiber work. The film will consist of multiple vignettes from a single day following characters based off of queer or feminist identities. They find their lives intertwined after the collision of two supermassive black holes causes a gravitational wave that disrupts the space-time of Earth. The artist will film in and around Austin and host a recorded participatory improv session loosely guided by the film’s script. Karbowski’s fiber work will be created from a still image from the film made during her time at MASS.

Leah Shirley  (b. 1988, Austin, TX) is a multi-disciplinary artist based in New York, NY. Her work explores themes of the feminine, vibrational energy, the sublime, and alchemy. Her investigations are a way to find herself reflected in the elements and examine her connection to them as a living being. Her work serves as altars to their process— monuments to time, transformation, and the interconnectivity of all things. She received a BFA in Photography from Columbia College Chicago in 2011 and her work has been exhibited nationally.

Leah Shirley’s work is an investigation of the self, rooted in ritual processes. As an Austin native returning home, Shirley will spend her residency rediscovering the landscape of her childhood. She will make large-scale altar-like sculptures using locally sourced materials such as limestone and marble, metal, cyanotypes on leather, and cast-resin. Immersive colored-light will bathe the sculptures, activating and charging them within the gallery. Photographs of the sculptures installed in the hill country where she grew up will accompany the work in the gallery installation. Together, the sculptures and photographs will be a tribute to the transformative heat and expansive environment of her birthplace.