‘sindikit is a new collaboration developed by artists Zoë Charlton and Tim Doud. The project is housed within the Oliver Street Studios located in Baltimore’s Station North Arts District that is co-owned by the accomplished and well known visual artist Stewart Watson, who not only lives and works in this building with her family, but also is the Director of the venerable gallery Area 405 (see her pictured wearing red in the Tubman Dinner photo).
‘sindikit is not a gallery nor is it a not for profit space — nor is it even a curatorial space. It is a non-commercial venue where both Zoë and Tim are able to extend their artistic energies towards inviting artists to create something outside of their normal practice. ‘sindikit is the phonetic spelling of syndicate which means “a group of individuals or organizations combined to promote some common interest.”
I’ve known Tim and Zoë since they both arrived as full time faculty to American University (AU) in 2003 where I had already been teaching since 2000 as part of their Adjunct Faculty. Since that time, they have each become well known in the Baltimore and DC art communities through their teaching and exhibiting. Zoë is represented by ConnerSmith in DC and Tim currently has work at Randall Scott Projects in Baltimore and has gallery representation internationally. They are both revered educators at AU and their influence and energy is felt by the numerous graduate and undergraduate students they have taught who have gone on to be equally vibrant art makers and educators in their respective communities.
Speaking with both of them at ‘sindikit’s two room space, we discussed the idea behind the birth of ‘sindikit. As Professors at AU, they worked closely together to build a distinguished Visiting Artist program where artists such as Sanford Biggers, Nicole Eisenman, Carrie Moyer and Karl Kauper were included in the roster of well known international artists. Their collaboration with ‘sindikit was a natural extension from their teamwork at AU. Another experience they both attributed as being a distinct inspiration was an exhibition they had together in Berlin that was hosted at my flat in 2013 (I lived there from 2012 – 2015). The show inspired them to create new pieces that extended beyond the work they were doing at the time and marked a turning point for what Tim called ‘a side project’. The non-objective geometric pattern paintings that evolved from the smaller iterations on paper are now an entirely new project in addition to the representational portrait paintings he continues to make. (See a feature on Tim here on TSV in his studio). Zoë’s figurative drawings laden with the added collage elements of trees, houses, and more, are now such an intrinsic element in her work.
As artists, this opportunity for recontextualization and the chance to get away from the art market became the core idea behind ‘sindikit: A space for fellow artists to manifest new ideas and in turn create new contexts and reference points for their work.
‘sindikit’s first show featured two female artists Joyce Scott and Allana Clarke. Theirs was the work that was on view when I visited ‘sindikit a couple of weeks ago. Both Scott and Clarke created video pieces that were vastly different in content and execution. Joyce Scott’s piece titled “Foolishness” was a five channel video installation with five flat screen T.V’s. in ‘Space 1’. Each screen featured the artist talking and singing at different times then falling into synchronization after several minutes. Joyce Scott is exhibited and collected widely and is best known for her beaded figurative sculptures in the contemporary art and craft world. Click here to read about her in Craft in America.
Allana Clarke is a recent MFA graduate from Maryland Institute’s College of Art (MICA). She is active as a conceptual artist making work that spans performance, video, installation and sculpture. Her piece titled “Propositions of Questionable Intent Part I and II” was housed in ‘Space A’ as a two-wall projection piece. One video featured the artist seated naked on a chair with a naked white male standing behind her groping her neck and face. The piece was full of tension addressing issues of power, vulnerability, gender and race. See more on her website www.allanaclarke.com
The juxtaposition of the two artists was a surprising contrast in content and mood, however the space is divided where each artist’s video installation had enough privacy allowing the viewer to immerse themselves in that particular piece. Although the pairing of Joyce Scott, an older African American woman, with Allana Clarke, a young Trinidad and Tobago native may seem planned, it wasn’t. The simultaneous positioning of these two artists leads one to ask: Could there be (a connection)? Leaving this open for interpretation, allowing the viewer the opportunity to make connections on his or her own without an over guided curated vision, is what makes ‘sindikit’s concept refreshing and exciting within the world of artist run spaces.
Zoë adds that ‘sindikit has a direct intention towards fostering exchange between a diverse group of voices and ideas. A perfect example of this was a recent Tubman Table dinner held last weekend organized by artist Amy Sherald. A Tubman Table dinner encourages all guests to address the entire group rather than having many side conversations throughout the evening.
Zoë explains, “Part of ‘sindikit’s pursuit is to support events that facilitate art-centered conversations. The Tubman Table is the first example of that. We wanted to start a diverse dinner/discussion group of artists, creatives, and folks who participate in the cultural landscape of Baltimore. The Tubman Table discussion addresses the ways artists and creatives engage in their communities.”
A few days after I visited ‘sindikit, Tim and Zoë found out the project was awarded a grant from The Contemporary’s Grit Fund. Moreover, both Tim and Zoë will also be included in Sharon Louden’s forthcoming book The Artist as Cultural Producer: Living and Sustaining a Creative Life due out next February 2017.
Contact ‘sindikit at 405 E. Oliver Street in Baltimore’s North Arts District and online at www.sindikit.net