Project Room

Katie Bell:
Backsplash/Backsplash II

Locust Projects is pleased to present Backsplash, two new site-specific works by Brooklyn-based artist Katie Bell. 

Bell has mined Miami for the items that form the palette for the works that she has created in Locust Projects’ front and back spaces (LP 01 and LP 03). She uses common building materials as ingredients to be sawn, cut, thrown, stacked, and coerced together. Utilizing wood, laminate, paint, foam, hot tub fragments, shock absorbers, cork, and rope, the artist has created physical, sculptural paintings. 

The exhibition’s title refers to the location itself, as Locust Projects’ walls and floors act as painting “supports”, in that they have collected –and now exhibit – the detritus of Bell’s activity within the space. Large objects that evoke the domestic sphere have been transformed into painterly elements. The artist’s materials become abstracted from their original purpose, and act as ruins and relics. 

Bell’s works act as still life paintings that threaten to rupture the viewer's space. They give the impression that the artist’s materials have been through an unusual storm, which has left them strewn about the space in a state of freeze-frame, as if holding their breath until the viewer leaves. 

Backsplash II is an installation that serves as a visual and conceptual sequel to her previous exhibition in the space, Backsplash. 

Approaching this reactivation with the domestic language of remodeling, Bell ‘renovates’ the front project space: she lays new flooring, rearranges the deconstructed ‘furniture’ and adds new focal elements to the walls. Her sculptural language is populated by artifacts of home design and commercial interiors—markedly artificial materials from foam to laminate, plastic and composite wood that recall the economy and convenience of prefab housing. Slivers of an old hot tub, wall siding, and hurricane shutters, among other household effects, become painterly gestures that amount to brushstrokes and paint spatters across three-dimensional space. 

In its original configuration, the installation was conceived between Locust Projects’ front and back project rooms: in the front was a wall-mounted sculpture that seemed to explode outwardly into the space; and the back contained an extended, almost stage-like environment bounded by cork flooring. The latter installation expanded Bell’s work, dispersing materials in space across fore-, mid- and backgrounds; a new and natural deviation for her practice. Together, these two works outlined a causal relationship: the catalyst of the explosion-like event in the front, with the aftermath of wreckage strewn in the back. 

Backsplash II brings these materials into direct conversation—the artist transplants the elements from the back room and rearranges them into the front, foregrounding the cause and effect of the sculptural scene. The new linoleum flooring further transforms the space, inviting the viewer to enter the context of the installation; a sort of freeze-frame caught in mid-action between the bursting wall and the calm at its conclusion. The destruction is palpable. Objects pierce the walls, floor and one another, amid gestural gouges that signal an almost violent, painterly intervention. Here, the backsplash refers not only to the space as a backdrop to Bell’s work, but to the momentum of the objects around the room under the direct influence of the wall’s eruption.

Special thanks to Annika Northland, Avra Jain, Douglas Castro, and Laura Raiffe.


Originally from Rockford, Illinois, Katie Bell (b. 1985) received her BA from Knox College where she studied fine art and race and gender studies. She graduated in 2011 from the Rhode Island School of Design with an MFA in Painting. Bell has shown at venues including the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Knockdown Center (Brooklyn, NY); Nudashank (Baltimore); PLUG Projects (Kansas City); Okay Mountain Gallery (Austin); and the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum (Lincoln, MA). Her work has received coverage in BOMB Magazine, Art F City, Hyperallergic, and Paper Magazine. In 2011 she was an artist in residence at the Marie Walsh Sharpe Art Foundation’s Space Program. Bell was recently awarded a fellowship in painting by the New York Foundation for the Arts and the Saint-Gaudens Memorial Fellowship. Bell lives and works in Brooklyn. This is her first exhibition in Miami.

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