The Hennessy Experiment is the sequel to our ever popular Draper Experiment and carries the original intent of the Constance S. & Robert J. Hennessy Project Space designed to promote experimental ideas. Hennessy Experiment breaks from traditional curatorial and exhibition practices as artists, artist groups, and artist collectives use this unique opportunity as a test lab to exercise ideas or push current practices. As a space to experiment with craft, materials, and mediums, or the opportunity to engage the public with an interactive exhibition, Hennessy Experiment asks the age old question, “What is art?”
The first Hennessy Experiment of our 2020 cycle, MALICE’S RESTAURANT by Natalie Hutchings, explores social constructs of history and the willingness of many to view societal ills from a distance through rose colored glasses. Hutchings creates an altered rendition of classic Americana through the window pane of the ubiquitous diner. Props such as vintage tables, tablecloths, menu boards, countertops, and fake plants set the stage to trigger memory of the sins of institutionalized racism, patriarchal abuses, and the colonial impetus that spawned and still nourishes them. To anchor her point, Hutchings undermines the script through familiar signs containing misspelled words, evoking how awkward uniformity mirrors behavioral norms and “perpetuates these diseases of modernity.” Lighting and ambient sound complete the sensory experience for viewers, urging them to question their own version of reality, or the past laid bare. Hutchings invites viewers to re-examine their role in creating or upholding the fruits of toxic nostalgia, or resign to exist in a real-life alternate reality.
Hutchings is a multidisciplinary artist, futurist, and educator. She is a member of the Vox Populi artist collective in Philadelphia, PA. Hutchings received her MFA from the University of Delaware in Studio Art and a BFA from Towson University in Interdisciplinary Object Design, a hybrid of digital fabrication, craft, and sculpture. As a graduate student, Hutchings was a winner of the Outstanding Student Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Awards from The International Sculpture Center (Sculpture Magazine) and was a 2018 Fellow of the Delaware Public Humanities Institute (DeLPHI) for her research in Material Culture Studies. She has exhibited in Berlin, Germany; Dallas, TX; Portland, OR; Baltimore, MD; Wilmington, DE; and, Philadelphia, PA.
Constance S. & Robert J. Hennessy Project Space