CHICAGO, IL (6/23/16) – THE SUB-MISSION is pleased to announce Iron Ore Cannot be Educated into Gold, a site-specific installation by Liz Ensz. An opening reception will be held on Friday, July 8 from 6 to 8pm and will be on view through August 19, 2016.

Rooted in theories of the sublime, Ensz’s practice exists as an ongoing comparative study of the mass-cultural investment in disposability and the human desire to imagine permanence through emblems, monuments and commemoration. While disparate intentions inform these impulses – one to quickly forget, and the other to remember – each will materially describe our society to future generations. As an unapologetic trash-picker, Ensz scavenges materials ubiquitous in the (contemporary) landscape, including metals, plastic, rubber and otherwise unwanted materials, with the intention of reasserting their value.

Material engagement and material associations continue to be of fundamental emphasis in Ensz’s Iron Ore Cannot be Educated into Gold. Embracing the subterranean site of THE SUB-MISSION, Ensz displays stratified imagery on a sheer fabric substrate stretched along the gallery walls. The stratiform imagery and the transparency of the fabric suggest the impermanence of the foundation in which we rely. A copper pyramid cast from pre-Reagan pennies, a gold pyramid of the same value cast from pawn shop jewelry and two large cast iron ribbons sculptures encourages the audience to rethink the valuation of resources. Ensz’s installation highlights the non-cyclical, linear manner in which materials are extracted, temporarily valued and then buried.

The title of the exhibition ‘Iron Ore Cannot be Educated into Gold’ implies material predetermination, something that I think can be useful in identifying the inherent strengths of different materials. However, read in a social context, this phrase summons a dangerous essentialism, which can perpetuate oppressive biases and hierarchies which are constructed, but seen as inherent. I present our material associations as conversations that allude to this structure and it’s opposition.
– Liz Ensz


LIZ ENSZ (b. 1983) received her BFA in Fiber from the Maryland Institute College of Art and her MFA in Fibers Material Studies from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her work is currently included in an exhibition at NIMBY, an outdoor installation series curated by Margot Mache. Her work has been exhibited internationally, including Franconia Sculpture Park, Shafer, MN; Smack Mellon, Brooklyn, NY; Spaces, Cleveland, OH; Boston Center for the Arts, Boston, MA; Eastern Carolina University, Greenville, NC; and Goucher College, Baltimore, MD. Ensz was awarded Fellowship Residencies at Latitude, Salem Art Works, Playa, and Blue Mountain Center, and has been the recipient of The Creative Baltimore Fund Grant, The Gilroy Roberts Fellowship for Engraving, among others.


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