Joel Swanson: Eight-and-a-Half-by-Eleven

David B. Smith Gallery

December 13, 2019 - January 18, 2020

  • Opening Reception: Friday, December 13, 6 - 8 pm; Free and open to the public with the Artist in attendance
  • in the project room: Cody Hudson: I Came Home
Joel Swanson, How many “Pinkie” erasers would it take to create a perfect cube?
2019, Pinkie erasers, 13 x 13 x 13 in. (33.02 x 33.02 x 33.02cm)

David B. Smith Gallery is pleased to announce Denver-based artist Joel Swanson’s third solo exhibition with the gallery, Eight-and-a-Half-by-Eleven.

Recognized as both ubiquitous yet shaped by societal privilege, language’s unwavering written and spoken rules are inevitably internalized in the individual. From youth, the weight of the written word against the empty page shapes thought patterns and processes as it rigidly defines correctness. The blankness of the empty page, seemingly innocuous and devoid of content, Swanson views as possessing an invisible, rigid power that ultimately defines the underlying structure of free choice.

Throughout the main gallery, Swanson explores the tools, structures, and technologies of literacy. Using unconventional media including pink erasers and highlighter fluid, Swanson deconstructs the materiality of language used within the primary education of English.

Eight-and-a-Half-by-Eleven uses abstraction and composition to discuss language without the actual use of language. Without a single alphanumeric character, Swanson delves into the psychology of language and learning, incorporating autobiographical elements into what amounts to a critique of default truth as it pertains to language.

David B. Smith Gallery
1543 A Wazee Street
Denver, CO, 80202


About Joel Swanson

Joel Swanson is an artist and writer who explores the relationship between language and technology. His work critically subverts the technologies, materials, and underlying structures of language to reveal its idiosyncrasies and inconsistencies. His work ranges from interactive installations to public sculptures that playfully and powerfully question words and their meanings.

Swanson is an assistant professor in the ATLAS Institute at the University of Colorado Boulder where he works and teaches at the intersection of language and technology. He received his Masters of Fine Art at the University of California, San Diego with a focus in Computing and the Arts. His artwork has been exhibited nationally and internationally at institutions such as the Broad Museum in Lansing, The Power Plant in Toronto, the Glucksman in Cork Ireland, and the North Miami Museum of Contemporary Art. In 2014 Swanson had a solo exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver. In 2017 he showed work in Personal Structures, an official satellite show of the 57th Venice Biennale.

About Cody Hudson

Cody Hudson is a Chicago, IL based artist, also known for his graphic design contributions under the name Struggle Inc. His paintings, sculpture, and graphic works have been exhibited throughout the United States, Europe, and Japan in solo exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL; Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago, IL; Elmhurst Art Museum, Elmhurst, IL; Andrew Rafacz Gallery, Chicago, IL; Rocket Gallery, Tokyo; and V1 Gallery, Copenhagen, Denmark. The artist’s site-specific installations include: Dreams Burn Down Redux, Soho House, Chicago, IL; Future/Memory, Hellerau Art Center, Dresden, Germany; A Cheval-Entre design graphique et art contemporain, Nantes, France; and Festival of Light, Bangkok, Thailand.

About David B. Smith Gallery

David B. Smith Gallery is committed to presenting intelligent and culturally relevant exhibitions in its Denver location, featuring the region’s most important emerging talent alongside internationally recognized artists. Through its curatorial program, participation in art fairs, and extensive media coverage in publications such as Art in America and ARTnews, David B. Smith Gallery has cultivated a strong regional, national, and international collector audience. The New York Times hailed the gallery as offering "an exciting contrast of cutting edge works” and The Denver Post declared that it is the “premiere commercial space” in Denver. The gallery also maintains an active publishing division, which produces exhibition catalogues and editions.