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SMU’S Pollock Gallery to Present "Stranger than Fiction", Nov. 14 – Dec. 13, 2014

Opening Reception on Nov. 21 from 6-8 p.m.; Artists’ Gallery Talk on Nov. 22 at 1 p.m.

The Pollock Gallery of the Division of Art at SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts will present the exhibition Stranger than Fiction from November 14 through December 13, 2014.

The exhibition features video, paintings, textile and sculpture by artists Julia Brown, Erika DeFreitas and Nicole Miller. The works record and highlight the occurrence of the absurd in everyday or commonplace settings. The artists employ modes of performance, documentary and transcription to explore intersecting issues of migration, history, politics and commerce. Their works reveal underlying themes of humor, violence, exploitation, isolation and exchange.

“Though I was initially drawn to each of the exhibiting artists’ work for their individual styles and subject matter, I was struck by the fact that all of them included an element of absurdity,” said Sally Frater, 2014 Pollock Curatorial Fellow. “The situations they identify and explore in their work make us aware of how often we encounter bizarre instances in daily life.”

Julia Brown’s video L’entartage contains footage of various politicians and personalities being hit in the face with pies while publicly speaking, illustrating how a gesture rooted in vaudeville has transformed into an act of hostility and aggression. Her work American Vernacular includes six vignettes that feature a group of individuals embodying the characteristics of 19th-20th century “Black Americana” household objects. While performing as these items, the repetition of their gestures highlights the inherent racism in the objects’ production while occasionally subverting the abhorrent nature of the objects into actions that are humorous and bizarre. Brown will also contribute a selection of paintings on the subject of people who have been apprehended while attempting to smuggle live animals on their person through customs.

Erika DeFreitas’s two-channel video The Truth of Lineage depicts the artist and her mother side by side on split screens on two separate monitors. On both screens, either the artist or her mother is shown weeping while a disembodied hand collects tears in a vial. At the work’s conclusion, either the artist or her mother is shown ingesting the tears of the other. The artist has also included a series of photographs that depict her together with her mother in various domestic settings. In all of them DeFreitas is cloaked within a crocheted cosy, her form hidden beneath a layer of wool while she snuggles against her mother’s body as her mother reads or crochets.

Part of a series of works that were commissioned by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Nicole Miller’s Believing is Seeing (Ndinda) features a subject, Ndinda, who is an instructor in “laughter yoga.” She is shown demonstrating her craft by laughing uproariously without provocation.

The opening reception of Stranger than Fiction will be held Friday, November 21 from 6-8 p.m. An exhibition walkthrough with the curator and artists Julia Brown and Erika DeFreitas will take place Saturday, November 22 at 1 p.m.

The Pollock Gallery is located on the first floor of the Hughes-Trigg Student Center, 3140 Dyer St. on the Southern Methodist University campus in Dallas. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, and 1-5 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free. For more information, call 214-768-4439 or visit here.


Julia Brown earned an M.F.A. from CalArts in 2006 and a B.A. in studio art from Williams College in 2000. The 2006 recipient of the Dedalus Foundation M.F.A. Painting Award, she has had work exhibited in New York at Ogilvy + Mather, Art in General, The Kitchen and Pace University; in Los Angeles at LACE and Supersonic at Barnsdall Gallery; and at Via Farini in Milan, Kunsthalle in Dusseldorf, Form Video in London and Blank Projects in Cape Town.  A current artist fellow in the Core Program at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Brown has attended numerous residencies, including Via Farini-in-Residence, the Whitney Independent Study Program, the Fondazione Ratti Corso Superiore di Arti Visive and the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, and was a two-time Visual Arts Fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Mass.

Erika DeFreitas is a Toronto-based artist. She explores the influence of language, loss and culture on the formation of identity through performance, public interventions, relational exchanges, photography and textile-based works. A graduate of the Master of Visual Studies program at the University of Toronto, she has exhibited her work in group and solo exhibitions in Canada and the United States at such venues as Gallery 44 in Toronto, Ontario, the Art Gallery of Windsor in Windsor, Ontario, The Print Studio in Hamilton, Ontario and the Houston Museum of African American Culture in Houston, Texas. In 2015 she will have a solo exhibition of her work at the Art Gallery of Mississauga in Mississauga, Ontario.

Nicole Miller is originally from Tucson, Ariz. Based in Los Angeles, she is a graduate of CalArts and holds an M.F.A. from the USC Roski School of Art and Design. She has had solo exhibitions of her work at the Centre d’Art Contemporain Geneva, The Highline in New York and Kunst Werke in Berlin as well as in group shows such as the Hammer Museum’s Made in L.A., Fore at the Studio Museum in Harlem and the first Dallas Biennale. Her work is in the collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Hammer Museum and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

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