From Addis Ababa to Clinton, NY: Elias Sime at Wellin Museum of Art
By Paul Clemence
A few hours from Manhattan, the Wellin Museum of Art in Clinton, NY, is showing that the Big Apple is not the only place to see high quality, diverse art with a global appeal. After their brilliant exhibit with MacArthur grant winner artist Jeffrey Gibson, showing his Native-American informed oeuvre, director and curator Tracy Adler selected Ethiopian artist Elias Sime for the educational museum’s (part of Hamilton College) current show on view, “Elias Sime: Tightrope.”
Sime’s work using mostly re-appropriated discarded digital waste, like computers motherboards, keyboards, and wirings, mostly found at Merkato, a large open-air market in Addis Ababa. Laborious and time consuming, for one of his pieces, Sime and his team collected wires for a decade in order to have the right color tone needed for both the message and the aesthetic needed for the piece being created, for at the core of the work, for Sime the strongest pull is his inner need of expression. The work might address critical and relevant contemporary topics but the initial creative spark, as the artist often says, comes from his desire to bring forth his feelings, be it of a personal or a philosophical nature. It’s about sharing his innermost thoughts, ideas and musings through these materials that are concealed from our eyes yet just underneath our fingers at basically every moment of our electronically filled lives, the layered meanings of his art reflecting the layers of our contemporary living. The trending “sustainability” element of course is part of his concerns, but the work questions technology in a broader way, pointing to the human element related to it and being affected by it. When you look at his work the thinking goes beyond what we are doing with our planet to a deeper pondering of how we are living today.
After the Wellin, like many exhibits initiated by the museum, the exhibit will travel around the country and to Canada, further bringing Sime’s message and inspiration to a broader audience. The first stop will be the Akron Art Museum in Akron, Ohio, followed by the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City and the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada.
198 College Hill Road
Clinton, NY 13323
On View: September 7 through December 8, 2019
Paul Clemence is an award-winning photographer and writer exploring the cross sections of design, art and architecture. A published author, his volume Mies van der Rohe’s FARNSWORTH HOUSE remains to this day the most complete photo documentation of that iconic modern residential design, and a selection of these photos is part of the Mies van der Rohe Archives housed by MoMa, New York. He is widely published in arts, architecture and lifestyle magazines like Metropolis,ArchDaily, Architizer, Modern, Casa Vogue Brasil and others. Archi-Photo, aka Architecture Photography, his Facebook photo blog quickly became a photography and architecture community, with over 970,000 followers worldwide. An architect by training, Clemence is originally from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and now lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.