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Rhoda Kellogg

An Interview with Brian Belott: Frustrating Expectations

by Irena Jurek on June 27, 2017
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Brian Belott admits that he’s “anything but subtle.” The artist has carved out a reputation for creating exuberant over the top spectacles wherever he goes. Known for his wildly uninhibited paintings that vibrate with movement and motion, Belott also courts chance and accident in his hilarious, absurdist performances.

Belott’s latest project at Gavin Brown’s Harlem outpost expands on his 2015 show at 247365, (discussed with AFC’s Paddy Johnson here)— and is a multi-faceted homage to Rhoda Kellogg, a little known children’s art pioneer. Her obsessive studies innovated child psychology and contributed to the formation of the Montessori method of teaching that places its emphasis on teaching children based on their own individual interests and skills. By collecting over a million examples of children’s art over the course of her lifetime, Kellogg discovered that universal patterns and developmental stages emerge in all children’s art from around the world.

The sprawling, rambunctious exhibit comes to life in three parts. For the first part, Belott hand-picked approximately 300 pieces of children’s art from the Rhoda Kellogg International Children’s Art Collection, which is the first time that such a large portion of the collection has been shown to the public. The second layer features 50 paintings that Belott recreated on canvas, based off of Children’s paintings, and drawings. The third aspect of the exhibition; is an actual children’s art classroom that’s channeling Kellogg’s own approach, which allows children from around New York City to make art based on their own interests and instincts with very little interference or guidance from adults.

I had a chance to sit down with Belott to discuss the show, the impact of children’s art on modernism, as well as his own lifelong obsession with children’s art that mirrors Kellogg’s.

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