Quantum Kansas: An Anthropocene Study
Dr. Bill Russell
Curated by Audrey Simes
July 1 – August 27, 2022
Opening Reception July 1, 5 – 8pm
Artist Talk July 30, 2pm
Walk-in gallery hours at the Kranzberg Arts Center are from 12pm to 4pm every Saturday. For questions or concerns, please contact [email protected]. Private gallery visits can be made for all galleries by appointment with COVID-19 mitigation policies in place. To make an appointment, and for questions or concerns, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or (314) 533-0367 ext. 105
This exhibition chronicles Dr. Bill Russell’s 70 year relationship with the state of Kansas and his ongoing investigations of the socio-political landscape of Middle America. The patterns and rituals of Russell’s practice reflect how he processes, studies, and interprets information as a result of being neurodivergent. His work forms a vibrant collage of mixed-media installations, calligraphy, storytelling, photomontage, and wearable garments. “I am a chronic observer—looking for stories in the woodwork and bringing them to life in three-dimensional space. As a conceptual folk artist on the autism spectrum, I make art as a means to understand the world around me and to explore questions about race, gender, family, and society. I use readily available resources including digital media, cultivated and harvested natural materials, and detritus to tell stories with implicit social commentary. Using color, form, volume, and perspective, I invite the audience to explore the underlying, often unseen, connections between the spaces we inhabit and the society that shapes us.”—Dr. Bill Russell
Artist. Architect. Musician. Physician. Autism at work.
Dr. Bill Russell’s extraordinary body of work is a vibrant assemblage of stories, guerilla art, experimental architecture, performance, wearable garments, and large-scale fiber art installations. The patterns and rituals of his practice reflect how he processes information as a result of being neurodivergent. He investigates the nuances in culture and human behavior through his obsessive and idiosyncratic documentation of architecture and landscapes. Inspired by Dadaism, Hilla and Bernd Becher, and I M Pei, Dr. Bill examines the subtle changes in architecture and environments to reveal the hidden infrastructures of American consumerism and social inequality. Personal narratives and historical references are enmeshed to create a new mythology of a given place and time. His artist personas—Tuskdog, Charles and Chalot Douglas-B.O.O.K, Dr. Hatt Manikin ME, Texino Nutrino, and GINJU-AN—merge myth and memory to provide Dr. Bill with vehicles to explore his identity while preserving his sanctum on the fringes of society.
Born in Kansas City, MO in 1948, Dr. Bill was adopted in 1949 for $50 by midwestern, working class parents whose two biological children died during infancy. Dr. Bill’s acute awareness of being “different” inspired him to explore and subvert constructs of gender, sexuality, culture, and individual identity. Early influences of folk and fiber art traditions were passed down from his grandmother who taught him needlepoint and quilting. He worked on trash trucks, switched trains on the Santa Fe Railroad, made a living as an archaeologist at the Cahokia Mounds, and restored historic architecture throughout St. Louis. Dr. Bill holds advanced degrees in physical medicine, acupuncture, and the fine arts including a BFA in Ceramics and Printmaking and an MA in Weaving from Pittsburg State University and an MFA in Multimedia from Washington University. Additionally, he studied dance with Katherine Dunham and DeBorah Ahmed, contact improvisation with Sarah Shelton Mann, West African percussion with Mor Thiam, and toured internationally with Gash/Voigt Dance Theater as an installation artist, videographer, and physician.