Nate Lowman’s new installation at 80WSE Windows, “Stay In School,” features recycled images, ripped from magazines and newspapers, which capture young people engaged in violence and tomfoolery. They’re simply “weird situations,” Lowman says.
For “Stay In School,” Lowman constructed sheetrock walls in the exhibition space, and then took a hammer to them. Pairs of images are displayed on the walls and within them. On one wall, the jagged hole reveals a black-and-white photograph of boys in military garb; below, a pixilated image of the poster for the film about disturbed adolescence, Thirteen. Next to it, Lowman posts a newspaper image of a baby dressed as a suicide bomber (an unfortunate joke made by the New York Post), above a blown-up photograph of 1980s-era California skate punks, framed in torn-up sheetrock. The third and final window frames a photo of a young couple, the man holding a gun against his girlfriend’s head, above a tabloid cover chronicling the scandal over Prince Harry’s Nazi Halloween costume.
“Stay in School” is about education, good, bad, and lacking. And as part of NYU’s Steinhardt School, 80WSE Windows overlooks the student-heavy Washington Square Park. Lowman depicts young people for young people.
“I had liked the way that the window was broken up into three sections and was sort of thinking of groups of images, and what the demographic of the people in that neighborhood largely is,” says Lowman. “I’ve always collected images that had to do with young people in weird situations, whether it was young suicide bombers or young pop stars, celebrities or young sports people, or whatever it is, but either compromised or interesting or fanatical situations.”
Though it’s a quiet time on campus, between graduation and fall semester, Lowman said he’s been able to gauge reactions. Along with another window installation across campus, Keith Mayerson’s “Good Leaders, Endangered Species, it will be up through the end of October.”
“I feel like it’s such an aesthetically weird thing,” said Lowman, who often bikes by the space when in the neighborhood. “[Passersby] double-take. The pictures are not all that sensational, but a little bit. How long do people look at an artwork, 10 seconds?”
Lowman, who graduated with an art degree from NYU in 2001, isn’t the biggest fan of his alma mater. The institution itself “is whatever,” he admitted. “But to have a student audience is cool.”
Also a draw is the opportunity to work again with NYU’s art department chair, Nancy Barton, and to show with Keith Mayerson, a longtime teacher in the program and Lowman’s mentor when he was a a student.
“Keith is such a great artist and he’s such a great teacher,” Lowman said. “That was a happy moment for me to share that with him. And then Nancy’s so wonderful if she wants me to do something I always say yes.”
Next, Lowman is curating a “mini-retrospective” at 303 Gallery of the painter Sue Williams. He is also preparing for a two-person show with Hannah Liden at Salon 94 later this year, and a solo show at Maccarone next spring.