Kelly Sears, Kelly Gallagher, and Martha Colburn

Tear It Up, Tear It Down, February 2017

In Tear It Up, Tear It Down, frenetic cut outs, eye-popping color, and kaleidoscopic digital manipulations transform appropriated imagery and pulse on screen. The animations and videos of Martha Colburn, Kelly Gallagher, and Kelly Sears are aggressively subversive in both content and form. Each artist tears up image and text borrowed from popular culture in order to tear down the insidious nature of controlled systems of inequity and embedded power structures. While the three artists in this show have been creating work that forces awareness of our political landscape for a decade or more, Grizzly Grizzly brings their work together in February 2017 during the first month of Trump’s presidency, to share stories of resistance and celebrate art’s power as activism.

Martha Colburn’s loud hand-constructed animations distract and antagonize historical power structures through her bold handling of icons as material. In Dolls vs Dictators (2011, 11:00) puppets use their powers to rid the world of the last remaining dictators. Myth Labs (2008, 7:30) interweaves Puritan visions, religious allegories and victims of the current Methamphetamine epidemic. In Join the Freedom Force (2009, 4:00), set to the groove-heavy, driving chorus of the song Casio Halbzeit by Knalpot, protesters strike out and are struck back in a dance of police brutality and a wild rally of freedom seekers.

Kelly Gallagher uses anger with intent when she resurrects stories of resistance in her short animated-documentaries. More Dangerous Than a Thousand Rioters(2016, 6:11)explores the powerful and inspiring life of revolutionary Lucy Parsons. Pearl Pistols(2014, 3:01) isa glitter bomb revival of a speech by the radical and revolutionary civil rights leader Queen Mother Moore. From Ally To Accomplice (2015, 17:38)is an experimental essay in three movements that explores the importance of being more than an "ally" in struggle. Gallagher says of her film, More Dangerous, “…if we are to find a way forward out of the mess that is coming our way, we will need to actively seek out revolutionary heroes who struggled before us.”

In her speculative videos, Kelly Sears uses familiar faces and figures from high school yearbooks, archival newsreels, instruction manuals and scientific diagrams to mix fact and fiction. Her works urge cultural introspection by re-telling and reshaping histories with a vigor. Her video The Rancher (2012, 7:00) is a parafictional newsreel film featuring an anonymous president during wartime. Pattern for Survival (2015, 6:45) channels the frenetic energy and aggression of security and preparedness. In the Vicinity(2016, 9:20) is a speculative instructional film where the full spectrum of official, covert, occult and limitless intelligence protocols are illustrated.

Artist Bios

Born in rural Pennsylvania, Martha Colburn is an artist filmmaker based in Pennsylvania and Amsterdam. A self-taught filmmaker, she began in 1994 with found footage and Super 8 cameras and has since completed over 50 films. Colburn has made music videos for bands such as Deerhoof, Felix Kubin (Germany) and the documentary The Devil and Daniel Johnson. She was invited to initiate the New Frontiers film and video installation program for Sundance Film Festival (2007) with Meet Me In Wichita and to open the Museum of Art and Design, NY with a live performance of films and music (2008). Her original films and artworks are archived at The Anthology Film Archive in New York City and are in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. She has received awards from the Fonds voor the Beeldende Kunst, the Mondriaan Foundation, the Jerome Foundation and many more. In 2013 her film Metamorfoza was commissioned and performed by the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra. She is a 2015 recipient of the Creative Capital Award.

Kelly Gallagher is an experimental animator, filmmaker and Assistant Professor of Media Arts at Antioch College in Ohio. Her theoretical work investigates the radical and feminist possibilities of experimental animation. Gallagher makes handcrafted colorful collage films, experimental videos, and found footage essays that strive to visually explore histories and movements of resistance. Her films have screened internationally at venues including: Ann Arbor Film Festival, Experiments in Cinema, London ICA Artists’ Biennial, Black Maria Film Festival, Alchemy Film and Moving Image Festival, and Anthology Film Archives. She is recipient of the Ivan Kaljevi? Award from Alternative Film/Video Festival Belgrade, the Helen Hill Award from Indie Grits, and the Audience Award from Brazil's Fronteira Film Festival.

Kelly Sears is an animator and filmmaker based in Denver, CO.  She uses experimental animation techniques to create hybrid narrative and documentary works. Her award-winning films have screened at international festivals such as Sundance, South by Southwest, American Film Institute, Los Angeles Film Festival, Off+Camera Film Festival, Poland, Festival International de Films de Femmes de Créteil, France, and Tricky Women in Austria.  She’s also had retrospective programs of her short work at Anthology Film Archives in NYC, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, The Portland Art Museum, and the SF Cinematheque.  Sears is currently an Assistant Professor of Film Studies at the University of Colorado, Boulder, where she teaches advanced filmmaking, animation, experimental documentary, and media archeology