PLAKOOKEE: A Collaboration Between Rachel Dubuque and Justin Plakas
Eternal Cleanse
November - December 2018

For our November exhibit, Grizzly Grizzly is pleased to announce ETERNAL CLEANSE, an installation by PLAKOOKEE, the creative collaboration betweenMaryland based artist-designers Rachel Debuque and Justin Plakas. In their exhibit, PLAKOOKEE brings together an unexpected collection of sculpture, artist designed products, video, and textiles as a therapeutic response to a recent mutual trauma. ETERNAL CLEANSE is the resulting body of work that explores themes of loss, memory, ceremony, and the commodification of death; but with a focus on using humor to examine and heal the complicated emotions of guilt and relief related to a recent death in the artists’ family.

Debuque and Plakas are well known for the use of humor, in both their personal and collaborative practice. Their work sardonically mimics advertisement-product relationships through an unexpected correlation between health and beauty, and spirituality and mysticism. ETERNAL CLEANSE builds on previous PLAKOOKEE explorations into magical realism, science fiction, comedy, color, apperception, and design fundamentals; while searching for the value and spirituality in the art object in the post-internet age.

Artist Bios

PLAKOOKEE is a creative collaboration between the Maryland based artist-designers Rachel Debuque and Justin Plakas. Their work spans sculpture, installation, performance, video, and new media. PLAKOOKEE projects incorporate both digital and analog approaches to production, creating work that pushes the boundaries of what art should and can be. PLAKOOKEE embraces the important role that humor plays in art making as means to both subvert meaning and entertain audiences. Debuque and Plakas began working together in 2013 and exhibited collaboratively at spaces including Rochester Institute of Technology (Rochester, NY), Hemphill Gallery (Washington, D.C.) and The Institute for New Feeling (Los Angeles, CA). The two met at Graduate School at the University of Georgia. Plakas’s background in film and video, pairs well with Debuque’s research in installation art and performance. They both separately received Maryland State Arts grants, research grants from the Willson Center of Arts and Humanities and were accepted to the highly competitive residency at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts.

Rachel Debuque is a three dimensional artist and designer who focuses on sculpture, installation and performance work. She has an extensive national exhibition record including shows at The Cue Foundation (New York, NY), Soil Gallery (Seattle, WA), and Vox Populi (Philadelphia, PA). She was a Southern Constellations Fellow at Elsewhere: A Living Museum and resident artist at The Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts. In 2017, She was awarded the Individual Artist Grant in Sculpture from the Maryland State Arts Council. She is currently an Assistant Professor at George Mason University and the director of the Studio Foundations Program. Rachel Debuque is also a certified yoga instructor in Hyattsville, Maryland.

Justin Plakas is artist and designer who focuses on photographic images, video, and new media work. He has an extensive national exhibition record, including Ortega y Gasset (New York, NY), Tiger Strikes Asteroid NY (New York, NY), and Untitled Fair (Miami, FL). He has held residencies at both The Bemis Center for Contemporary Art and Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. In 2018, he was awarded an Individual Artist Grant in Photography from the Maryland State Arts Council.