Joseph Grigely creates works that explore the failures, idiosyncrasies, and ruptures of language and communication. An artist who has been deaf since childhood, Grigely first became known in the early 1990s for a series of works called Conversations with the Hearing. Displayed as small table-top tableaux, intimate wall-based works, or room-sized installations, the works in this series are generated from the scraps of paper and handwritten notes that Grigely makes to converse with people when he cannot read their lips. One ongoing theme in Grigely’s work is the exploration of sound—from his own memories of sound as a child, to investigations of how sound might look.
This new exhibition brings together a number of recent works, including a new commission called St. Cecilia. Named after the patron saint of music, St. Cecilia is a two-channel video installation featuring footage of a choir singing several beloved Christmas carols with new lyrics compiled by Grigely. The artist’s alterations reflect the misunderstandings and confusions of lip-reading, and probe the nuances in the relationship between seeing and hearing.