CEAM Announces Sasha Wortzel’s “Dreams of Unknown Islands: Saint Augustine” Exhibition

Photograph of Sasha Wortzel.
March 2, 2023
The Crisp-Ellert Art Museum is pleased to announce “Dreams of Unknown Islands: Saint Augustine,” a multisensory exhibition of work by New York-based visual artist and filmmaker, Sasha Wortzel running from March 2 to April 22, 2023.

A conversation with the artist and a walkthrough of the exhibition will be held on Friday, March 3 at 5 p.m., to be followed by an opening reception. This event is free and open to the public. Dreams of Unknown Islands is a love letter to the "ecological dreamscape” of Florida, where Wortzel was born and raised.

Through an immersive installation that encompasses sound and projected film, Wortzel harnesses the state’s particular beauty. Aural ruminations emanate from four functional sculptures, or "listening islands,” summoning diverse ecosystems-- coastal waters, animal migrations, and the rich aquatic life of Florida’s interior springs. The Kaddish, a Jewish prayer for the dead, is interwoven into the room as one of the sound channels. This mournful element works together with the other audio to help express some of Florida’s contradictions – a wild and beautiful land that continues to lose ground to overdevelopment and extraction.

Partially inspired by Wortzel’s visits to Northeast Florida as a part of the CEAM Artist Residency, a new sound piece will be included in this third installment of “Dreams of Unknown Islands.” Since the exhibition’s first iteration at Oolite Art in Miami in 2021, the exhibition has shifted and grown as Wortzel has spent time communing with coastlines from Florida to the Pacific Northwest-- every layer building on what came before and taking on new meaning with each new direction. This body of work also demonstrates the truly collaborative nature of their practice, as evidenced by their collaboration with a rich network of artists, writers, and keepers of the land.

“Dreams of Unknown Islands: St. Augustine,” was organized for the Crisp-Ellert Art Museum by Director Julie Dickover, and curated in 2022 by Stephanie Snyder and Kristan Kennedy for the Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery, Reed College. The original exhibition was curated by Kristan Kennedy, for Oolite Arts, in 2021. Kristan Kennedy is the Visual Art Curator at the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art; Stephanie Snyder is the director and curator of the Cooley Gallery, at Reed College.

This program is supported by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, and a grant from the Dr. JoAnn Crisp-Ellert Fund at The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida. In-Kind sponsorship is provided by Milliken.

The Crisp-Ellert Art Museum is an accessible building. If you are a person with a disability and need reasonable accommodations, please contact Phil Pownall at 904-819-6460. Sign Language Interpreters are available upon request with a minimum of three days’ notice.

For further information on programming, please visit  www.flagler.edu/ceam, or contact Julie Dickover at 904-826-8530 or crispellert@flagler.edu. The museum’s hours are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturday, 12 to 4 p.m., while classes are in session.


About the Artist:

Sasha Wortzel is a visual artist and filmmaker using video, installation, sculpture, sound, and performance to explore how the United States’ past and present are inextricably linked through resonant spaces and their hauntings.

Raised in South Florida and based in New York City, Wortzel specifically attends to sites and stories systematically erased or ignored from these regions’ histories. Projects examine queer place-making, ecology, and the systems that marginalize, extract, and erase communities, peoples, and histories.

Sasha Wortzel’s films have been screened at the Museum of Modern Art’s DocFortnight, Berlinale, True/False Film Festival, DOC NYC, BAMcinemaFest, Blackstar, New Orleans Film Festival, Wexner Center for the Arts, Smithsonian American Art Museum, and Aspen Art Museum, among others.

Solo exhibitions include “Dreams of Unknown Islands” at Cooley Memorial Art Gallery with Portland Institute of Contemporary Art in Portland, Oregon (2022) and Oolite Arts in Miami Beach, FL (2021). Her work has been exhibited in group exhibitions at the New Museum, Brooklyn Museum, The Kitchen, New York; Henry Art Gallery, Seattle; and SALTS, Birsfelden. Wortzel has been supported by the Sundance Institute, Ford Foundation, Field of Vision, Doc Society, Chicken and Egg Pictures, Art Matters, and an NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship.  Wortzel has participated in residencies including Silver Art Projects, Smack Mellon’s Artist Studio Program, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Workspace Program, Abrons Arts Center, Watermill Center, New York; AIRIE (Artists in Residence in the Everglades) and Oolite Arts, Miami Beach. 

Wortzel’s work is in the permanent collections of the Brooklyn Museum, Studio Museum of Harlem, Leslie Lohman Museum of Art, and Miami-Dade County Art in Public Places. Her film “This is an Address” (2020) is distributed by Field of Vision. “Happy Birthday Marsha!” (2018; co-) won a special mention at Outfest and is distributed by Frameline. Wortzel has been featured in publications including The New York Times, Artforum, Art in America, and New York Magazine.

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