Jenny Polak: Homeward Bound Project Room Exhibition

Elisa Smilovitz / 551.486.3273 / [email protected]
James Michael Nichols, BRIC / 718.683.5980 / [email protected]

Jenny Polak: Homeward Bound
Project Room Exhibition

Polak presents an altered domestic interior space, exploring homes as sites of community, contestation, and organizing.
On View: October 10, 2023 – January 21, 2024


Jenny Polak, Wall Tiles, 2021, (detail) Set of 4 tiles, Slipcast ceramic, celadon glaze tile: 9 ½ x 7 ½ x 1 inches set: 39 x 90 x 1 inches

BRIC, a leading, multi-disciplinary arts and media institution anchored in downtown Brooklyn, is pleased to present a solo exhibition by 2022-23 BRIClab: Contemporary Art resident Jenny Polak. Drawing on her background in architecture, Polak will transform the Project Room into a strangely altered domestic design showroom. Jenny Polak: Homeward Bound will be on view at BRIC House (647 Fulton St.) in the Project Room from October 10, 2023 to January 21, 2024, with an opening reception on Tuesday, October 10, from 7:00 – 9:00 pm. To attend the opening reception, please RSVP.

As a BRIClab resident, Polak examined her past work and projects not fully realized. The residency helped Polak forge new connections and resolutions to previously unresolved pieces. Homeward Bound brings together her new and on-going installations, sculpture, and socially-engaged projects to address resistance to state-sanctioned violence, mass incarceration, and immigration detention through the language of an interior design showroom.

The domestic space has always been political, as the household is a site for gathering, labor, debate, and organizing. Polak expands on this idea by creating works that nod to items found within an interior design showroom, but with a political twist. For instance, the backsplash Wall Tiles is a series of four tiles that depict a continuous frieze of a bas-relief prison wall and golf course imagery which highlight the dangerous normalization of incarceration and border violence. Other wall treatments include Raided Worksites Wallpaper, made from paintings of worksites subject to militaristic immigration raids looking to arrest and deport undocumented workers. For tableware, Polak made slip-cast porcelain cups shaped like a ship’s bow with a pattern based on her Migrant Boats ink painting imagining a fleet of migrant vessels crossing the Mediterranean Sea. In Homeward Bound, traditional seating is minimized to a wall sculpture. For Border Sofa, Polak created a couch reminiscent of a diner booth, a place that often shows aspirational images of other locations and employs many immigrant workers. Based on observations made while traveling the southern border with Tucson Samaritans, a group that provides water and clothing for migrants, the backrest shows America’s southern border, winding across a desert landscape. At the same time, the seat cushions contain burial mounds honoring those who passed away while crossing the desert.

Using hybridized forms of traditional home decor with contemporary imagery of borders, prisons, and their histories, Polak positions the domestic space as a place for the exchange of ideas and awareness of both the movement of people and their containment.

Homeward Bound is curated by BRIC Curatorial Associate Maria McCarthy and will be on view during the same exhibition cycle as B-side: (Broken) Memory and Remix, curated by Jenny Gerow, BRIC Chief Curator of Contemporary Art and Zahra Sherzad, Art Curator and Producer, and in collaboration with Taylor Dews, Curatorial Intern in BRIC’s Main Gallery. Coffee + Conversation will take place in November 2023. Please check BRIC’s website and social media for updates and further public programming associated with the exhibitions.

Maria McCarthy, BRIC Curatorial Associate, said:

“Informed by her background in architecture and design, Jenny Polak’s sculptures, drawings, and installations reconfigure elements of homes, prisons, and borders to speak to the most urgent issues of our time. We hope that presenting her work at BRIC House will further illuminate how local communities are shaped by and have the power to shape national and global systems.”

Jenny Polak said:

“Homeward Bound invokes an altered domestic reality in which those who live comfortably use their homes to support the efforts of people grappling with hostile authorities and unjust laws. I’m grateful to the BRICLab residency which gave me space to expand my socially-engaged projects with people who seek home having survived imprisonment, and to make pieces of an imagined home decor that are beautiful despite reflecting the unequal conditions of their existence. The works chosen for the Project Room share an urgent understanding of a world in which some people have always had to leave or hide to survive, and others must decide to act in solidarity even if it means they have to break laws.”

Learn more about the exhibition here: https://www.bricartsmedia.org/art-exhibitions/jenny-polak-homeward-bound

Jenny Polak (she/her)
Born in London, England, UK; based in Brooklyn, NY
Jenny Polak has been featured in exhibitions and programs at the Brooklyn Museum, BRIC, Smack Mellon, and Pierogi Gallery, Brooklyn, NY; MoMA PS1 and Socrates Sculpture Park, Queens, NY; Brief Histories, New York, NY; the Newark Museum, NJ; the Tufts University Art Galleries, Medford, MA; Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, TX; the Hyde Park Art Center and Weinberg/Newton Gallery, Chicago, IL. Polak has also exhibited internationally at the First Floor Gallery, Harare, Zimbabwe; Les Kurbas Centre, Kyiv, Ukraine; Barbican Concourse Gallery, London; Dean Clough, Halifax, UK; and Van Abbemuseum Eindhoven, Holland. She was awarded residencies and fellowships at the Camargo Foundation, BRIC, Villa Albertine, Socrates Sculpture Park, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Grand Canyon National Parks, and the Graham Foundation. Polak is currently a resident artist with The Fortune Society under the Creatives Rebuild New York’s Artist Employment Program. Polak attended the Whitney Independent Study Program. She received her BA in Architecture from Cambridge University, her BA in Fine Art and Critical Studies from St. Martins School of Art, and her MFA in Fine Arts from the School of Visual Arts.

BRIC’s Contemporary Art program benefits from generous private funding from Ford Foundation, Harold and Colene Brown Family Foundation, Robert Lehman Foundation, and TD Ready Commitment. Public support is provided, in part, by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the New York City Council.



ABOUT BRIClab: Contemporary Art

BRIClab: Contemporary Art is a year-long residency for professional, local contemporary artists.The residency program offers visual artists space, feedback, and resources to develop and advance their practice. The residency aims to build a stronger and more diverse artistic community in Brooklyn by supporting long term growth and fostering relationships across disciplines. Learn more at bricartsmedia.org/briclab/briclab-contemporary-art


BRIC is a leading arts and media institution anchored in Downtown Brooklyn whose work spans contemporary visual and performing arts, media, and civic action. For over forty years, BRIC has shaped Brooklyn’s cultural and media landscape by presenting and incubating artists, creators, students, and media makers. As a creative catalyst for our community, we ignite learning in people of all ages and centralize diverse voices that take risks and drive culture forward. BRIC is building Brooklyn’s creative future. Learn more at bricartsmedia.org.

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