Formed Under Pressure

4 December 2020 – 10 January 2021

Gallery hours: by appointment only (david@marginalutlity.org)

Marginal Utility and Grizzly Grizzly are proud to present Formed Under Pressure, a group exhibition featuring the work of Lola Buck, Kevin Lee and Jessica Stanhagen.

This exhibition, presented by the Studio Art MFA graduating class at The University of the Arts, explores concepts of identity in relation to oneself and the personal experiences each of these artists hold. These three artists explore identity in multiple fashions including a variety of media and nuanced approaches to their art making. Through the development of their practices transpired an exploration of self as these artists processed their societal expectations in relation to their work. Through the work displayed, each artist rejects the limitations brought forth by the expectations placed upon them. Jessica Stanhagen, Lola Buck, and Kevin Lee all display acts of refusal as their lack of conformity reveals itself through their practices.


Kevin Lee’s work is an exploration of what he refers to as his constructed identity. Through the adoption of projections and expectations placed upon him, Lee encounters a fictitious belief that society allows us the ability to govern our own identity. Through the work presented, the artist challenges the societal constructs placed on his identity and rejects his given subjectivity, one ultimately malleable by society and those reinforcing its ideologies. His work can be described as deconstructed and recontextualized as his practice involves the use of past works to convey a sense of self-development and exploration. The artist combines photographic self-portraiture and sculptural techniques to reveal the process of this phenomenon.


Jessica Stanhagen explores themes of motherhood and time through a variety of media including mother/daughter collaborative painting and drawing, photography and video. Her work documents interactions with her daughter and reflects how her role as a working mother intertwines with her studio practice. Stanhagen investigates and experiments with boundaries of time through specific guidelines that she sets to limit each studio session to mimic the fragmentation of her maternal schedule. Stanhagen’s work pushes against society’s notion of the perfect mother and reveals the complex reality of motherhood through the imagery of imperfect moments.


Philadelphia based enby artist Lola Buck’s current installation ‘Nous-Nexus-Organ’ explores mystical interior spaces of the soul-mind and seeks to replicate them into the world. With hints at mythos and theology, colorful layered forms synthesize found objects and natural materials to explore the effects of growing up within heteronormative American society and the search to find a deeper, cathartic, and meaningful existence as a result of that space. Their work takes on topics of traditionally polarized frameworks – specifically Roman Catholic, esoteric, and BDSM practices – bridging them together to witness how each might be seen as healing and offer a framework inclusive of them all. This space hopes to illuminate the possibilities when adversarial thoughts of ‘self and other’ can be relearned as ‘self as another other’.

Using a vast array of materials, they gather up used objects, thrift and trash like mirror frames, fake flowers, candlesticks and bowls as metaphors for the experiences and knowledge that seemed too trivial or no longer needed. Through their practice, these objects are re-sanctified into objects anew – like an old piece of wisdom seen in a new light.They seek to communicate the fruits of growing sensitive to one’s behavioral patterns of addiction/attraction and aversion/anxiety. Within their work they track flows of information and build up layers of connections that abstract our lived experiences in ways that mimic maps or massive M.C. Escher game boards. In this period of covid isolation through an already tumultuous time in politics, this space looks to be an escape for contemplation and introspection that is not calming, but instead empowers and revitalizes creative, novel responses within us.