Melinda Hunt, video still from  Loneliness in a Beautiful Place , 2018

Melinda Hunt, video still from Loneliness in a Beautiful Place, 2018

In the Presence of AbsencE

Inbal Abergil, Emily Carris, Leigh Davis, Valery Jung Estabrook, Hock E Aye Vi Edgar Heap of Birds, Nene Humphrey, Melinda Hunt, Jaamil Olawale Kosoko, M. Carmen Lane, Todd Shalom

Curated by Jillian Steinhauer

March 27–May 11, 2019

Opening Reception: Wednesday March 27, 2019, 5:00 PM–8:00 PM (with a curatorial walk-through at 5:00 PM, followed by a performance by Jaamil Olawale Kosoko).

In the Presence of Absence explores the creative possibilities of mourning and looks at how people transmute suffering over the loss of loved ones into ways to live.

American society is grounded in the denial of grief. The United States was founded on the slaughter of Native Americans and the enslavement of Africans, yet there are no official, national monuments to attest to these crimes or honor their victims. Meanwhile, statues venerating those who perpetrated them—colonizers and missionaries, slaveholders and Confederate soldiers—abound, creating a sanitized and glorified narrative about the roots of this country. Who gets to be memorialized, and whose perspectives are privileged in that process? These unresolved historical traumas and the erasure of violence underpin our present political reality. Some Americans are mourning a version of the country they thought they knew, while others have been unable to escape the consequences of its myths for centuries.

American culture treats death as either a public spectacle or a highly private matter. But the attendant sorrow and pain don’t disappear, and time doesn’t heal all wounds; it just changes them. In the Presence of Absence posits that one way to move forward is to deal with our grief—to admit its existence, sit with it, make space for it, and work through it. To hold it in its constancy and discover what it can engender. The artists in this exhibition offer a place to start. For more information about the exhibition, read the full press release here.

The exhibition’s curatorial fellow is Nick Witchey and curatorial adviser is Meghana Karnik. Melinda Hunt’s work appears courtesy the Canada Council for the Arts. In The Presence of Absence is dedicated to Henrietta, Suzanne, and Bronia.


end_notes is a 44-page risographed publication with original contributions from Michelle García and Jessica Lynne, dedications by the artists, and a curatorial essay by Jillian Steinhauer, available for purchase or download below. The publication was designed by Partner & Partners and printed at EFA’s Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop. Hardcopies of the end_notes series can be requested by sending an email to:

A digital copy of the publication can be downloaded as a PDF here and viewed in a two-page format online here.


Review by Louis Bury in Hyperallergic (May 4, 2019) (PDF)




Inbal Abergil

Johnson from the series N.O.K. - Next of Kin, photographic print, 30 x 40 in.

Johnson from the series N.O.K. - Next of Kin, photographic print, 16 x 20 in

Ortega from the series N.O.K. - Next of Kin, photographic print, 20 x 30 in.

Ortega from the series N.O.K. - Next of Kin, photographic print, 20 x 30 in.


Emily Harris, Reclaimed vol. 2

Archival inkjet ink, linen fabric, linen yarn dyed with South Carolina indigo, silk thread dyed with madder root, naturally dyed silk, antique cotton batting from mid-1800s, cotton/polyester thread, catnip, cinnamon, goldenrod, rue, safflower, tansy, indigo, iron derived from early 1800s slave shackles, platinum & palladium print of the artist, cotton paper, salt from Arrowsic, ME, silk embroidery thread, 24k gold thread, coral, quartz, rock salt, antique Ashanti akua’ba, antique crochet doll (named Lucy), wooden peg holder, malachite, clay leaves, 81 x 128 x 24 in. (approximate)


Leigh Davis, Reunions

Wood, paint, masonite, moleskin, chair, mirror, 103 x 96 x 96 in.


Valery Jung Estabrook, Five Twenty Two #1-19, #21, #23-24, #26-28

25 unique single-channel videos on 7” tablets, 5:22 total run time each, looped

Music composed by John Driscoll


Hock E Aye Vi Edgar Heap of Birds, Dead Indian Stories

Monoprint, ink rag on paper, 15 x 22 in. each


Nene Humphrey

Circling the Center (Braiding Table), wood, wire, fabric, 36 x 36 x 33 in. (approximate)

If You Were To Peer Into The Mourner’s Skull, HD single-channel video, 4:27 total run time, looped, poem by Tom Sleigh


Melinda Hunt

After the Fire and Before AIDS: Sonia, acrylic inkjet on Somerset paper, 49.5 x 40 in.

Loneliness in a Beautiful Place: AIDS Burials on Hart Island, single-channel video, 8:21 total run time

Traveling Cloud Museum 2.0, creative software and storytelling platform developed in collaboration with Studio AIRPORT and


Jaamil Olawale Kosoko, Accidental Saint (J.I.K.D.I.S.Y.G.I.B.)

Mixed-media installation, dimensions variable

M. Carmen Lane

Akhsó (Grandma): This Is A New Experience, black-and-white iPhone images printed on vinyl, mixed-media construction, dimensions variable

Skin Hunger/the Artist As Caregiver, sound piece (originally published in Anomaly, issue26), 2:50 total run time, looped