An acclaimed exhibition series, the Cell Series presents living artists and their work. It offers a rare opportunity to encounter work that is attempting to interpret and translate the world we universally experience in unique and surprising ways. The founders of the OJAC were passionate about supporting and showing living artists and their work - the museum continues this important mission with the Cell Series. 

Helen Altman’s work centers around common materials, objects, and images of animals and nature. The objects she utilizes in her work often derive from the flawed or discarded. Altman then makes alterations to these objects elevating them into the realm of “art,” thereby forcing interpretation of her choices and manipulations. Handmade moving blankets embellished with animal imagery represent change and impermanence along with insulation and protection. Drawings of animals burned into paper using a small propane torch suggest the fragility of animals and nature. Domestic items like a continuous “weeping” iron among a large pile of men’s shirts references individuals trapped in pre-defined roles. 

Her choices in material and imagery are broad; their humor and absurdity lead to deeper interpretations associated with loneliness and isolation among overcrowding, separation, and the loss of individuality and identity. 

For the OJAC’s Cell Series exhibition, Altman will include never before seen works from her household “habitat” collection—common objects that started out as personal collection objects of the artist. The installation will also include her iconic “altered appliances,” woven wire birds, and a series of seed and spice skulls. 

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HELEN ALTMAN, Sticks and Stones 3, 2018, acrylic on vintage slate chalkboard, cast plaster, & laser print, 22.5’ x 32.5 x 2" Photo by Julie Thibodeaux. 

Helen Altman was born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama and currently resides in Fort Worth, Texas. She earned her BFA in 1981 and her MA in 1986, both at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, followed by her MFA in 1989, from the University of North Texas, Denton. Her work is included in the permanent collections of the Art Museum of Southeast Texas, Beaumont; the Dallas Museum of Art; the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; and the Sarah Moody Gallery of Art, the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa. She has participated in numerous museum exhibitions including solo exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego; the Glassell School of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; and the Grace Museum, Abilene. Selected group exhibitions include the McKinney Avenue Contemporary, Dallas; the Museum of Arts and Design, New York; the Old Jail Art Center, Albany; the Meadows Museum, Southern Methodist University, Dallas; and the Chelsea Art Museum, New York. 

The 2018 Cell Series is sponsored in part by Susie & Joe Clack, Amy & Patrick Kelly, Gene & Marsha Gray, Sally & Robert Porter and generously supported by the McGinnis Family Fund of Communities Foundation of Texas.