Proximity and Touch

On View :: Sat. Sep. 9th, 2023 - Sun. Oct. 29th, 2023

Proximity and Touch: Louisiana Group Show Exhibition 2023
Vernell Dunams, Ryan Leitner, Kelsey Scult, and Jill Stoll

September 9 – October 29, 2023

Louisiana Group Show 

Annually, Antenna Collective orchestrates the ‘Louisiana Call for Exhibitions’, which offers Louisiana artists the opportunity to have their artwork evaluated by a distinguished guest juror, who meticulously selects exhibiting artists from submissions sent in response to an open call for entries. This rigorous selection process yields two exhibitions annually, a Louisiana solo exhibition and Louisiana group exhibition. Both serve as prominent platforms for showcasing artists from the Gulf South region.

Proximity and Touch

Curator’s Statement

The aesthetic kinship between these four artists is strong. But, as you look at each artist’s work more closely, other connections arise. Relationship and tactility inform each practice, in different ways. Vernell Dunams and Kelsey Scult allude to intimate relationships, while Ryan Leitner and Jill Stoll consider the relationship between the self and something larger. Though all four artists work with different media and concepts, each artist prompts us to reflect on our own relationships; on how we are relational (and how we are not). 


In Dunams’ series of black and white photos, sensuality and desire are suggested in the titles and imagery. The plump flesh of a just-peeled fruit is tenderly placed among ragged sheets of cardboard and dried flowers. String is pulled taut. Clothespins hold everything precariously in place.

In Scult’s installation, sound and gesture tell a story of two people’s lives, intertwined. The tapestries of dried, hand-sewn orange peels cover and contrast with smooth knots of hard metal, in a series of suspended forms. Entangled and untangled—desire and precarity coexist.

Leitner’s approach is grounded in a Queer perspective. Each portrait represents a complex being, with freedom of movement, in an open, abstracted landscape. Leitner’s Strange Inheritance: The Riot Book emerged from the artist’s durational performance titled Strange Inheritance in which the artist traveled in the US and Europe, cleaning and helping to restore Queer Monuments.

Jill Stoll makes weavings from cast-off cardboard boxes, the chaff of our mail-order habits. The works are reminiscent of woven thatch of palm leaves or bamboo, but we cannot ignore the source and significance of the material itself and the consumerism it represents. In Stoll’s hands, the colorful, printed brand-messages from the original boxes are refined into buzzing, meditative designs, bringing forth beauty from waste.

My words provide only one frame of reference. Please take time to consider these artists’ works and their words directly; they speak for themselves.

Betsy Lohrer Hall
11 August 2023

Artist Bios:

Kelsey Scult

Kelsey Scult is a New Orleans-based filmmaker and multidisciplinary artist. Her work explores
the processing of inherited memory, the psychic untangling of intimate partner violence and the physical intersection of desire and decay. Films Kelsey has produced and directed have played at Sundance, SXSW, Frameline, Outfest, Atlanta Film Festival and more. She is an alumna of the New Orleans Film Society’s Southern Producers Lab, The Gotham’s Narrative Lab, and the Southern Foodways Alliance Filmmaker Residency. She has exhibited her installation work across the country and abroad, including locally at The Front Gallery, The Ogden Museum of Southern Art, Tulane’s Carroll Gallery, and The Parlour Gallery. She was a founding member of Lucky Art Fair, New Orleans’ first Contemporary Art Fair. She received her BA from Oberlin College in Studio Art and her MFA from the University of New Orleans in Film. She is the Co-President of The Front Gallery in New Orleans, and Manager of Creative Services at the New Orleans Video Access Center (NOVAC) which supports independent filmmakers across Louisiana. 

Kelsey Scult, Detail shot of installation “GRIEVE ME PLEASE”, 2023, Dehydrated orange peels, thread, metal chain, ceramic tub, wooden chairs from the artist’s kitchen

Ryan Leitner

Ryan Leitner is a collage artist, with an artistic inquiry towards the visualization of queerness through the body, history, and space. His two dimensional pieces on canvas create other worldly body-scapes and atmospheres that are molded and stacked together through his process of painting, sculpture, photography, and alternative printmaking. Since receiving his MFA from The Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University, Leitner studied at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, has received grants and fellowships from the The LGBT+ Archives Project of Louisiana, Antenna’s Platform Fund, and The Museum of Fine Arts, and has exhibited at The Plumbing Museum, Area Gallery, and Magnum Photo Foundation, and The Front Gallery.

Ryan Leitner, Brick Dust, Archival ink, acrylic, canvas, photo transfer, 2022, 30in x 34in

Vernell Dunams

Originally from New Orleans, Vernell Dunams is a lens-based artist concerned with photographing as a means of social and political preservation. In 2018, Vernell obtained a B.F.A in Studio Arts with concentration in Photography from LSU. Following this, Vernell spent two years working abroad in Madrid, Spain, which influenced Vernell’s process of creation and visual interests. Vernell is concerned with the intersections of identity and the effects brought about by social and political norms. His work makes use of moving image, video, digital photography, and film photography with an emphasis on the latter. Often, he is concerned with the relationship that establishes in the process and making of photographs, and how through this process the result is a combination of photographer and artist.

Vernell Dunams, “i find myself victim of a love poem gone wrong”, 2022, 16×16 (image) 16×20 (framed)
C-Print from Medium Format Film (featured image)

Jill Stoll 

Jill Stoll never met a medium she doesn’t like. She believes in the hand that draws, sketches, paints, collages, weaves, sews, knits, carves, prints, and releases the shutter of a (film) camera. Upon visiting Jill’s studio in Arabi, LA, one notices how her work engages all five senses. She forages for what the world has too much of as a catalyst for her creative work, such as cardboard, plastic bottles, and cat’s claw (uncaria tomentosa). Jill learned to weave as a student of Lina Dean’s at Interlochen Arts Academy her junior year of high school. So powerful was Dean’s teaching, it set a course that still informs how she sees the world. Currently, Jill is engaged in studying the systems of pattern and structure from which handmade baskets are made. Having joined the faculty in 2009, she is a Professor of Practice in Design at Tulane University School of Architecture.

Jill Stoll, Detail Image: “Hello Fresh 2 (Outside/Inside)”, Paper (formerly cardboard boxes), glue