Jo Yarrington creates site-specific exhibitions, public art commissions and collaborative projects using varied combinations of glass, waxed surfaces, found objects and experimental analog photography. Since 2013 she has explored the history of the nuclear industry and the toxic nature of uranium through site referential installations. Containment and spillage and what is seen (or unseen) are major themes. Her initial work explored marine environments directly affected by nuclear power plants in New York and Connecticut, focusing on the processing, storage, and handling of nuclear waste. Recent projects have delved into the complicated history of uranium mining in Utah, the aftermath of experiments conducted and discoveries made by Marie Curie, as well as the tragic story of the Radium Girls, which touched on gender politics and workers’ rights.
Yarrington’s drawings, book arts, photographs, and architecturally-based installations have been shown in exhibitions at Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, CT; the Museum of Glass, Tacoma, WA; Grounds for Sculpture, Hamilton, NJ; Odetta Gallery, Brooklyn, NY; Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts Museum, China; Galeria Sala Uno, Rome; Centro de las Artes de Guanajuato, Mexico; Christuskirche, Germany; and Glasgow School of Art, Scotland.
Yarrington is a recipient of fellowships from The Pollock Krasner Foundation; New York Foundation for the Arts; Joan Mitchell Foundation; Cill Rialaig Artists Residency, Ireland; MacDowell Colony; SIMS Residency, Iceland; American Scandinavian Foundation; Leighton Artist Colony, Banff, Alberta, Canada; Brandywine Workshop, Philadelphia; and the Pennsylvania Council for the Arts. In 2001, she represented the United States at the Sharjah Biennial, United Arab Emirates. In 2010 she won the Bronze Prize at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Skopje, Macedonia, and in 2012 was represented in the Berlin Biennial. Jo Yarrington lives and works in New York City. She is represented by the Odetta Gallery, Brooklyn.
As a component of her ongoing research of uranium, Yarrington became interested both in diagrammatic models of electrons in orbit around a uranium nucleus and also Harold Edgerton’s 1950s photographs of nuclear explosions in which he used the Rapatronic camera. After reviewing mid-twentieth century board games made in response to that era’s craze surrounding nuclear power, such as “Uranium Rush,” she began to consider the model of the uranium atom like a board game in which each of the 92 electrons would be replaced by 4.5-inch spheres made of uranium glass. Inside each sphere is a manipulated image taken from other sources of online atomic bomb documentation; personal archives; archival research at the Harry S. Truman Museum; the BnF collection of Marie Curie’s original notebooks and the archives of the Marie Curie Museum. The images in these spheres, when backlit, become small projection devices, creating in miniature a history emanating the uses and abuses of uranium.
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