New York-based artists and brothers, Steven and William Ladd, have dedicated the past thirteen years to collaborating on hand sewn boxes containing meticulously constructed environments related to their shared memories. Their values- Spend your life doing what you love, Be focused and disciplined, Collaborate- are embedded in their work, and indeed, in their lives.
When closed and stacked, the boxes become sculptural Towers, majestic works of art, at rest until the Towers are dismantled and contents revealed. It is often through a rhythmic and choreographed performance that the brothers open the boxes and arrange them in their landscape formations. The landscapes are often composed of found materials that the brothers have worked- sewn, beaded, scrolled, rolled, stacked- into tightly organized environments that reference memories from their lives.
Materials from The Invisible Dog Art Center in Brooklyn- a former belt and buckle factory turned into a major hub for art and artists may have been their largest influx of materials yet. Lucien Zayan, the director of that space, generously made all of the leftover trimmings and trinkets of the space available to the artists to fuel years of creativity. Relationships are at the heart of the brothers’ work, and their relationship with The Invisible Dog, and Lucien, have fostered a rich and powerful collaboration.
In 2011, the Ladd brothers had their first solo museum exhibition at the Contemporary Museum Hawaii. Using a grant from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts (2010), they were given the entire museum—over 5,000 square feet—to showcase new works featuring Ant Infestation – a large Tower that opens to reveal a beautiful landscape of hand-beaded trees with an infestation of 600 small cast ants.
Following their hugely popular and critically acclaimed Hawaii show, the brothers began working on a new series, entitled Shaboygen, focused on their shared high school memories presented at the Invisible Dog Art Center, and internationally at Essl Museum of Contemporary Art, Austria, 2012. For this body of work the brothers pushed the scale of the boxes. And, for the first time, some of the boxes were mounted on the wall, representing a major shift in the presentation of the works, which have traditionally been placed on the floor and viewed from above.
The brothers then had an exhibition of around 500 objects at The Mingei International Museum in their museum solo, Function + Fantasy. This exhibition traces those threads through the artists’ work over the past thirteen years.
In October 2014, Steven and William had a solo exhibition at the newly constructed Parrish Art Museum in the Hamptons, New York. Here their works showed their exploration of shared memories from their grade school, whose name became the show’s title- Mary Queen of the Universe.