My grandmother could do that


Rather than using oil paint or watercolors or clay, conceptual artist Kateřina Šedá’s media of choice are the residents of her native Czech city of Brno-Líšeň. For instance, in her 2001 performance piece Exhibition Behind the Windows she tasked 150 Brno-Líšeň residents to create window displays of a chosen knick-knack to passersby. In the 2005 exhibit It Doesn’t Matter, now at the Renaissance Society, Šedá collected more than 600 sketches by her late grandmother, Jana Šedá. The drawings depict items such as drill bits, hack saws, and putty knives that were sold at the Home Supplies shop, whose inventory her grandmother managed from 1950 to 1983.

Šedá encouraged her grandmother to make the drawings as a form of art therapy; previously her grandmother, who moved into Šedá's house after her husband's death, would spend countless hours in bed watching television instead of talking to her family or reminiscing about her past. But Šedá’s task put her to work recalling the store’s supplies. By presenting the drawings, Šedá suggests, the exhibit examines how people reflect themselves through their work.

The exhibit runs through February 10.


Photo: Conceptional artist Kateřina Šedá's grandmother, Jana Šedá, draws items sold at the Home Supplies store in her native Brno-Líšeň.

Photo courtesy the Renaissance Society.

January 9, 2008