Jeremy Boyle, Mark Franchino reimagine functional objects in non-functional ways in ‘Untitled 7’

Pieces by Jeremy Boyle and Mark Franchino are displayed in the exhibition “Untitled 7” in the second-floor gallery of the Strohl Art Center. Dave Munch/Photo Editor

Julia Weber
Staff writer

For Jeremy Boyle and Mark Franchino, functional objects do not need to be functional.

“Untitled 7” in Strohl Art Center focuses on craft and collaboration. The exhibition was curated by Judy Barie, the Susan and John Turben Director of CVA Galleries, and is on view through Sunday.

While most of the objects in the exhibition are crafted from wood and are based primarily in functional objects, that’s essentially where their similarities end.

The exhibition includes a number of lighting fixtures recreated with wood, as well as an electrical conduit system and heating duct, also made from wood. Nearby, portraits of light bulbs and a chair explore the boundaries between the two-dimensional and three-dimensional.

The centerpiece of the exhibition is a sculptural lawn chair, crafted out of wood based on designs of older, lawn chairs typically woven with fabric or plastic.

“Chair (drawing).”

Boyle has always loved work that is understated. He likes to look at utilitarian objects as a source of inspiration.

“The formal topic of our work is looking at utilitarian things – things that are designed for function, not for their aesthetic qualities, but in that they have a certain aesthetic quality,” he said.

Often, the duo are taking inspiration from these everyday objects, like lamps and electrical conduits, and recreating them in unfamiliar ways, using wood and other unexpected mediums to un-familiarize a familiar object.

Boyle and Franchino largely focus on craft and traditionally utilitarian objects with an exploration of familiar objects in unfamiliar contexts. The two artists have been working together for about 10 years, originally collaborating while working at Clarion University.

“It kind of reached a point where it became a really fun collaboration where we could never figure out where an idea came from or how we arrived where we arrived. It was never his part/my part,” Boyle said. “It really became this great blur of authorship which is one of the things we’re most excited about and keeps us going.”

The two started with shared exhibitions of both separate and collaborative work, but the partnership eventually evolved into something much greater. Now, they can hardly distinguish who originates their many ideas and works.

“Light Bulb (drawings).”

Boyle, who comes from a background as a musician, enjoys the collaboration with Franchino. While his work with Franchino is very smooth and in-step, Boyle said sometimes collaboration with a lot of friction produces some of the most interesting and thought-provoking results.

“Untitled 7” combines the pieces of sculpture with two-dimensional portraits that portray the same installations situated in the exhibition.

For the pieces in the show, Boyle said the drawings often followed their sculptural counterparts in creation. 

“It’s not a drawing that leads to the sculpture; it’s the sculpture that leads to the drawing,” he said.

The two artists are far more interested in the process of making rather than the end result that stems from it. 

“Flourescent Bulb (drawings).”

“Even though we make objects, make things, kind of get to that point, we’re always far more interested in that process – the iterative process,” Boyle said.

For the two, it’s exciting to collaborate, and their partnership helps to push both of them further in their experimentation, artistry and craft.

“Any good collaboration is more than the sum of its parts,” Boyle said. “It’s really fun to be able to do something that’s equally yours and not yours.” 


The author Julia Weber

Julia Weber is a rising junior in Ohio University’s Honors Tutorial College where she is majoring in journalism and minoring in art history. Originally from Athens, Ohio, this is her first summer in Chautauqua and she is thrilled to cover the theater and dance performances. She serves as the features editor for Ohio University’s All-Campus Radio Network, a student-run radio station and media hub, and she is a former intern for Pittsburgh Magazine. Outside of her professional life, Julia has a newly adopted cat, Griffin, and she is an avid fan of live music and a dedicated ceramicist.