Produced by The Hive, an interdisciplinary art community based in Brooklyn, NY, “The Spaghetti-O Incident” dissects cultural references from Guns n’Roses to Martha Rosler in an examination of gendered expectations and hetero-normativity. Curated by Yasmeen Abdallah, Kathie Halfin and Ameta Wegryzn, the exhibit – occurring at 1218 Prospect Ave in Oct 2019 – features a range of interdisciplinary artists including Julia Blume, Victoria Calabro, Kat Cope, Pei-Ling Ho, Sarah Dineen, Vyczie Dorado, Ariel Kleinberg, Alison Owen, Muhajir Subuur Lesure, Jean Carla Rodea, Jordan Segal and Yasmeen Abdallah. Works on view range from performance to photography, installation to sculpture. Examining the expectations placed upon women – as artists, homemakers, cooks, and human beings – “The Spagetti-O Incident” doesn’t shy away from provocative and subversive works questioning and thwarting ideas of identity and performativity.
Gender is digested through performance that takes place in a residence: the living space provides a non-neutral scenario for the exhibit loaded with valuable context. The white cube is denied the privilege of sterilizing these powerful works on view by Kat Cope, Pei-Ling Ho, Sarah Dineen, Yasmeen Abdallah, Jordan Segal & more. The weight of the body and gender in domestic spaces, such as the kitchen, is keenly felt in this artist-curated show. Many artists reflect on ideas of food, meals, and the domestic sphere, with dishware by Jordan Segal seemingly dissolving into itself, reminiscent of cake frosting or, more morbidly, melted skin. Kat Cope’s work similarly addresses the topic of skin: specifically, clothing as a type of armor that adheres to and protects the skin. Cope notes of her fiber-based installations that “like layers of skin, layers of fiber are resistant to tearing and puncture.” Blending together elements of fashion, protection, and performance, Kat Cope’s work lies at the boundary of representation and installation.
Intrinsically linked with these ideas of gender and inequity are the experiences of the body as a home one inhabits. Performances by Vyczie Dorado, among others, display the full force of yearning and attachment that artists have to the corporeal. Connection, longing and expectation cradle the exhibition, with “The Spaghetti-O Incident” proving a necessary, essential exhibition for our contemporary moment. Intersectional feminism and bold experimentation combine to make this exhibit one formidable presentation in this Fall New York Art season.
In the immaculate words of feminist and activist Gloria Steinem, “Each individual woman’s body demands to be accepted on its own terms.” This admonishment pervades the transcendental exhibition currently on view through Nov 10 at NYU’s Kimmel Windows exhibit space, “Lilia Ziamou: body politic /bädē päl-tik/”. Featuring works by Lilia Ziamou and curated by Pamela Jean Tinnen, the presentation of this collection of works outwardly facing the various passersby on LaGuardia Place and W. 3rd mounts a powerful, visionary response to how we consider ourselves – and others. It can reflect the ways in which our self-perception can become distorted. Perhaps it ruminates on how society constantly projects women’s bodies as idealized forms in various ads throughout public spaces. The exhibition leaves room for speculation and space to absorb the images – true or distorted – which lie before us. Works from this series by Ziamou question how new technology mediates the way we see ourselves or how others anticipate and perceive our appearance. Perceptions of the body are stacked against the realities of the biological building blocks that determines who we are and how we appear. Ziamou bravely steps forward into an artistic inquiry of what makes us human, playing with preconceived ideas of how we establish our physical identities as a whole from the sum of our parts. “By reimagining and reconstructing body fragments, I am constantly exploring and intrigued by the ways we can challenge existing constraints of form, materials, and processes,” remarks Ziamou.
This exhibition at the Kimmel Windows is curated by NYU’s own Pamela Jean Tinnen. The curator notes that she was drawn initially to Ziamou’s examination and recreation of human bones, re-contextualizing them as artworks. In the art canon of portraiture, it can be argued that Ziamou’s hip-bone 3-D scan recreations are a continuation of a centuries-long tradition of figurative art. Tinnen also reflects on other areas where these works draw parallel lines to long-existing or contemporary traditions. “What’s very interesting about Lilia’s work is how it plays on the abject, but through her ability to refine the subject through various media-processes, she creates visual distance while maintaining conceptual resonance.” Tinnen continues, “I’ve always been intrigued by Julia Kristiva’s writings on Abjection which discusses human reactions to encountering, as a primary example, a corpse. These encounters elicit horror but also a certain fascination. A corpse, or in the case of Lilia’s work, the human bone, puts us in the presence of ‘signified death.’ Kristiva suggests our horror-reaction results from a threatened breakdown in meaning caused by the loss of the distinction between subject and object, or between self and other.” This breakdown that occurs when the body perceives another body, yet recognizes this fragment of bone also depicts an invisible portion of one’s own self, causes a ripple of self-awareness. It can be argued that this exhibit also sparks empathy for others and an intimate acceptance of our own appearance – an appearance that can shift over time due to factors such as time and environment.
The environment of the exhibition itself, facing outward from the Kimmel Center, has shifted over time as the ground zero for artists in bohemian Greenwich Village in the mid-20th century to a haven for NYU students today. This public-facing exhibit – which some students can pass several times a day, along with other members of the community – offers a repeating opportunity for reflection and deeper engagement with how we can intrinsically seek deeper meaning in the very things we take for granted: the architecture of our physical selves and the urban planning and architecture defining our immediate presence in a larger cityscape. By keeping the vestibules in which Ziamou’s transcendental works are exhibited stark, almost clinical, those encountering the work can focus their attention on the prints and sculptures facing them from the Kimmel. “The exhibit’s design, simple and starkly white, contributes to a certain visual sterilization, which works well to present the artwork,” notes Tinnen. This simple structuring can be seen as a skeleton in itself: supporting works on view and allowing for immediate access of each fragment of the perpendicular exhibition along LaGuardia and Third.
Ziamou here has considered not only the internal structure of the body, but also how we decorate and define ourselves as members of a society. Her bone sculpture informs the installation referencing a garment she has presented in this same exhibit: an installation that servse as a recreation of our bodies as presented through our fashion choices. Her work speaks a subtle message about the inner psychology that determines our outward appearances: we can knowingly or unknowingly select garments that flatter and project aspects of our anatomy that we take pride in. The artist considers and puts forth artistic hypotheses about how various aspects of our countenance can be mistaken or recreated, creating subtle provocations for the audience. What effect do photo filters on apps have on our psychology? How can our appearances be manipulated for those who consume them? When is the last time we considered that the majority of who we are is not visible to the naked eye? Ziamou deftly plays with these questions, and more, in this impactful solo exhibition.
Curated by Pamela Jean Tinnen, don’t miss “Lilia Ziamou: body politic /bädē päl-tik/” – on view through Nov 10 at NYU’s Kimmel Windows exhibit space on LaGuardia Place and West Third at New York University.
A certain slant of self-reflection pervades artworks on view in Anthropocene Blues, on view at Wayfarers, Brooklyn (1109 DeKalb Ave) from September 29th through October 20th, 2019. Inspired by a poem written in 2012 by one of the last remaining Beat poets, the exhibition features reference to an elegiac view of nature – one foregrounded by our current climate crisis. The poem, written by Anne Waldman, refers to a “tragedy of the Anthropocene.” Works on view for the exhibition intimate at these ongoing issues, selections soaringly curated by Jane Ursula Harris. A New York-based writer who has contributed to Art in America, Artforum, BOMB, The Paris Review & more, Harris is an art history faculty member at the School of Visual Arts.
The exhibit features works by Wayfarers member artists Kate Alboreo, Yael Azoulay, Brian Davis, George Ferrandi, Cynthia Mason, Kharis Kennedy, Kate Kosek, David McQueen, Cynthia Reynolds, Maureen O’Leary, Meredith Starr and Elise Wunderlich. Mixed-media sculptures, paintings, installation and new media all combine to showcase a considerable range of artworks on view in this exhibit. Of particular notes, Azoulay’s installation True Cover provokes vivid links to alienation and immigration by tracing the introduction of the Eucalyptus plant to Israel, where it is not native. Meredith Starr’s almost obsessively crowded installation Plastic Pools/Look At What We’ve Done suggests, in miniature, the overwhelming amount of plastic that we have hoarded and discarded through our rampant consumerist attitudes.
Particularly haunting is Maureen O’Leary’s painting Untitled, in which attendees at a nighttime barbecue seem look past one another, obscured by smoke and flanked by ghostly dark trees and a bright moon. O’Leary’s deft treatment of light and shadow transform a social event into a scene of foreboding: the shadow of the trees behind seem to embrace the rising smoke emanating from the cooking fire below, forming a joint visual block that crowds out the human figures in the center and right side of the picture plane. Food is being cooked and consumed. Guests are overshadowed by the forest beyond. This juxtaposition of familiar and alien, consumption and rejection, elevate O’Leary’s subject matter – as does her study of contrasts between realism and impressionism. O’Leary depicts enough to make the scene feel vaguely familiar while leaving the trails of smoke and memory to each individual’s imagination. This blend of personal and universal – the view of consumption reminds us of our presence as consumers endangering the wider environment – proves to be almost intoxicating.
On October 11th, the curator held a conversation with artist Maureen O’Leary, who has both a painting and a photograph in the show. In conversation with O’Leary, Harris noted the prominence of the firelight by remarking that fire is a primal expression of humanity’s control over nature. The conversation continued around light: O’Leary engaging in the relationship between light and human nature, our existence and our yearning for belonging, both now and in the future, on an uncertain planet. Time and light, it turns out, are intrinsically linked: the relationship between humanity’s existence and the evolution of light’s role in advances in society can be distilled – it turns out – to a single barbecue scene in the Long Island woods.
Anthropocene Blues, curated by Jane Ursula Harris and on view at Wayfarers, Brooklyn (1109 DeKalb Ave) from September 29th through October 20th, 2019, serves as the 9th Annual Juried members show at the space.
On view at Pelham Art Center through November 2nd, “IN/FLUX” – co-curated by PAC Director Charlotte Mouquin and Gallery Advisory Board Member Victoria Rolett – features works by compelling contemporary artists wielding their perspectives on immigration as expressed through various mediums. Ranging from photography to painting, installation art to collage, artists on view don’t shy away from aspects of immigration – positive and negative – that have shaped the scope of their respective artistic practices. Artists on view include Corina S. Alvarezdelugo, Selin Balci, Nicky Enright, Jenny Polak, Alejandra Hernandez, David Rios Ferreira, Omid Shekari, Ruben Natal San Miguel, Natalia Nakazawa and Victoria-Idongesit Udondian. The works exude a sense that the wider narrative diversity brings to the table creates a more intriguing contemporary art experience.
Visitors to this unique survey exhibition are greeted at the entrance by sounds of immigrants reflecting on their experiences as captured by Victoria-Idongesit Udondian for her installation, “The Republic of Unknown Territory.” Various articles of clothing are scattered throughout the space, suspended in hidden narratives that allude to both the absence and presence of their owners.
Engaged with the macro, rather than micro, elements of immigration, artist Natalia Nakazawa creates a map of woven threads manifesting the journeys that immigrants have taken to start new lives for themselves in their chosen homes. Denoting trade and travel along immigrant pathways, Nakazawa creates her works by incorporating participation into her process. Similarly engaged with fabrics and mixed materials, this work contrasts with Udondian’s installation in its bird’s-eye view of the effects which immigration exerts on an international scale.
Ferreira’s pop-infused postcolonial drawings peel apart the layers of mythology and truth that comprise each immigrant’s personal history as well as society’s response to immigration. The colorful hues spanning intricate drawings in Ferreira’s works speak to an overarching, allegorical immigrant experience: a wider narrative that embraces aspects of varying sociopolitical relationships and international transportation.
Similarly engaged with maps, travel and transportation, Corina S. Alvarezdelugo’s collage works meld imagery unpacking the emotional weight of what lays near and far, subjects both intimate and remote.
On view at Pelham Art Center from September 20-November 2nd, “IN/FLUX” will host a variety of immigration-themed programming over the course of its time at the Center. These events include:
Lights illuminate a pastoral hillside, carving a serpentine path across a hill in Santa Rosa, CA. Seventy-two lights gently embrace the night air, each a memorial to a soul who had lost their lives trying to escape human trafficking on that expanse rising northward from Mexico and points south – seeking an escape toward the United States. Titled “The River of Migration”, this site-specific piece by Anne Katrine Senstad marks the apex of lyrical observation that forms the foundation of Kind of Green, an exhibition on view at Yi Gallery‘s nomadic space at 191 Henry Street from June 1-11, 2019. The show featured artworks by Senstad, Jamie Martinez, Si Jie Loo and Studio Roosegaarde daily from 11 AM-6 PM.
Confronting the current climate emergency facing off with civilization today, Kind of Green marks an interdisciplinary inquiry into the means of production that have resulted in accelerated climate change. From Studio Roosegaarde’s “SMOG FREE PROJECT” to Si Jie Loo’s “Privilege of Taste” and Jamie Martinez’s “VR Unity Global Warming”, artists included in the exhibition examine thoughtful courses of action that can change the future of our planet.
“SMOG FREE PROJECT” proposes an innovative solution to air pollution in urban landscapes. A seven-meter high tower designed for ionization, this structure marks a design-oriented solution to a global crisis. “We have created this current situation, now we have to design our way out of it,” notes Daan Roosegaarde of Studio Roosegaarde. The Smog Free Ring, an integral part of the project, encapsulates civilization’s detritus into a precious object: value transformed out of harmful chemical byproducts.
Jamie Martinez’s “VR Unity Global Warming” invites an introspective consideration of our current climate emergency. Populated by both surreal and realistic elements floating in a quixotic sea, the history of humanity is presciently documented, from ancient pyramids to modern day food trucks, in this dystopic alternate vision of our collective future.
Meditations on consumption permeate Si Jie Loo’s “Privilege of Taste”: ceramic cups and coffee grounds placed in dialogue with one another, laying bare both colonization and climate acceleration for the viewer. The visual, textural and sensorial relationship between the elements in “Privilege of Taste” provide a nuanced reflection on the artist’s relationship to the art market and her own background as a Chinese-Malaysian artist currently living and working in Providence, RI. The artist provides a departure point for visitors to Kind of Green searching for answers to how the current climate emergency affects society, and who will feel environmental disasters in the wake of our changing climate the most quickly and keenly.
Loo, Martinez, Senstad and Roosegaarde collectively provide an intersectional reflection on the climate emergency in Kind of Green, offering speculative approaches to how citizens across class and gender, urban and rural, and Global North and South can thwart and adapt in a changing climate. Perhaps most significantly, the exhibition provides a window into the types of solutions sorely required of developed nations in stemming the tide for citizens who neither generated, nor seek out, climate emergencies at a scale that can wipe entire nations off the map. Across multiple mediums ranging from ceramics to installation to painting and new media, Kind of Green allows visitors a sense of how artists and designers are leading the way in this paradigm shift toward a society actively mobilizing against climate change. A singular exhibition, Kind of Green welcomes the diverse viewpoints of creators boldly leading the way towards envisioning a new future where we live, artfully, in harmony with our planet.
Curiouser and Curiouser. –Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
“Does domestic bliss equal artistic death?” This is the question that our heroine, Alice – a painter – asks in a full-length musical production, “Painted Alice,” for which the exhibit Drink Me, Taste Me – An Exhibition of Curious Things serves as a stage. The exhibition, on view at Plaxall gallery April 11-May 12, serves as a look into the contemporary artists working on the borderline of illusion, adventure, and curiosity. Curated by AHA Fine Art & Plaxall Art Gallery’s Norma Homberg, the exhibit offers new experiences and breadth of emotion accessible to visitors of all ages and backgrounds.
Featuring fifty artists on view throughout the space working in a variety of mediums, the exhibition also curiously serves as a platform for the afore-mentioned “Painted Alice” musical, in which Alice (a painter) has lost all inspiration after getting her first commission, distancing herself from her partner and falling through her blank canvas into a visual-art inspired wonderland. Conversely, the visual art on view in Drink Me, Taste Me is inspired, in return, by Carroll’s original Alice in Wonderland book. Thus the reciprocal relationship between this new painter Alice and the original Alice presented throughout this art exhibition is established.
This exhibition features artists such as Kat Ryals, Elan Bogarín & Jonathan Bogarín, Arlene Rush, Karen Dimit, Jean Foos, Chloe Moon, Robin G Cole, Hisayasu Takashio, and many more. Featuring notes of surrealism, abstraction and the everyday – just for good measure – Drink Me, Taste Me holds something for everyone who is an observer, a dreamer, or a wanderer.
In Elan Bogarín & Jonathan Bogarín’s series, “Furniture that reminds me of Grandma” (2018), memories are transferred into imagery that captures childlike naïveté through compiled vignettes purporting a domestic scene from the artists’ own experience. The artists give childhood a new dimension: formed through the editorial lens of memory, these scenes speak to the inner child in all of us: our memories taking on new forms through the lens of historicization. While domestic scenes in our memories can never capture the full detail of each moment – the smells, textures and sensations we experienced in our youth – the artists are able to encapsulate the overall impression that such moments from childhood leave on our consciousness. Alice in Wonderland is itself written by an adult impressing a childhood experience on a captive audience, and the Bogaríns’ create work in a similar vein, impressing the experience of childhood from an adult perspective and for an adult audience.
Kat Ryals’ works in lenticular print capture a shimmering survey of imagery formed and reformed according to the viewer’s position to the artwork. By their very nature, lenticular prints can never offer one specific truth. They always bend and distort an array of images according to the viewer’s perspective. Offering a shimmering world of perspectives onto an uncertain and frequently distorted truth, Ryals manages to capture a captivating scene that somehow simultaneously feels both otherworldly and organic.
Various works on view either reference “Alice in Wonderland” via theme, recounting tales and passages related to the original tale, or in spirit, by channeling the sense of otherworldly adventure that Alice encounters during her travels. The musical “Painted Alice,” in particular, espouses the feelings of otherworldliness and un-belonging that women artists seeking to establish firm footing for their own art career while inhabiting the shadow of a partner’s success. Drink Me, Taste Me – An Exhibition of Curious Things acts both as narrative and dream sequence: offering an entry point to the woman artist’s experience, or denying a firm narrative by traipsing down a wonderland of nonsensical occurrences. There lies in wait a curious experience for the visitor to the exhibit, something difficult to firmly grasp, perhaps, but something dazzling nonetheless.
Drink Me, Taste Me – An Exhibition of Curious Things is on view at Plaxall Gallery in Long Island City from April 11-May 12, 2019.
Everyone’s coming-of-age story leans on moments of lost innocence. In Delano Dunn‘s exhibition “Phantom Paradise,” on view at Lesley Heller gallery from April 17-May 19, the delicate escapism of childhood – represented in the artist’s allusion to paint by numbers – brings forth themes which emerged during the artist’s childhood when the realities of the Rodney King riots enveloping his Los Angeles neighborhood set in. Dunn, who was thirteen in 1992 when the riots occurred, looks back at the last moments of innocence during this period, dealing with the trenchant subject matter it elicits in this first solo exhibit with Lesley Heller gallery.
Dunn’s masterful mixture of imagery and materiality expresses the nuance of coming of age in an era fraught with racial tensions boiling over. The artist’s own African-American grandfather felt the need to protect his business during the King riots with a shotgun, while Dunn recalls sleeping together on the floor in the family’s living room, huddled together for safety in numbers. The natural and unnatural, reality and fantasy combine in “Phantom Paradise”. The sense of a loss of control is mirrored in the artist’s own use of paint-by-numbers in this series, where this straightforward painting method eschews the usual predictable result due to the arrival of unexpected guests intruding on the narratives on view.
Along with rich, vibrant textures and pointed subject matter, the artist crafts a narrative from disparate, often jarring color combinations. His work, “Make Me Feel Like Paradise,” features a radioactive orange behind a neutral-colored landscape flanked by figures who are apparently in the woods hunting birds – figures who, upon further inspection, turn out to be policemen carrying shotguns. Dunn himself remarks on the unsettling effect of the artwork as a whole. “Maybe it’s the image of this cop with a shotgun emerging from the trees (but) it scares the hell out of me! That’s enough to make (this work) dear to me; It makes me uncomfortable.” The discomfort experienced through a tour of Phantom Paradise occurs alongside moments of great beauty and delicate use of line: there is a discomfort lying in wait here in a paradise that recedes into the background the closer you come to obtaining it for your very own.
The mixed media and collage works on view in “Phantom Paradise” at Lesley Heller gallery repurposes found imagery from the time of the riots, taken from Harper’s Bazaar, alongside seemingly neutral imagery of birds found in nature. Yet are birds free? Do they belong to a world so idyllic? Though they may fly away, Maya Angelou herself knows that the wings of a bird in a cage are clipped. There is great beauty in the bird’s song, yet it is a song of he who is hunted, he who is held captive, he who is not allowed to roam free to find a paradise of his own. The combined result of experiencing “Phantom Paradise” is an understanding of the deep well that binds us together: through imagery, texture, and memory, along with the simultaneous knowledge that the gulf that divides us is so deep that a bridge of listening, understanding, and change is required to be built in order to bring a change to the destructive, all-consuming cycle enveloping us.
“Phantom Paradise” was a solo exhibition of works by Delano Dunn at Lesley Heller gallery, 45 Orchard Street, New York, NY from April 17-May 19, 2019
Spring has arrived, and Frieze New York assumes its annual presentation under the iconic white tent on Randall’s Island. As per usual, Frieze presents an opportunity for galleries to expose their pre-eminent artists to a diverse audience comprised of collectors, institutions, and art enthusiasts alike, who flock from all over the world to attend the five-day event. This year’s fair is host to a distinct collection of galleries displaying impressive rosters of established artists as well as newcomers on the rise. We decided to turn our attention away from spectacle-producing options in order to compile our list of Top Presentations at this year’s iteration, focusing our attention instead on the innovators and risk-takers on view at this year’s fair.
The enigmatic sculptures of Matthew Ronay displayed on pristine white pedestals at the Frieze Casey Kaplan booth entice visitors to take a closer look. Executed in a spectrum of jewel-toned hues, and various mediums and surfaces, the intricate components of Ronay’s medium-sized sculptures transform into living, breathing extraterrestrial fauna. In contrast to Ronay’s previous monochrome environmental installation to give context to the sculptures, this pair down approach allows each sculpture to be considered as an individual unto itself.
A pairing of Tony Marsh’s ceramics vessels and Anoka Faruqee & David Driscoll’s optical captivating paintings marks an ode to the formal qualities of surface, color, and materiality at the Koenig and Clinton presentation. Organic and evocative, the surfaces of Marsh’s thirteen ceramic vessels give the impression of minerals, lichens, mold, calcium deposits and oxidized samples sourced directly from the natural world. While the distinct color combinations and layered patterns of Anoka Faruqee & David Driscoll’s paintings speak to vision, perception, and new technologies. Koenig & Clinton aims to give their fair-going audience an opportunity to indulge in the optically exciting and technically precise works of Marsh, Faruqee, and Driscoll.
Bridget Donahue’s installation is solely dedicated to the work of artist and musician Lisa Alvarado who’s bold tapestry-like paintings, totemic floor objects, and sound installation permeate the space. Before these brightly-colored works are installed upon the white walls of a gallery or fair booth, they first grace the stage serving as backdrops for Alvarado’s band, Natural Information Society. Upon inspecting the rhythmic brushstrokes, tassels, and fringe of Alvarado’s work one slowly becomes aware of a low buzzing noise which soon evolves into a drone, and subsequently a purr. Discrete speakers placed along the parameter of the booth emit ambient sound and alludes to Alvarado’s holistic approach to art making. Alvarado personifies an artist in the process of manifesting her own mythology. By utilizing a compelling mix of image, object, and sound Alvarado creates an experience which invites viewers into her practice, lifestyle, and philosophy.
Hutchinson Modern dedicates their booth to championing the work of Dominican-born, New York-based artist Freddy Rodriguez. A series of eight paintings on canvas, executed since the early 1970’s, works on view shine a light on Rodriguez’s long-spanning career and unwavering practice. Vibrant geometric forms and graphic lines carve up the picture plane and convert each canvas into a balanced compositional code. Founder of Hutchinson Modern, Isabella Hutchinson, enjoys a well-deserved reputation as a trailblazer for Latin American art and has made a career privately advising and expanding the contemporary market for works such as Rodriguez’s.
Galerie Lelong’s bifurcated booth boasts the breadth of their artist roster and offers fair-goes two flavors of contemporary art. Vibrant and playful meets socially poignant as Sarah Cain’s chromatic paintings are displayed parallel to a collection of work by Alfredo Jaar, Barthélémy Toguo, and Ana Mendieta. Perhaps conscious of the fair’s draw, Galerie Lelong & Co. cast a wide net ensuring there is something which will appeal to a wide spectrum of sensibilities. The dichotomous nature of the booth allows Cain’s experimental paintings and Jaar’s neon text, Toguo’s sculpture, and Mendieta’s photographs to effectively contrast yet highlight one another.
Half Gallery’s booth exhibits the imaginative and impactful work of Vaughn Spann, whose five large-scale paintings on canvas commandeer the space and represent Spann’s preoccupation with emblematic imagery. At first, the collection of paintings appear to created by two different artists. Two uncanny oil paintings represent portraits of women, while three abstract paintings of pictographic symbols, “X”s and rainbows are presented side-by-side. These disparate approaches to image-making are in actuality couched within the same conceptual impetus. Spann, who graduated from Yale in 2018, aims to describe the African-American experience by creating images that are politically inspired, with references to social codes. This selection of work emphasizes Spann’s ability to seize current events and historical precedent as relevant subject matter in order to produce paintings that are timely cultural and sociopolitical observations.
Diedrick Bracken’s textiles on view at the Various Small Fires booth address notable trailblazers of lore, and hearken to the true identity of the iconic American Cowboy. This body of work expresses the idealization of the American “wild West” during the late 19th century, post-Civil War era, wherein the profession of cowhand was one of few paid professions available to African-Americans. Utilizing a system of woven algorithms, Bracken generates a series of double-sided textiles that incorporate his silhouetted body merging and interacting with that of a mustang, posed in mid-stride. Bracken employs these icons in order to investigate stereotypes, tradition, and veiled histories through the manipulated woven surfaces of his textiles.
Fauna of Mirrors, a site-responsive exhibition curated by Etty Yaniv currently on view at the LIU Downtown Brooklyn campus, opened to the public on March 14, 2019 and remains on view through May 17th. The enticing exhibition features works by Charlotte Becket, Samuelle Green, Tamara Kostianovsky, Jessica Lagunas, Christina Massey, Lina Puerta, and Kathleen Vance. These works are housed in a glass enclosure on the LIU campus. Referencing Jorge Luis Borges’ Book of Imaginary Beings, this contemporary Fauna of Mirrors refers to Borges’ proposed “land beyond mirrors” which hosts strange, unknown creatures, a phantasmagoria which is reflected in the incredible images aggregated through illusionary reflections spilling across the glass surfaces.
Multi-dimensional reflections on the Anthropocene and humanity’s relationship with nature provide real-time reflections in the changing daylight onsite at Fauna of Mirrors. A triumph in adapting the Japanese viewing garden’s prized technique of miegakure (“hide and reveal”), the exhibit creates dialogues across the space lying between the various installations, sculptures and kinetic artworks on view. A pulsing, breathing form in its own right, Fauna of Mirrors creates a visual orchestral crescendo at Long Island University’s downtown Brooklyn campus. Readily experienced, yet cordoned off from the public, the forms create an artistic menagerie that creates a lingering impression – whether you gaze upon it for five seconds or five hours something new is revealed with every visit. Emphasizing both the verticality and the rounded curvature of this specific space, Fauna of Mirrors combines works by compelling contemporary artists into a lush representation of the interstices linking nature and artifice.
Suspended sculptures by Tamara Kostianovsky welcome visitors to the exhibit while alluding to sacrifice and consumption. Meat hooks hold up splayed, feathered creatures resembling dead birds – which upon further inspection, are actually created from a composite of different fabrics. Kostianovksy captures the poetic grace of these forms, recreating the exact curve of each bird feather with care and immaculate attention to detail. The figures are artificial recreations of natural forms, exacting the toll that our civilization can exact on our avian brethren.
Just beyond this sobering installation, the exhibit unfolds in its entirety before the viewer. Works are discernible by Charlotte Becket, Samuelle Green, Kathleen Vance, Christina Massey, and Lina Puerta. Immediately following the line of sight around the left curvature of the gallery, Lina Puerta’s artwork is a visible juxtaposition of sign and signifier. Puerta evinces her contemplative skill with metal built over a period of time as a Kohler artist in residence. The impressions of natural objects are visible in pieces of iron, carefully arranged around what appears to be a tree branch, but is actually a branch cast in iron itself. Puerta notes the combination of ephemeral and eternal provided inspiration for her work “Untitled” (branch on tiles)(2015). “During a 2015 residency at Kohler, in their factory’s foundry, I had the great opportunity to create iron casts of about anything I wanted,” reflects Puerta. “The Large branch is a cast of an actual fallen branch that had begun to rot, found near the house were I stayed during the residency (Sheboygan, WI). I loved the idea of suspending in time something so fragile, that was dead, yet actively in transformation, as it decomposed. I was excited to cast such a delicate, life and death process into a strong, almost unbreakable material, as iron.”
Visible just beyond Puerta’s work is Kathleen Vance’s “Displaced Riverbed” (2019). A suspended riverbed in miniature, the man-made and natural collide in Vance’s artistic vision. “In order to simulate the natural, I use materials as close in texture and color as would be found in nature, often mixing natural with artificial materials to generate a feel of the “real”. In this piece, I have sculpted the riverbed and incorporated collected soil and detritus from forest walks. This piece is meant to be perceived as a riverbed scooped out of a natural environment, suspended in time and space.”
“I would like for visitors to consider their personal environment and seek out local access points to nature, such as parks and nature preserves,” reflects Vance. “In presenting a single section of a river, removed from its course, I am giving just a piece that cannot function without its whole. To experience that, you must go to the source.” Poignant and captivating in its attention to detail and alluring materiality, Vance represents our captivation with the aesthetics of the natural world.
Samuelle Green’s “Bloom 1″(2019) encircles a pillar anchoring the space, rising up around this building feature like a bush in bloom or a colony of mushrooms. Green takes into consideration the various viewpoints of the built environment, subversively reclaiming aspects of the man-made back into the natural environment. Carefully responding to the curvature of the space, Green dexterously re-purposes found paper to craft her intricate, geometrical compositions, her installation leading into a small cluster of mixed media sculptures by artist Christina Massey.
Massey’s assorted sculptures combine textures in her works, juxtaposing glass and metal in sharp angles and elusive curves. “I love having multiple complex textures and materials in a piece, there’s a challenge there that I love so much in the artistic process so make these seemingly odd materials work together.” Massey continues to expand particularly on her use of glass, an ancient process capturing various elements of nature into a refined practice spanning centuries of artistic creation. “This particular work was funded in part by a grant from the Brooklyn Arts Fund that was specifically granted for me to pursue creating new work using experimental glass blowing techniques, so each piece has some glass in it along with a combination of metals, wire, fencing and paint.” In addition to this rapt attention to form, Massey also created an installation built of carefully conceived forms ready to display across the verticality of the space. “This is such a unique space, so you had to think about not only what the options for hanging work were…but the proximity to the glass and columns, too. For me, the work is modular which allowed me a little room to play once in the space and react to how other work was installed.”
Absorbing light in a dark silhouette shifting through space and whirring ominously, Charlotte Becket’s “La Mancha Negra 4″(2019) follows a peculiar choreography, shifting around the gallery floor. Formed of various industrial materials, Becket’s kinetic sculpture confounds the viewer. Unsettling yet awe-inspiring, the sheer scale of the sculpture absorbs the visitor’s fully attention. Encountering Becket’s barely-defined form as it lurks and pushes through its immediate environment, the internal logic of the figure remains a captivating mystery. The parallels between this menacing figure’s indiscernible actions and our own inane choices to continue with environmental destruction are only hinted at as the viewer is encouraged to relate to the figure and the environment, and our choices in relation to it, on their own terms.
Finally, near the entryway to the building itself lie detailed, tactile pieces by Jessica Lagunas and Lina Puerta. Mementos of our natural world, leaves form delicate books and canvases for words and markings that prove to be enticing to the touch. Protected in these enclosed vitrines, Lagunas’ poetic ability to capture the lyrical beauty of natural outlines of leaves and other ephemera displays an intimacy with these fragile natural materials that proves to be both captivating and immensely rewarding for the viewer. Juxtaposed against the enduring iron impressions of natural objects by Puerta displayed in the same cases, the overall effect is a reminder of the beauty and frailty of our natural environment.
The poetry of Yaniv’s powerfully curated Fauna of Mirrors proves to be an elegiac, yet lively, living documentation of the underlying forces that both unite and divide us as a species from the Earth that both sustains us and relies on our decisions. A reckoning displayed in a carefully defined space, this alternate view of the world we create and the natural ephemera we observe proves to be a whimsical mirror that holds lessons for us all.
On view through April 7, 2019 at Plaxall Gallery, Inside/Outside documents the struggle that artists enduring mental illness experience every day. From displaying a fragmented sense of self to simplifying the figure down to a minimalist aesthetic, many works on view in the exhibit pay homage to the mind’s sense of self and the existing relationship between the mind and the body. Including artists such as Corran Shrimpton, Ella Veres, Nandan He, Angela Roger and many more, the works on view draw from the rich tapestry present in both the nearby Fountain House gallery community of artists and the Flushing Interfaith Council to produce an intersectional and urgent conversation around the effects of mental health on the artist community in NYC and beyond.
On Thursday, April 4th, Fountain House Gallery in partnership with Plaxall Gallery will present a panel discussion around topics related to mental illness that are present in the exhibition. The Panel takes place from 5:30-7 pm at the Gallery space, is free and open to the public, and will feature artists Evan Brown, Wilfredo Benitez, Gina Minielli, Sharon Taylor and Maura Terese in conversation with curator Nancy Bruno and Ariel Willmott, Director at Fountain House Gallery. Fountain House Gallery Director Ariel Willmott notes the importance of featuring artwork in conversation around mental illness as crucial both to the wider community and for her personally. “The urgency and need for breaking the stigma around mental illness has become very clear to me and I believe that artists through their art and voice play an important role in achieving this,” she reveals.
Visions of self and a sense of longing and alienation permeate works throughout the gallery space. Shrimpton’s iconic sculpture depicts a female figure seemingly comprised of bricks that evokes a sense of constructed identity: while some of possess a firm understanding of who we are, those burdened with mental illness can shift in their relationship to self every single day. A self-understanding seemingly constructed from sturdy bricks one day can feel unstable and flimsy the next, depending on one’s mental health state.
Many of the paintings, sculptures and mixed media works on view reflect on partial, obscured and/or alternate views of one’s self. Identity becomes shrouded in a filter according to one’s daily physical and mental chemistry, according to prescriptions taken and not taken, mood or hormonal shifts. Many of the works on view are created by women, echoing societal pressures prevalent on how women and their figures are viewed in a highly critical society as opposed to the lack of critical attention paid to their male counterparts. It is important to remember, however, that mental health issues can affect everyone regardless of race, gender, religion, socioeconomic status or age.
Artworks on view grapple with a wide range of topics, which are treated with a delicate, insightful nuance. Visitors are encouraged to aspire to a sense of empathy around mental illness. Perusing artworks on view in the space, guests can better gain perspectives around the challenges these artists confront every day in creating artwork, interacting with others, and searching their own sense of self. Introspection and admiration are encouraged at this profound, moving exhibition that deconstructs the building blocks of identity through a stunning array of artistic practices.
Inside/Outside is on view at Plaxall Gallery through April 7th, 2019. The gallery is located at 5-24 46th Avenue in Long Island City, Queens, and visiting hours are Thursday, 6-10 pm & Saturdays/Sundays, 12-5 pm. Don’t miss your last chance to witness this compelling contemporary view into the minds of artists working around mental health topics.