Fauna of Mirrors Reflects a Nuanced Approach to Nature

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.

Installation view, Fauna of Mirrors at Long Island University’s downtown Brooklyn campus (image courtesy Etty Yaniv)

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.

Sculptures by Tamara Kostianovsky in Fauna of Mirrors (image courtesy Etty Yaniv)

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.”

Side view, Fauna of Mirrors (image courtesy Etty Yaniv)

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.

Works by Jessica Lagunas for Fauna of Mirrors (image courtesy the author)

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.

Bold Tones Define “Self Alive” at The Yard South Williamsburg

“To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom.” 

In an era of dissonance, “Self Alive” brings the wisdom of self-awareness to bear, playing witness to a whirlwind of textures and hues. Featuring the work of artists Katie Hector, Tomo Mori and Jean Rim,
“Self Alive” remains on view through Spring 2019 at The Yard, South Williamsburg. Drawing from themes of self-expression, “Self Alive” explores the beauty we can bring into the world through our relationships with those around us as expressed in a variety of artistic mediums. The exhibit is curated by Deborah Oster Pannell, curator at The Yard South Williamsburg, whose curatorial perspective is informed by decades of experience as a writer, editor, performer, director and producer. She has curated and performed at KGB Bar, Animamus Art Salon, Shag, Green Oasis Community Garden, Chinatown Soup, The Red Room at KGB, UNDER St. Marks Theater and JCC Harlem. Pannell currently works at C24 gallery in Chelsea, Manhattan.

“Nexus”, Tomo Mori for The Yard’s “Self Alive”

Artist Jean Rim connects disparate aspects of her Korean-American identity through her practice. She draws links to different layers of her identity with intricate patterns of shimmering, geometric compositions. A graduate of Parsons School of Design, Rim currently works in Brooklyn, NY and exhibits in South Korea and the United States. Her vibrant juxtaposition of line and color form exuberant compositions accessible to everyone, regardless of cultural background. These bright, rhythmic abstractions speak in a universal language that both astonishes and delights.

The diverse works of Tomo Mori reveal a thoughtful and labor-intensive process. Sculptural forms emerge from accumulations of discarded clothing, making reference to her labor as an artist and a mother. Hailing from Osaka, Japan, Mori studied both Western and Japanese traditional painting and drawing. Her rope installation works make explicit the important links connecting us all as human beings, across cultures, countries and social constructs.

Katie Hector, “FOMO Banner II” at “Self Alive” at The Yard

 

Katie Hector‘s work explores the inherent anxiety of modern-day life in her “FOMO” series, on view in part in “Self Alive”. An artist, curator and writer, Hector is also Founder and Co-Director of Sine Gallery. Based in New York, she received her BFA from the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University and has participated in numerous international exhibitions and received numerous scholarships and accolades. The “FOMO” series as a whole is based around abstracted ovals, which could reference eyes or vision. In a world in which vision is constantly facing distraction and disassociation, the self can feel distant or insecure. Hector’s abstractions aggregate multiple layers of color and painterly gesture, hinting at the social anxiety and chaos that engulfs us all.

Rooted in the search for a higher self-awareness, the meditative and enticing artworks on view in “Self Alive”  reveal a survey of contemporary color and material palettes. An incisive look into unique artists’ practices, they also comprehensively reveal a society fearlessly searching for truth in every direction.

“Self Alive” is on view through May 4, 2019 at The Yard, South Williamsburg.

 

I C O N I C: Judy Rifka’s Ionic Ironic at CORE Club through March 29th

The art world is above about the current exhibition on view at the CORE Club New York: iconic American artist Judy Rifka. A legendary member of the Lower East Side arts scene in New York City, Rifka has worked across painting and video, and this current exhibition, Ionic Ironic: Myths from the 80’s, is curated by LatchKey Gallery and features at the CORE Club now through March 29, 2019.

A seasoned artist whose earlier work featured in the memorable 1980 Times Square Show, two Whitney Museum Biennials (1975, 1983), and Documenta 7, Rifka’s approach mounts a fearless examination of everything from painting to new media, figuration to geometric abstraction. Featured in publications ranging from Artforum to the New York Times, Rifka’s work has recently received renewed attention from the art world. For Ionic Ironic: Myths from the 80’s, the artist displays works that haven’t been on view to the public since a 1988 exhibit at Brooke Alexander Gallery. Rifka’s knowledge of art history is on display in these eclectic, graphic works. Pastiched, remixed motifs ranging from classical antiquity to mid-century minimalism appear through Rifka’s History of Sculpture series – including these works on view at CORE Club.

Rifka exudes a keen grasp of line in her carefully constructed compositions. Negative space flanks sparse, emphatic, painterly lines delineating the figure. This creates a dissonance: figures feel lost from themselves, flanking the canvas but demarcated yet hidden simultaneously. Vaguely reminiscent of established graphic works such as the Matisse Cut-Outs, Rifka’s energetic lines and muted tones combine to exuberant effect in these thoroughly contemporary-feeling artworks.

Hierarchies dissolve across the picture plane in Ionic Ironic: Myths from the 80’swith shapes colliding and ricocheting across the canvas. Iconographies dissolve into mythic status with recurring motifs and shapes juxtaposing against flat swaths of color in methods recalling De Stijl legend Piet Mondrian’s Broadway Boogie. Rhythm and line jostle for the viewer’s attention, creating a complex yet ultimately rewarding composition. Rifka’s works seduce, beguiling visitors over time – multiple viewings continue to reward the viewer with something previously undiscovered. Somehow both complex yet reassuringly straightforward, works by Judy Rifka evade easy categorization.

 

 

A contemporary of art world luminaries such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Rifka remains ahead of her time in her keen, insightful approach to artmaking. Unafraid of juxtaposition and provocation, the artist continues to innovate as she continues working in a multi-disciplinary style in her artistic practice. Most recently treated to a retrospective of her long-spanning practice at the Jean-Paul Najar Foundation in Dubai, Rifka continues to mount more visible exhibitions of her work. The art world continues to delight in rediscovering her work, as her dedication to probing the boundaries of possibility across figure and line result in artwork so fresh and vibrant that it seems to belong to the future.

For more information on the exhibition, visit here. Ionic Ironic: Myths from the 80’s is open to the public by request: please contact info@latchkeygallery.com.

The Thrill of Trill Matrix at The Abrazo Interno Gallery, Clemente Soto Vélez Center

Occasionally an art exhibit meets a space perfectly suited to its concept;  this is happily the case with Trill Matrixon view through Jan 19th at the Abrazo Interno Gallery, Clemente Soto Vélez Center. Trill Matrix, conceived as a site-specific exhibit for the Center, is curated by artist Elizabeth Riley and features works by contemporary artists Nancy Baker, Jaynie Crimmins, Christina Massey, Elizabeth Riley, Christine Romanell, Linda K. Schmidt and Etty Yaniv. These artists frequently exhibit collectively: while each is firmly rooted in their own unique artistic practice, their dialogues and discussion form interstices linking the works on view in Trill Matrix. Showcasing a blend of sculpture, mixed media, and installation works, Trill Matrix showcases ways in which contemporary art can tease our senses. From texture to color, volume to light, Trill Matrix teases aspects of reality into new, uncharted territory for all who visit. On view at the The Abrazo Interno Gallery (107 Suffolk Street) through January 19, make sure to visit during the show’s final days – if you can, catch the closing party on Sat, 1/19! Free and open to the public – come and celebrate art while also celebrating the network of women artists behind the works, a perfect way to close out the Women’s March events in NYC!

 

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Christina Massey, “Crafty Collusion 2” on view in Trill Matrix.

 

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Elizabeth Riley, “Prototype 2 – Canopy” on view in Trill Matrix.

In Trill Matrix, “trill” alludes to a moment in hip-hop culture where the words “true” and “real” blended together to suggest authenticity and cultural ascendancy. Playing off this idea of reconciling two distinct words, artists on view in the exhibit remix disparate mediums to form new hybrids. Strips of fabric gathered together form a soft-sculpture-turned-light-installation, while works composed of glass and aluminum fragments hold court with another work re-claiming electronic wires and plastic into a single immersive sculpture. The network these works forms invites closer inspection, often bringing the visitor to realize a greater understanding of the beauty that lies in waste.

Christina Massey is one of the exhibiting artists whose works present the meeting point of upcycled materials and careful composition. The artist’s Crafty Collusions series brings together fragments from upcycled craft beer cans with a blend of other materials, cleverly juxtaposing the male-dominated industry of craft beer with the “femininity” of crafting. Massey reflected on the work involved in bridging the gaps while making mixed media artworks. “The materials in themselves bring certain complications, where one material doesn’t easily adhere to another,” noted Massey. “A certain amount of experimentation has to be done to find the right glues, mixture of paint, thickness of thread, etc., but I love that experimentation, that’s where you discover new things that maybe you didn’t realize were a possibility. That can be very freeing…  just allowing yourself to manipulate, play and learn, admitting that the material is going to have a certain mind of its own.”

Elizabeth Riley‘s artwork, “Prototype 2 – Canopy”, slows down new media by imprinting video stills onto paper and fusing these frozen scenes with aluminum, paint and duralar, a form of acetate. Fusing different modes of representation and interpretation, Riley questions our subjective experience of reality – whether through new means of looking and questioning or by forcing the viewer to re-think what they are observing in her mixed-media works.

Artist Jaynie Crimmins similarly plays with both ideas around reality depicted through material and notions attached to craft. The artist shreds promotional mail she receives – catalogs, flyers, etc – into minute pieces that she then re-arranges into abstract geometric compositions. Reminiscent of the cardinal directions and visually capturing a format found in the most ancient cultures, Crimmins compiles works with muted color tones and fantastic textures to witness that one woman’s trash can become the world’s treasure.

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Jaynie Crimmins, “A Field Guide to Getting Lost#7” on view in Trill Matrix.
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Linda K. Schmidt, “Panels 50+51+52+53” on view in Trill Matrix.

Linda K. Schmidt‘s work embodies another style of geometric abstraction, with strips of semi-sheer fabrics in block colors meticulously arranged to form striped patterns. Evoking stained glass windows or dress-making patterns, Schmidt brings color field painting and craft together in one transcendental visual form. Suspended from the floor, larger than life size, these installations induce a sense of wonder in visitors encountering her installations at Trill Matrix.

Works by Nancy Baker display a skillful assimilation of sublimation into striking visual compositions. Recalling networks of neurons, or perhaps a private eye’s visuals connecting elements of an investigation,  Baker’s installation for Trill Matrix ventures as many layers deep as the visitor is willing to explore. A New Yorker by birth, Baker also plays off the idea of linked infrastructure such as that found in the NYC subway; yet, her compositions incorporate found language indicating our current social anxiety and uncertainty.

 

Nancy Baker, “Shredded Cold Victory” (detail image), on view in Trill Matrix.
Christine Romanell, “Dah Noqte” on view in Trill Matrix.

Artist Etty Yaniv plays with color and texture to reference abstracted nature through sublimely arranging upcycled materials into organic, yet repetitive, patterns. Blending networks of cords and cables into fragments of materials from discarded paintings and used plastic, Yaniv draws out the inherent beauty of detritus. Her work plays with notions related to unity and disparity, tracing harmony and dissonance through her playful use of scale and masterful composition.

Christine Romanell‘s work brings mathematical formulae and data analysis into the visual arts sphere. Applying color to patterns derived through mathematical equations, yet identifying where math also traverses organic and non-repetitive functions, Romanell’s installations make visual the corners of rationale and analysis where making sense begins to break down: with beautiful results.

Don’t miss the final days of Trill Matrix! Make sure to witness for yourself this stunning survey of the possibilities present within a mindful collection of connected yet disparate mixed media artistic practices.