Questions of Scale: Leah Harper’s “Mitosis” A Triumph at Yi Gallery

A visitor can be forgiven for entering Yi Gallery’s current exhibition, “Mitosis“, and wondering whether they’ve been shrunken down into an aesthetically pleasing science lab.

All that’s missing is the petri dish.

This solo show of works by Leah Harper indicates the scope and breadth of the artist’s multi-disciplinary practice in dialogue with the lived environment, particularly with regards to marine life.

“Colony 7” (2021) Glazed Porcelain, by Leah Harper for “Mitosis”.
Image courtesy Yi Gallery.

The abstracted “creatures” that the artist presents assume migratory patterns, frozen in a form of arrested motion. By foregrounding the objects themselves, one is compelled to think to a larger scale – that of the ocean itself. With light-filled sculptures installed in clusters on the floor of the gallery, minute azure-hued clusters of works arranged in meticulous sculptural groupings on one consolidated wall, and one-dimensional representations of these same minuscule “creatures” framed throughout the gallery space, guests are reminded to consider the scale of environments they encounter.

Another consideration is the fragility embodied by the range of “creatures” the artist has created for the exhibition. Whether embracing glazed porcelain, mixed media with resin or working on paper, the works Harper presents in “Mitosis” exude an element of precarity and preciousness. The flattened lines and graceful curves of Harper’s forms give visitors a tabula rasa from which to frame personal reflections on their own encounters with the ocean and its fragile ecosystems, such as coral reefs. These careful and clean linear stylings present in “Mitosis” are no accident, and their careful precision offer an homage to the delicate and overwhelming beauty found in nature’s presence.

Installation view of “Mitosis” at Yi Gallery, courtesy the gallery.

Originally from the Gulf Coast of Florida and currently based in close proximity to the Atlantic in New York City, Harper’s work provides a delicately beautiful elegy to the oceanic environments we are ever compelled to preserve, or risk losing forever. Drawing from a rich background spanning fine art, architecture and graphic design, Harper’s perceptive work echoes Heidegger’s concept of the essence of artwork as a means of access to better explore truth and culture. “Mitosis” serves as a springboard to better frame the truth of our lived environments, our responsibilities to them and our ability to perceive the beauty of the living creatures around us in their purest form.

“Mitosis” is on view at Yi Gallery through May 16, 2021, with visiting hours this Saturday, May 15th from 2-6 PM and other times by appointment only: https://calendly.com/yigallery/private-viewing?month=2021-05 .

Kind of Green Gestures Toward Solving the Climate Emergency

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.

Si Jie Loo, “Privilege of Taste” courtesy of Yi Gallery

 

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.

Jamie Martinez, “VR Unity Global Warming” Courtesy of Yi Gallery

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.