Concern with Climate Change and how it impinges on our planet links the five artists featured in the impressive sculpture show at David&Schweitzer. Running the gamut from minimalist to narrative sensibilities and from found objects to fabricated materials, the sculptures created by Ruth Hardinger, Babs Reingold, Rebecca Smith, Kelin Perry, and Christy Rupp, engage the space in juxtaposition to one another – visually situating the overall exhibition at the intersection of natural history and archaeological excavation, thematically layered and at times poetic. The artworks in the show refer to the underground, trees, atmosphere, underwater, and animals- each of the individual parts that is essential for life on Earth.
As you enter the space you see on the right Ruth Hardinger’s majestic wall to floor piece, “Earth and My New York Rocks”, made of earth, graphite, shale rocks, tape and pushpins holding up milk cartons on the wall, and then spilling downwards on the floor. Altogether the rich earth tones from ashen to golden-brown, diverse textures from smooth to rough surfaces, weight from light to heavy, and the inherent history of her materials, create both a sense of an excavated ancient shrine and an organic form – uncategorized, shifting, disorienting, raw.
Hardinger says that she found these shale rocks in Upstate NY, where they have been used by farmers for fencing starting from the1800s. Hardinger’s fascination with rocks started when she lived in Mexico. Drawing upon the Maya notion of the underground, she started to explore the idea of underworld in anthropological, historical, and geological contexts – fascinated by the relationships between the landscapes of the underworld and upper-world. Her on-going dialogues with scientists who research the microbial life in Earth’s deep sub-surface, or man-made processes such as hydro-fracking, continuously inform her work.
“The Last Tree: Squared”, Babs Reingold’s sprawling sculptural floor installation invites the viewer to decipher her associative visual logic, like an open-ended puzzle with multiple possibilities, a poem, or an unfamiliar landscape. The installation consists of four rusted steel frames in a row, with sculptural objects in between – a flat cast wax animal, a fabricated tree stump spilling from a steel pail, an actual tree stump, and a rusted chain link. The last frame holds a large drawing of tree roots on silk organza, leading to what appears to be a duplicate drawing mounted on the wall behind it. Formally and thematically each object links to the next, inviting the viewer to take part in Reingold’s imaginative excursion, which is begging the question: “When do we recognize and act?”
Adjacent to Reingold’s horizontal installation, Rebecca Smith’s tall linear sculpture titled “Big Reuse”, echoes both Hardinger’s verticality and Reingold’s linearity. The dark steel rods mounted on a wooden platform with a smooth black surface are peppered with small fragments of red, green and white bursts of color, altogether soaring upwards in reference to the atmosphere, resonating an abstract dimensional painting with an intrinsic geometric logic of its own.
Kelin Perry’s “Coelacanth” across the room, a colossal sculpture made of wire and found plastic resonates a biomorphic form. Changing form from each angle, viewed from the side it resembles an extinct species made of refuse, and from the front it resembles a wide open mouth revealing a complex vortex of wiry forms. They made me think simultaneously of the Cern collider, temporality and cyclical time. The plastic black and white remnants sway lightly as you pass by and make this monstrous fossil very much alive.
From here the exhibition leads to the Project Room, where Christy Rupp’s wiry forms depict animal skeletons. Made of welded steel wires embedded with mixed media such as green credit cards or credit solicitations, Rupp’s installation is the most narrative of the group and creates a lovely surprise in this viewing journey from the underground upward.
Do not miss additional work at the other David&Schwitzer gallery space across the hall.
Artists: Ruth Hardinger, Babs Reingold, Rebecca Smith, Kelin Perry, Christy Rupp
Opening Reception: Friday, February 2nd, 6pm-9pm
Panel Discussion: February 25th at 3PM (moderated by Eleanor Heartney)