In conversation with Hannah Barrett and Saul Chernick
The Grotto: Shrine group exhibition at Soloway Gallery, curated by Hannah Barrett and Saul Chernick, featuring works by Orli Swergold, Laurel Sparks, Ben Pederson, and Saul Chernick, merges the physical with the mystical. It showcases sculptures and installations that draw on the use of scale and a diverse range of materials—obsolete electronics, dried grains, paper pulp, and glitter. These elements serve to connect viewers to celestial, underworld, ritualistic, and imaginative realms, referencing the reflective and immersive qualities of shrines and grottos.
Founded in 1986 by artists, activists, and community members, Socrates Sculpture Park transformed an abandoned landfill into a cultural cornerstone in Queens, New York. This dual-purpose venue serves both as a public park and an exhibition space for contemporary art, targeting early- and mid-career artists. Occupying five waterfront acres, Socrates provides a unique platform for artistic expression and public engagement, offering free access to a civic space amidst the urban environment.
In the heart of Sunset Park, within the historic Brooklyn Army Terminal, BioBAT Art Space stands as a pioneering gallery that blurs the lines between art and science. The current exhibition, Embodied Futures & the Ecology of Care, Curated by Elena Soterakis & Eve Barro, showcases eleven artists whose work merges research methods and materials from scientific practices such as genetics, mycology, microscopy, and bacterial cultivation with artistic creation. By using living yeast as their palette and mushrooms as their sculpting medium, these artists challenge conventional artistic norms.
New Zealand-based painter Laura Williams began her artistic journey twelve years ago in her late 40s, following significant personal upheaval and loss. Turning to art as a means of coping, she replaced alcohol consumption with creativity, using her work to express and manage her anxiety and depression. Diagnosed with ADHD and Asperger’s, Williams found clarity in her penchant for patterns and symbols, which she employs as a unique language in her paintings. Her work, extensively exhibited across New Zealand and Sydney, Australia, is marked by its distinct yet universally resonant themes. The figures in her art, often women alongside men, clothed or unclothed, convey a sense of isolation despite their physical proximity. The dense and intricate patterns combined with vivid colors create an intensely claustrophobic space vibrating with charged psychological tensions.
Flower petals gradually became a significant element in Valérie Hallier’s artwork. Fascinated by the profound symbolism of flowers, Hallier initially struggled to incorporate them effectively into her artistic practice. Her initial approach involved photographing flowers in unique ways and settings. She also experimented with their dried components, adhering them to various surfaces. Eventually, she began to focus on pressing individual petals. Hallier discovered that working with petals was ideal for conveying complex themes such as femininity, resilience, sexuality, vibrancy, and decay. Born in Paris, France, and raised in Normandy, Hallier had a shy nature as a child. She was consumed with the ambition to draw everything in existence, a desire for comprehensiveness that continues to influence her work. Art, for her, has always been an essential means of engaging with both her internal and external worlds. Reflecting on her early art education, Hallier fondly remembers her excitement upon meeting others who shared her artistic ‘language.’
Susan Hoffman Fishman and Leslie Sobel met in 2019 at a virtual “mixer” sponsored by SciArt Initiative for artists and scientists who either were already working together or who wanted to work together collaboratively. Hoffman and Sobel quickly determined that their mutual interests in water and the climate crisis overlapped. Looking for ways to collaborate, they applied for and were awarded a joint residency in 2021 during the height of the COVID pandemic at Planet Labs, a global satellite imaging company based in San Francisco. Planet had created its residency program to see what happened when artists were given access to their scientists and satellite resources. Because of COVID, the three-month residency ended up being entirely virtual.
Sharon Horvath’s paintings in Small Myriad, her current exhibition at Bookstein Projects, create a sense of an alluring universe where dazzling colors, interflowing shapes, and tactile surfaces merge, meander, and as a group form an enigmatic universe unified by a mysterious code. Horvath’s spiraling lines and patterned forms create ebbing and flowing movements echoing Theodor Schwenk’s anthroposophical approach to the unifying principle of all movement and form. In his book Sensitive Chaos: The Creation of Flowing Forms in Water and Air, Schwenk posits that water movements reveal fundamental, archetypal patterns in natural and human-made environments. This deeper order finds resonance in Horvath’s paintings, but simultaneously, her imagery and use of collage also lean toward the enigmatic, paradoxical, and absurd.
Even Greater Days: Rapper’s Deluxe: How Hip Hop Made the World
In the latter third of Dr. Todd Boyd’s highly anticipated new tome Rapper’s Deluxe is a “A Great Day in Hip Hop,” a subsection of a chapter called “It Was All a Dream: The 1990s,” which covers a broad range of shifts and trends in and around hip hop culture over the course of a decade that many longtime fans of rap music consider, for various reasons, the genre’s golden era.
“An eyewitness described Edvard Munch supervising the print of a colour lithograph in 1896. He stood in front of the stones on which the head of a masterpiece was drawn. He then closed his eyes tightly, stabbed the air with his finger, and gave his instructions. ‘Print… grey, green, blue, brown.’ Then he opened his eyes and remarked, ‘Now it’s time for a glass of schnapps.’ The whole performance, including the air of melodrama and that shot of spirits, was highly characteristic.”
Peel (America), a new series by Hedwig Brouckaert, which was supported by a Cafe Royal Cultural Foundation Grant, embodies a significant evolution of her practice that integrates life-defining experiences. The title suggests removing a protective coating which is integral to the artist’s physical process and emotional journey of making the work. Peel (America) is on view at Project: ARTspace, 99 Madison Avenue, New York, NY, from December 19, 2023 to February 20, 2024.