David Samuel Stern: Does a portrait need a subject?

Stern positioning two fabric-wrapped models during a shoot in Chelsea in 2022. Photo by Jaymye Thomas

In 2018, I interviewed David Samuel Stern about his process of creating woven photographic portraits. In these portraits, he interlaced photographs into intricate, tactile artworks, emphasizing the medium’s tangible qualities. Stern has been relentlessly exploring what it means to portray through photography and the medium’s place as a recorder of time and nature. Since our initial interview, he has produced captivating new work. Here, we survey his evolution over the last six years and his current work.

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Jeanne Ciravolo – the resistance in making do

In Dialogue
A person standing in front of a wall with paintings

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Residency at the Anderson Center, 2019, Red Wing, MN

In her mixed-media work, Jeanne Ciravolo integrates collage, print, and stitching, materializing the stories of her female relatives—their stories of loss and hope. The female figures often reference representation of women in art history, such as medieval carvings or paintings from the Renaissance. The figure imagery is based on Ciravolo’s sketches, figure drawings, photos from newspapers and magazines, or photos she took.

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Peggy Cyphers: Passages at The Front Room 

Featured exhibition
A painting of a mountain range

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Peggy Cyphers “Floating Passage” (2012-6) acrylic, sand, leafing on canvas 54”x50”

Peggy Cyphers’ exhibition at The Front Room Gallery in Hudson, titled Passages, integrates disparate painting traditions into abstract landscapes. The technique—fluid brush strokes combined with sand and paint pour—draws from Chinese landscape art, Native American traditions, and Postwar Abstraction. These paintings suggest the natural world’s fragility, mystery, and grandeur, recalling the upward gaze from the base of a canyon.

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This Bitter Earth: Deborah Wasserman at Kuma Lisa

Photo Story
Deborah Wasserman, Rubble, 2021, ink and acrylic on paper, 28″ x35.5″

Rubble, mutated crop fields, floods, scorched earth, and occasional female figures floating or submerged unfold throughout the sixteen landscape paintings in Deborah Wasserman’s current solo show, The Bitter Earth at Kuma Lisa. Though the paintings differ in scale and media—from small acrylic and oil on panels to larger acrylic, oil, and stained clothes on canvas to medium-sized works on paper—they all share the sense of a world where multiple perspectives from different vantage points co-exist. Wasserman’s energetic strokes and searching lines create a rhythmic movement upward, downward, and sideways—reminiscent of the fluidity in Chinese and Japanese calligraphic scroll paintings and the clear, directional lines of a hand-drawn map. These linear dynamos intertwine with a palette of earthy tones, greens, yellows, oranges, blues, reds, and pure blacks, creating multiple vignettes within a layered landscape.

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Eccentric Abstraction at MoCA L.I.

Photo story
A group of art pieces in a room

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Installation view

John Cino, curator of Eccentric Abstraction at MoCA L.I, first encountered the works of Eva Hesse, Jackie Winsor, and Linda Benglis during his undergraduate years, an experience that deeply influenced him. He draws a throughline from their pioneering works to the current exhibition, “For each of the artists in the show—Stephanie Beck, Sky Kim, Christina Massey, and Sui Park—the process of making is a visible element of the work, and the forms they create are evocative with minimal narrative, Cino explains.

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Judy Hoffman: Evolvers and Wildtypes at Sculpture Space

Hot Air

A person standing next to a sculpture

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The artist with Big Yellow, 18″ x 11″ x 7.5”; ceramic; 2017. Photo Credit: Linda Cunningham

Ten years ago, Judy Hoffman became enthralled with clay and hand-building. The current exhibition Evolvers and Wildtypes at the Long Island City Sculpture Space is her first solo show of these ceramic sculptures. Hoffman’s ceramics’ imagery and forms tap into a previous installation work made from sculpted paper pulp, natural materials, and man-made debris. Paper clay techniques permit the bonding of wet clay to fired forms, enabling the construction of diverse configurations. These components are conjoined to initiate a dialogue between organic and mechanical elements, yielding imagery that defies expectation. The artwork evolves through a rhythm of construction and deconstruction, encapsulating cycles of creation, deterioration, and renewal. Viewers are meant to encounter an elemental rawness, surprise, and a touch of humor.

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Anne Sherwood Pundyk: Beauty Out of Bounds at East End Arts

Featured Exhibition
A room with art on the wall

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Beauty Out of Bounds, East End Arts 11 West Gallery Installation. Painting on the left: Moonset. Painting on the right: The Center Will Hold. Photo courtesy of the artist

Anne Sherwood Pundyk’s solo exhibition, Beauty Out of Bounds, features a vibrant selection of her color-intensive works, many on public display for the first time. Her large, unstretched paintings reveal layers of stained drop cloth canvas interspersed with geometric shapes, cascades of color, bold stitching, sharp lines, and imprinted grids of paint. Her smaller pieces on stitched paper reflect the experimental approach of her larger works. A series of photographs that obscure handwritten journal entries bridge visual art and literature, underscoring the artist’s dual identity as a painter and writer. At the heart of the exhibition is Pundyk’s artist’s book, The Garden, which integrates printed pages and narratives prominently along the gallery walls. Her artworks collectively navigate themes of trauma and forgiveness. “By setting aside received wisdom, I make room for curiosity, investigation, and especially vulnerability”, Pundyk asserts. The exhibition spans both locations of East End Arts Galleries in the Arts District on Main St., Riverhead, NY, and includes various events designed to expand the dialogue.

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Mind Leaves Body at Westbeth

A large room with art on display

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Gallery partial view, main entrance

When Elisabeth Condon noticed an Open Call for a show at Westbeth, she immediately thought of artists Alyse Rosner and Susan Luss, whose process-oriented approach perfectly matched her vision for a collaborative project. They all agreed to come together, planning to let the installation unfold over four days, allowing their work to merge and shape the exhibition dynamics. Their setup process—discussing, reshaping, and improvising in the gallery—revealed more profound interconnections. The trio’s improvisational method produced an exciting viewing experience analogous to a live jazz ensemble with distinct leitmotifs.

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Among Friends

In Conversation
Co Curators of Among Friends, 2018, 2019, 2022

In the summer of 2017, Beth Dary and Patricia Fabricant visited the Museum of Modern Art to see the Robert Rauschenberg show Among Friends. As they were looking at the exhibition, they separated and later found each other at the installation of Hiccups, which consisted of ninety-seven sheets of handmade paper with original Xerox transfer collages zipped together. “At that moment, we both had the same thought—we could hand out zipper papers to our friends to create a great collaborative show,” they recall. Patty had been simultaneously talking with Alexandra Rutsch Brock, who was similarly inspired by Hiccups and had even gone so far as purchasing some zippers. They reached out to their friend groups, and it took off from there. “We had no idea how it would turn out, but we knew it would be a fun adventure,” the co-curators say. Since this art project initiative started during the Trump administration, when women’s rights were under attack. it was important for them to include a charitable component such as Planned Parenthood.

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