Lines and Folds: Third Friday at 78th Street
As a theme for an art exhibit, “Lines and Folds” could include absolutely anything. But the show of that name at Hilary Gent’s HEDGE Gallery gathers four artists who specifically work with the power of lines and the dimensionality of folds in defining ways–not simply as boundaries or profiles, but as the substance of the works. Zachary Whitehurst, Christine Mauersberger, Grace Summanen, and David Masters are four vey different artists, to be sure–vastly different in materials, for one thing, and in the ways they express with them, too. But they have in common the use of lines as not only the structural elements of their work, but as central to the messages they send, and the sensibilities they convey. It doesn’t hurt that HEDGE has ample space for the lines and folds to roam.
Christine Mauersberger, for example, used the space to hang this cloud burst of stitched plastic. The fluid lines of the suspended ribbons exude care-freedom, which is all you might think about, except for the fact that every inch of plastic ribbon is stitched, and therefore the care-free fluidity is checked by the deliberate, careful act of pulling thread through the material over and over again, at even, tiny intervals. In her artist statement, Mauersberger says her work “is primarily about the act of making marks to represent the concept of time.” In these pieces, the overwhelming quantity of hours, minutes, and seconds–clearly present if you look close–simply flows as part of the larger whole–the day, the year, the life. Not all Mauersberger’s work needs this much space, but this piece uses it well.
Zach Whitehurst’s abstract drawings don’t occupy vast amounts of space like that, but they have in common the fact that they are made of tiny, meticulous marks. I found myself removing my glasses and looking close, the way aged people do when they trust neither their glasses nor their eyes. The flowing shapes Whitehurst makes with pen and ink are the accumulation of perhaps thousands of small lines. Overall, the drawings look something like land forms, but the the closer look calls to mind obsessive, careful mark making.
The labor intensity of these pieces and the fact that they are made with black ink on white paper seems to beg for intaglio print, which the Brooklyn-based Ohio native says several of his friends are doing. But these are hand drawn, one-of-a-kind. Indeed, Whitehurst says he is committed to endowing each individual piece with the gravity that comes from pouring so much effort into an object and making only one.
The lines in David Masters’ sculptural installations show tension, pushing materials toward the breaking point. Masters deals with memory in “architectonic” settings. The word Architectonic calls to mind both buildings and earthquakes, and that’s apt for works like “”There’s Truth Beneath the Floorboards” which has a mass of household stuff bulging through ruptured floorboards. The boards have flexed against the strain, ultimately giving up to the pressure, splitting the floor open like an innertube in the process of blowing out. You could read this any number of ways, as the intrusion of memories on the present, or the inability of a house to contain all the stuff of human life. But it’s at least as much fun just to look at.
Grace Summanen’s recent bas relief works are somewhere between sculpture and painting, It’s important to her, and therefore to the substance of her work, not to go out shopping for material, but to make her pieces out of stuff she has recycled from her own day to day life.
That includes cardboard tubes, rubber bands, blankets, and more, covered heavily in acrylic paint. A piece called “Orange Fleece” is made in part with a scrunched up blanket. The alignment of lines and folds comes out looking positively spinal, bloody, like a peeled torso. It would be too much to say these pieces are made of the remains of life, but there’s something to that, even if in other works the message has much less to do with flesh and more to do with consumption of everything from toilet paper and paper towels to plastic grocery bags. A collection of six pieces made from cardboard tubes and rubber bands covered with enamel and acrylic calls to mind barnacles and seaweed.
Her “Tape Cell,” made from cardboard, scotch tape, and photographic tape, looks like some sort of coral. All these make something new out of something old, something beautiful, tenacious, and alive out of some precarious circumstance over which they have no control. And that’s at least part of what life is about.
It’s remarkable the way this show coheres with such diverse work. You’ve got just one more third Friday–March 21–to check it out.