Elemental: Nature Reinterpreted
April 19, 2021 through July 30, 2021
NEW YORK — Wexler Gallery at NYDC presents Elemental: Nature Reinterpreted, an exhibition exploring the give-and-take dynamic of how natural forms and materials influence artists and are in turn impacted by the artist’s vision and hand. In literal or conceptual representations of flora and fauna, and the transformation of earthly materials such as clay, pigment, wood, glass and metal, these artists are reacting to and interacting with nature in myriad ways.
Elemental is on view April 19 through July 30, 2021 at Wexler Gallery at The New York Design Center, 200 Lexington Ave #413, New York, NY 10016.
Heather Ujiie creates large-scale textile installations depicting allegorical narratives. Combining craft and technology, she converts hand painted images into digital form and uses them to build sprawling collages of natural, mythological, and fantastical worlds rich in lush and intriguing detail.
Contemporary designers Eric Slayton, Sharon Sides, and Gregory Nangle all work with metal, achieving vastly different results with varying techniques. Slayton’s Gravity series is made of steel plates reclaimed from post-industrial sites. The structures are fit together through highly precise joints and rely on the weight of the materials and the pull of the earth to hold together, rather than seams or screws. Sides creates tables with tree ring designs acid-etched onto the top surface. The convincingly detailed patterns are developed by computer models of natural forms. Nangle’s more abstract designs emerge from the process of his studio practice pouring and casting bronze and glass. Best described as “Embellished Minimalism”, Nangle’s style combines the purity of geometry with the grittiness of reality. His hands-on approach to design seeks to embrace this relationship between the preplanned and the impulsive; the flawless and the unintentional; the intellectual and the expressive.
The substantial vessels of glass artist Joel Philip Myers, with their many vibrant layers of color and texture, evoke a flower garden in full bloom without incorporating literal floral imagery. Judy Kensley McKie’s distinctive sculptural furniture in bronze and wood incorporates animal forms and plant motifs in her signature simplified and primitive style.
There is a kinship and a contrast between the sculptural works of Louise Nevelson and David Nash. Both are made of darkened wood. Nash’s Black and Crack Sheaves are more naturally shaped and are darkened through a charring process while Nevelson’s Untitled assemblage is made of industrial found objects covered in a layer of black paint.
A decidedly lighter yet more formal aspect is at play in the Twelve Leaf Table by Michael Hurwitz, a masterpiece of craftsmanship utilizing bent wood and cast resin in a perfectly symmetrical — even mathematical — design that nonetheless is an expression of nature in both material and form. Peter Pincus uses porcelain to create graphical, three-dimensional paintings that belie the material’s origin. His colorful geometric cylinders and vessels reimagine the rainbow in matte pixels with muted neutrals.
Reynold Rodriguez uses natural elements in two contrasting limited editions: his playful anthropomorphic and biomorphic gypsum plaster lamps and chairs, and his solid charred reclaimed wood seating. Trish DeMasi’s ceramic sculptures are clearly inspired by nature, but she pushes past the obvious visual sources until the forms become mysterious, otherworldly and new. The Pillars of Meerschaum lighting collection by Feyza Kemahlioglu incorporates the soft white clay of her native Turkey — carved into intricate, often floral, patterns — with hand-blown glass.
Each artist featured in this exhibition begins with nature as their source for their practice, whether it be a physical material, a likeness, or a concept. Put through the filter of their creative vision and their physical and digital tools, the resulting artwork is a reinterpretation of the timeless and ever-changing elements of nature.