Micro/Macro: Culling the Flux of Contemporary Life

Featuring Jessie Henson, Kate MacDonnell, Christy Speakman
Curated by Laura Leffler

Opening Reception: Sunday March 17, 3-5:30 PM
Exhibition Dates: March 16 – April 14, 2013
Gallery Hours: Tuesday – Sunday, 12-6pm
Location: 120 Essex Street (inside Essex Street Market)

Modernity is the transient, the fleeting, the contingent;
it is one half of art, the other being the eternal and the immovable.
-Charles Baudelaire, The Painter of Modern Life (1859)

The Contemporary is a moment pulled from the flux; a flash of time somehow unaware of the relentless shifting of communities, buildings that rise and fall, storefronts that change and adapt, and landscape that readjusts to a changing climate. In this exhibition, three artists – Jessie Henson, Kate MacDonnell and Christy Speakman – explore the notion of contemporary flux. Henson collects, MacDonnell maps, and Speakman records. From these processes, all three artists produce a most stunning analogy – they transform documents of contemporary instability into the most eternal element of all: the cosmos.

Jessie Henson is a collector. She has always taken pleasure in cheap treasures found in thrift stores and flea markets. In her sculpture, Henson transforms these ephemeral objects – sequins, marbles – into grand and shimmering galaxies. She creates a unique environment for each work, building from the aesthetic of her material. For this exhibition, Henson will focus on these tiny things, transforming them into a fantastic universe.

Kate MacDonnell’s work concentrates on interactions in urban communities. She uses her camera to document the changes and ex-changes of neighborhoods from Washington DC to the Lower East Side. To her, a city is a hub of human interconnectedness – yet perversions of perspective often lead to strained or imbalanced relationships. MacDonnell distorts seemly straightforward human interaction by playing with perspective and scale. While her pictures are mostly based in terrene reality, strategic explosions of light and gaping holes of darkness betrays their visual mimicry of the cosmos.

Christy Speakman has spent years filming and photographing oil leaks from passing vehicles in the New York City. The oil stains appear in her work like the swirls of galaxies and the swooping of comets. For the project at Cuchifritos, Speakman has introduced bubbles of actual landscape, a Louisiana swamp, allowing the viewer both a god’s-eye perspective of deep space and a human sense of scale and grounding.

Henson, MacDonnell and Speakman all share an affinity for the transience, grit, and brutality of contemporary life. Likewise, each artist is able to find the eternal within its tiniest puddles and corners. And that balance, according to Charles Baudelaire, is the definition of art itself.

Image Credit: Kate MacDonnell, Snow Falling Like Comets 2, 2009, archival inkjet print mounted to diabond, 6×9 inches, edition of 3 + 1 AP

 

Cuchifritos is FREE to the public and handicap accessible. Located inside Essex Street Market at the south end nearest Delancey.

Cuchifritos Gallery & Project Space is a program of Artists Alliance Inc, a 501c3 not for profit organization located on the Lower East Side of New York City within the Clemente Soto Velez Cultural and Educational Center. Cuchifritos is supported in part by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. This program is made possible by public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. We thank the following for their generous support: Foundation for Contemporary Arts, New York City Economic Development Corporation and individual supporters of Artists Alliance Inc. Special thanks go to our team of dedicated volunteers, without whom this program would not be possible.