All the Pieces Matter
curated by Leslie Roberts

We're building something here, detective, and we're building it from scratch. And all the pieces matter.
—Detective Lester Freamon, The Wire

These artists construct wholes out of parts. Some employ an inventory of personally resonant elements or motifs. Others transform found materials, or dissect and reassemble their own work. The resulting wholes may refer to real and imagined subjects, may be imbued with textual, symbolic, or cultural meaning, or may focus on visual experience.

Vadis Turner transmutes domestic materials such as bedsheets and ribbons into commanding presences with a raw beauty. Alisa Sikelianos-Carter melds photos of braided hair into otherworldly “crowns” that project mystery, opulence, and power, effecting a shift from historical views of Black bodies. Katherine Duclos, who makes work with and about breast milk, recently began constructions of Legos that weren’t originally intended to “be anything,” celebrating motherhood in a literally playful process. 

In paintings spinning with movement, Jennifer K. Moses evokes the energy of recent protests through dynamic choreographies of fragmented body parts and signs. Linnea Paskow recreates dreamt memory with snippets of photos, in images that just cohere while on the verge of flying apart. 

Mary Temple and Iona Fromboluti are painters of light and shadow who recently began remixing their work in abstract collages. In Fromboluti’s cut-and-torn paper construction, a subtle rhythm of circles underlies a skittering dance of colorful marks. Temple layers shards of hand-painted paper to create a rush of pattern on pattern; her title Fast Times nods to the black-and-white checkered Vans worn by Sean Penn in the iconic pop culture film. Pattern also drives Kevin Umaña’s ceramic painting, in which modular elements interlock with a snap. Susan Wanklyn’s studio is populated with large paper shapes serving as models and familiars; her paintings play with surface and space through distilled rearrangements of those motifs.

Ellen Kozak and Stephanie Franks turn densely pigmented Coloraid paper into chromatic poetry. Kozak, whose subjects are river surfaces, photographs and prints textured sections of her paintings onto colored sheets, then arranges strips to evoke nighttime illumination from river traffic. Franks teases out relationships among piles of cuttings and leftovers to ignite scraps of color. Louisa Waber, like Franks, puts fragments together intuitively, in pared-down works that bestow significance on each seemingly casual mark and shape.

This group includes work with distinct meaning, and work found through improvisatory cobbling. The boundary between intent and intuition is a slipping one. When you put pieces together, unexpected things happen. These artists have a fine eye for the moments when disparate parts cohere into something not planned or seen before. As Paul D’Agostino’s painting, translated, says to us: LOOK.

—Leslie Roberts