Co-organized by Leonora Loeb and Elisa Soliven
Underdonk is pleased to present "Modular Mosaic", co-organized by Leonora Loeb and Elisa Soliven. This group exhibition consists of twelve artists, including Eleanna Anagnos, Zoë Cohen, Rachel Frank, Priscilla Fusco, ann/drew gayle, Sue Havens, Matt Merkle Hess, Steve Keister, Alison Kudlow, Pooneh Maghazehe, Dionis Ortiz, and Eun-Ha Paek. Utilizing a range of materials, including paper pulp, wood, fabric, ceramics, glass, and resin, each artist constructs their piece using modular parts that fit together to form their work. The artists in "Modular Mosaic" explore a range of ideas and materials, at times overlapping in conceptual exploration such as societal and technological refuse, overlooked packaging and disregarded materials, and the mining of historical mark-making.
In the mid-90s, Steve Keister developed the idea of an "ancient-modern" correlation, seeing the connection between his collection of styrofoam cartons and the inspiration that he gathered from sculptural relief forms of ancient Mesoamerican architecture. Through casting and mold-making techniques, his work embodies this correlation in "Pilaster", a stack of seven-colored monochrome plaques. Sue Havens also works with modular ceramic parts and a synthesis of language that is both contemporary and ancient. Shifting between painting and sculpture, Havens works "with indexical painting languages from a broad history in New York, (her) surroundings in Tampa, and from hundreds of photographs from Turkey." Eleanna Anagnos likewise explores the intersection between the ancient and modern, utilizing cotton and linen fibers, clay, rock specimens, and oil in her practice.
Pooneh Maghazehe’s sculptures combine materials in an unpredictable fashion. Often working with molds, repeated forms become unique as they are layered with Maghazehe’s unlikely studio materials- layers of materials like spray foam, paper pulp, and even remnants of a kiddie pool, become skins covering these forms. Dionis Ortiz similarly incorporates discarded and often overlooked materials, such as cardboard and linoleum, in the studio. In his words, Ortiz’s works "celebrate the aesthetics of Afro Caribbean diasporic communities and create empathy across people of color." Zoë Cohen burnishes marks into wood tiles, maintaining a desired flatness and an orientation towards the object, as opposed to the image, in her piece, "Assembled (with Open Forms)".
Rachel Frank uses fabric, clay, and a host of other materials. She makes large-scale sculptural objects that engage with natural history, extinction, and climate change. Alison Kudlow combines the materials of ceramics and glass and through a science of varying melting temperatures which captures glass in motion. Both ann/drew gayle and Priscilla Fusco use the technique of nerikomi, a ceramic marbling technique first done in ancient times that incorporates modules of colored clay into a design that can be repeated throughout a work. gayle forms irregular vessel shapes that have a stained-glass effect, as light passes through them. Fusco makes square tiles using the nerikomi but adds a relief component that takes on naturalistic forms and references their own histories in contemporary news, fashion, and surrealism. Also working in clay, Matthias Merkel Hess explores mass-produced forms and icons of pop culture while celebrating the handmade and the possibilities of clay. Eun-Ha Paek, using a 3D printing machine, translates traditional ceramic-making techniques into clay forms. She investigates the process/object duality and the fissure that occurs between the machine and how it transmits the hand of the maker. For her, "these works are an ongoing dialogue between the machine and myself."
The artists in the show make forms that are often replicated and assembled, reconsidered, and reassembled. While looking at various cultural histories and contemporary issues, the works in “Modular Mosaic” use interdependent parts to make a whole.