March 3 – April 6, 2018, 3:30-7:00 PM, Abrazo Interno Gallery
Curated by: Mario Naves
Featuring Artwork by:
Diyan Achjadi | Artemis Alcalay | Maria de los Angeles | Laura Dodson | Marsha Gold Gayer | Stephanie Hightower | Pat Lay
March 3 – April 6, 2018
Opening Reception: Saturday, March 3, 6-8 PM
Few questions are as persistent– or frustrating –than those surrounding the meaning of what it is, exactly, to be human. Given the run of opinions and theories over the span of history, the human has proven a subject prone to perpetual re-definition. Philosophers, politicians and religious leaders have attempted to interpret human nature and, in more than a few cases, codify it– sometimes for salutary purposes, sometimes not. If anything is constant about the “human”, it is inherent unpredictability, a slipperiness of need and ambition.
As we continue into the twenty-first century, how is the world we helped to shape shaping us? Every artist– at least, any artist worth her salt –works in response to the surrounding culture, if in ways that are closer to osmosis than reportage. Historical context doesn’t determine aesthetic worth, but it would be foolhardy to deny its influence. There is no escaping our self-awareness as a species. The artists featured in “Half Human” elaborate upon this predicament in ways that reaffirm its primacy.
The sculptures and assemblages of Pat Lay make a point of how technology is transforming the collective body and mind: her totemic visages combine the mechanical and the iconic, suggesting a dystopia that is less futuristic than we might like to admit. Diyan Achjadi’s works-on-paper, in contrast, encompass the natural world: her kaleidoscopic amalgams of East, West and cultures yet to be imagined offer stages in which myth and magic are allowed a fierce experience.
The art of Maria de los Angeles transforms biography– in this case, that of a child born to Mexican immigrants –into a rambunctious brand of agit-prop that takes significant (and surprising) forays into fashion. De Los Angeles looks to German Expressionism for inspiration, as does Marsha Gold Gayer, whose drawings are as nuanced as they are mordant. Working from the live model, Gayer uncovers a discomfiting eroticism within her taxonomies of likeness, body-type and mark-making.
The body– or, rather, its limitations –figures prominently in the photographs and assemblages of Artemis Alcalay. Disassociation is her leitmotif, and Alcalay divines an almost counterintuitive tenacity of spirit within weathered textures and starkly configured compositions. Divination of a different sort marks the photographic tableaux of Laura Dodson, in which the malleability of memory is elaborated upon with ghostly specificity. In Dodson’s art, narrative structures arise from the promiscuous convergence of the documentary and the invented.
The puzzle-like compositions of Stephanie Hightower— schematic overlays of iconographs and panoramic vistas –are rebuses that promise no ready answer. Hightower’s paintings underscore the nature of this exhibition’s theses, suggesting that an integral component of the human is its ability to not only brook contradiction, but to welcome it. In this way, “Half Human” posits an optimism without which we are not human at all.
— Mario Naves 2018.
Mario Naves is a painter, art critic, teacher and curator based in New York City.
About the Artists:
Diyan Achjadi’s prints, drawings, and animations have appeared in numerous international exhibitions. Her art examines historical prints and surface ornamentation, trading narratives of cross-cultural imaginings, influences and contaminations. Born in Jakarta, Indonesia, Achjadi currently resides in Vancouver, BC where she is an Associate Professor at Emily Carr University of Art and Design.
Artemis Alcalay studied painting and set design in the School of Fine Arts of Athens where she was born. She received an M.A. in Studio Art from NYU. She exhibits her art in Greece and abroad, collaborates with modern dance companies as a set and costume designer, and designs hand-tufted carpets. Her multi media works range from painting and sculpture to weaving, embroidery, photography and digital art. Memory and loss, identity and gender issues, are her recurrent subject matter.
Mexican born and raised in California, Maria de los Angeles is a New York City based artists. De Los Angeles received her MFA in painting and printmaking from Yale University School of Art (2015). She has been recognized for community-oriented projects such as the creation of an arts programs for youth, receiving the Community Action Partnership’s award, and the Blair Dickinson Memorial Prize awarded by Yale University. She is a visiting Professor at Pratt Institute and was an artist in residency at El Museo del Barrio (2017) and at Mana Contemporary (2015-2017). She has had solo exhibitions at Schneider Museum of Art in Ashland, Oregon, the Los Angeles county Museum at Charles White Elementary, ETAY Gallery in Manhattan and St. John’s University, Jamaica campus.
Photographer Laura Dodson has been the subject of several one-person exhibitions in Athens, Greece, and New York City. Her images have appeared at Lesley Heller Workspace in New York, the Godwin-Turnbach Museum in Queens, Schafler Gallery in Brooklyn, The Cycladic Art Museum of Syros, The Municipal Gallery of Piraeus, and the Contemporary Art Center of Thessaloniki, Greece. She teaches at Queens College and Pratt Institute.
Stephanie Hightower’s paintings and drawings have appeared in solo exhibitions at the Flatiron Art Space, the New York Public Library, The Cooper Union, and Cheryl McGinnis Gallery in New York City. She has received several awards, including a residency at Berlin’s Technische Universitat, a Barbara White Fellowship at the Vermont Studio Center, and an Education Honoree for Excellence in the Arts from NURTUREart.
Marsha Gold Gayer attended the High School of Art and Design and received her BFA from Cooper Union for the Advancement of Arts and Sciences. She also studied at the Art Students League of New York. She has exhibited on Long Island, NYC and elsewhere. Highlights on Long Island include Guild Hall, St. Joseph’s College, Alpan Gallery, Heckscher Museum of Art, Art League of Long Island, the Long Island Museum, Alfred Van Loen Gallery and Uniondale Library. Highlights elsewhere include the Space Womb Gallery (NYC), Art Students League of New York (NYC), and at the Pikes Peak Community College Gallery (Colorado) in an exhibit titled “The Figure Reframed.”
Pat Lay’s works pans mixed media sculpture, collage and works on paper. She has received two grants in sculpture from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and a grant from the American Scandinavian Foundation. She has been awarded three public art commissions including the installation of a large-scale site-specific sculpture in the sculpture park at the Henie-Onstad Kunstsenter in Oslo, Norway. She has had solo exhibitions at the Jersey City Museum; New Jersey State Museum; and Douglass College, Rutgers University. Work has been included in numerous national and international group exhibitions including the 1975 Biennial at the Whitney Museum of American Art. A survey of Lay’s work from the 1970s tot he present. “Myth, Memory & Android Dreams” was recently presented at Ajira, A Center for Contemporary Art, Newark, NY and accompanied by a catalog.