The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Little Berlin, the always engaging Philadelphia "undefined exhibition space," is underway with their August exhibition “Growth and Decay.” The show at this Knight Arts grantee heavily explores the nature of, well, nature: biomorphism, living things and organic processes up to and including their eventual breakdown and decay. All of the forms in the space turn it into something of a terrifying surrealist playground, although climbing (on the art at least) is not recommended.
Somewhere between a jungle gym and a massive maze of metallic cliff faces, Samantha Jones astounds all the way around with her dangling sculpture “The Third Day.” Constructed out of the modest materials of wire and crinkled aluminum foil, the artist twists the forms into formations that seem both geological and biological, like the cavernous underground complexes of ants or termites. It's also fun to imagine the surfaces, which Jones coats thinly with hues of blue, brown and matte gesso, populated by tiny cave-dwellers in some hanging fantasy world where sci-fi and insect colony collide.
Marguerita Hagan places a conical pile of dirt on the floor, as a flurry of clay forms claw and climb their way out of the center. Entitled “Lila,” these little creatures seem intent on making their way from the soil to the sky. As they reach the peak of this minute mountain (molehill?) their appendages begin to link together as they form an ambitious but shaky chain into the clouds.
The beautifully textured fabric creations of Emily Barletta provide wall-hung works that seem to creep their way across the space's flatter surfaces. While the textiles are tantalizing, they are at times also grotesque, especially in “Flesh Spot,” which looks like it could certainly use a professional medical opinion. “Spill,” on the other hand, is pleasantly pastel and more like barnacles than boils.
Rounded out with the faceted, geometric forms turned gnarled tree structure of Jackie Brown; the soft, slick curves of the internal organ-like paintings by Alana Bograd; the steely structures full of gnawed-out holes and mingled with draping, parabolic ropes by Lindsay Chandler; and a march of other anonymous clay character by Marguerita Hagan, the show is a heavy hitter of deliberate, yet organic creations that range from amusing and whimsical to creepy and unnerving.
Work for “Growth and Decay” will be on view at the Little Berlin space until August 24, when there will be a closing reception from 6-11 p.m.
Little Berlin is located at 2430 Coral St., Philadelphia; firstname.lastname@example.org; littleberlin.org.