GETTYSBURG, PENNSYLVANIA Schmucker Art Gallery, Gettysburg College In Laura Amussen’s recent exhibition, nature provided relief from the pressures of an increasingly stressful world. The works in this intimate, meditative installation were formed from twigs, leaves, reeds, moss, and seeds. The walls were painted a dark red-brown color, the earthiness reinforced by low lighting focused only on the objects.
OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA Mills College Art Museum and San Jose Museum of Art Simultaneously delicate and monumental, familiar and inexplicably strange, Diana Al-Hadid’s work draws on an astounding range of cultural references, only some of which are visible to the naked eye. Fragments of images from paintings, often of biblical subjects, as well as allusions to literature, history, architecture, and science, all invest her sculpture with a backstory.
WASHINGTON, DC American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center Foon Sham’s sculptures evoke a myriad of forms–towers, vessels, baskets, grottoes, mountains, and even tornadoes. Often spiraling upward or outward, his works are built with layered wood, and they are participatory. Since the 1990s, he has created structures that invite viewers into intimate, light-dappled, and wood-scented spaces. Part of the thrill of his work is entering it– a sometimes acrobatic feat when faced with low, jagged passageways.
NEW YORK Anya and Andrew Shiva Gallery, John Jay College of Criminal Justice “Politicizing Space,” curated by Charlotta Kotik, took as its premise the fact that space can be made political by manmade interventions and used to control human movement and behavior. Kotik emphasized the need to understand how this stratagem works in light of Trump administration policies such as the Mexican border wall.
NEW YORK Sundaram Tagore Gallery A first impression of Zheng Lu’s recent exhibition, “Undercurrent,” brought to mind the term “sublime.” Set against pristine white walls, huge silvery waves seemed about to crash through space. The obvious association was to Hokusai’s 19th-century print The Great Wave off Kanagawa, but stylistically, Zheng’s waves have more in common with Northern Song black ink painting, adapted in Japan as Sumi-e, whose sharply delineated brushwork has been compared to samurai sword strokes by the prominent Asian scholar Sherman E. Lee.
HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA, CANADA Mount Saint Vincent University Art Gallery Danish sculptor Tove Storch app roaches sculpture as a way of thinking about materials and looking at space. Arguably, so do all sculptors, but Storch harks back to Minimalists and post-Minimalists such as Donald Judd, Richard Serra, and Jackie Winsor in her refusal to allow thoughts about anything else to intrude on her work. The content of Storch’s work is, quite simply, space and stuff, presented within the theater of the gallery.
TEL AVIV Gordon Gallery Stella Maris, a colossal, open-ended ship’s hull made of discarded, rusted iron components from an industrial turbine, stood at the entrance to a recent exhibition by veteran Israeli sculptor Yaacov Dorchin. A confrontational work in terms of size, bulk, and apparent symbolism, Stella Maris offers a clue to its meaning on the base, which incorporates an iron Star of David.
ROTTERDAM Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen Rhonda Zwillinger’s recent exhibition was unexpectedly rattling. Ten hours after the experience, I could still feel the accompanying soundtrack. The show opened a door that I found myself not wanting to cross because the situation was so troubling. Though the work progressed from tragedy toward acceptance (my wishful thinking?), it offered a disturbing story that deserves attention. Zwillinger, who was active in New York City’s East Village scene in the mid-1970s and ’80s, received widespread attention for sculptures and installations covered with beads and faux precious stones.
Carolyn Enz Hack
BRATTLEBORO, VERMONT Brattleboro Museum & Art Center Entering the Brattleboro Museum’s Mary Sommer Room project space and encountering Carolyn Enz Hack’s Change Your Mind was an experience that clearly called for opening one’s perception. The enormous spiral form, suspended on filament, filled the room like a magical life unfurling before one’s eyes, somewhat akin to a fiddlehead fern in spring. The form was so continuous that it seemed as if it would go on traveling through space.
NEW YORK Marc Straus Gallery Entang Wiharso, based in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, and Rhode Island, titled his recent show “Promising Land.” It’s not clear if this referenced terrain is American or Indonesian, but most likely Wiharso is referring to the dream of affluence and ease identified with the U.S. and now emulated around the world. His recent work has increasingly turned toward a critique of the Americanization of global culture, looking askance at the heightened materialism that threatens to overwhelm the spiritual insight associated with Asian tradition.