Rachel Mica Weiss makes art that is expansive, large and heavy. She studied psychology at Oberlin, metal casting and weaving at the Maryland Institute College of Art, and sculpture at the San Francisco Art Institute. Making use of a variety of materials — often manipulated to appear other than what they are — her pieces inhabit sections of public places and occupy smaller gallery spaces. While Weiss is undeniably inspired by the physical surroundings of her work, she invariably returns to inner tensions. In a 2014 interview with Eyes Towards the Dove, Weiss revealed, “I think all of my works deal with the issues that are most salient in my life: mental barriers, physical limitations, control.”
“Limits,” on view at LMAK Gallery, further explores these psychological issues with a collection of new pieces fashioned out of concrete, marble and obsidian. These materials, known and used for their strength and unswayability, here curve and bend and balance against each other and the gallery in ways that feel precarious.
Fold IV (2018) and Fold V (2018) are both made with cast concrete and raw obsidian. Fold IV features a mottled slab of concrete that stands nearly vertical to the wall, only the top edge leaning against it. Further down, a portion of the concrete is thicker in depth, causing the surface to rise and fall. Curving out with the floor, the bottom portion of the slab serves as a landing for a substantial chunk of obsidian — roughly diamond in shape — which stands on a single point. Something vital appears trapped in the concrete. The obsidian rock appears poised to fall.
Fold V also features a slab of concrete and a rock of obsidian. The rock in this piece is more rectangular in shape. The bottom portion of Fold V’s slab curves out above the floor, rather than with it, granting the obsidian only a small, downward curving ledge. The ledge feels similar to a lap formed by bent knees that could easily bend vertically. While the rock itself rests in a less precarious position than the other, laid horizontally, the situation appears more hazardous as the slab that holds it juts out further from the wall and floor in a way that seemingly offers ground that is much less secure.
In her interview with Eyes Toward the Dove, Weiss went on to say, “As a hiker and rock-climber, I feel more at home in the mountains. Even though many have said that my earlier work is very nautical, open water scares me. Maybe that’s why it comes out in my work.” Bound Landscape III (2018) and Bound Landscape IV (2018) are hanging pieces, made with concrete and marble, which can easily appear as depictions of land or water.
Within concrete frames that appear almost rusted, the marble takes on shapes that appear at once like land formations and sea. Bound Landscape III can be read as rolling hills or calm waters, while Bound Landscape IV can be read as steep mountain terrain or tidal waves. In both scenarios, expansive areas governed by powerful natural forces appear confined and contained — whether out of a desire to capture and retain them as in a photograph or to make them smaller and more manageable as in a response to fear.
Taking inspiration from artists such as Richard Serra, Louise Bourgeois and Katharina Gross, Rachel Mica Weiss melds psychological reflection with durable materials to create bold shapes and designs that somehow always feel fragile. Facing the human condition head-on, Weiss’s abstract works mirror our own instances of fear and fortitude, frailty and strength.
Rachel Mica Weiss
October 26 – December 21, 2018
298 Grand St.
New York, NY 10002