“Trill Matrix,” the brightly innovative, mostly sculptural, show, is curated by Elizabeth Riley, who belongs to the female collaborative group by the same name. Shown in the Abrazo Interno Gallery on the second floor of The Clemente, the Lower East Side public school that is home to dozens of local artists who work in the studios it offers, “Trill Matrix” is an exhibition that revisits the improvisatory, street-wise esthetic that animated the neighborhood decades ago, before the gentrification of the area began. The artists involved–Nancy Baker, Jaynie Crimmins, Christina Massey, Elizabeth Riley, Christine Romanell, Linda Kamille Schmidt, and Etty Yaniv–tend to make work whose frontal textures are complex and sometimes, but not always, colorful. The do-it-yourself ambiance of the exhibition reminds one of the arte povera movement, its reliance on “poor” materials.
Nancy Baker is a New York artist; her work is influenced by the city’s infrastructure. Shredded Cold Victory (2018) is an excellent work of art, composed of open polygonal shapes, composed of strips of printed and painted paper resulting in a more rigid support. A couple of objects–orange painted forms–are embedded in the matrix. Light from the gallery throws a shadow against the wall, so that the overall structure is repeated again. The work is large–likely eight feet across and moving two or three feet from the wall into the gallery space–and feels monumental despite its inexpensive materials. Jaynie Crimmins works with promotional mailings to distribute information meant to counter the untruths flooding media today. Her wall installation, composed of examples of works take from “A Field Guide to Getting Lost” (a book whose writings have inspired her) consists of the mailings arranged in a circular design, so the information on the cards is changed from editorial to visual meaning.
Christina Massey works with repurposed beer cans so that their text and barcode become visual information rather than information intended to be read. Hidden Within (2018) is a flower-like form sitting on a low pedestal with three other of the artist’s works; it is composed of long petals made of differing materials, including the beer-can aluminum. Using industrial substances, Massey has created an image seemingly taken from nature–something as beautiful as if it had directly come from nature itself. Elizabeth Riley’s work occupies the space between physical and digital realities, asking questions about the definition and the meaning of that space. In Prototype 2: Canopy (2018), Riley has printed, by means of an ink-jet printer, different patterns on paper that originated with video imagery. Her other materials include mylar and patterned aluminum. The overlapping of the patterns is quite beautiful and presents a collage created with genuine inspiration.
Christiane Romanell’s Cubed (2018) is an open form shaped by acrylic strips that form patterns but allow her audience to look into the space formed by the cube. The colors of the acrylic strips are different, and lights outside the cube throw shadows onto the wall, much like the larger piece made by Nancy Baker. Cubed manages to be both self-contained and open in the same moment. Linda Kamille Schmidt’s panels of fabric hung from wooden dowels are remarkably attractive to look at. The long strips of pastel-colored gauze make the sculptures look festive; they begin with a high-styled immediacy, and their draping gives them almost an architectural structure and weight. Etty Yaniv’s Estuary (2018), made of mixed media placed on six canvases, stretches across a gallery wall with a density of texture that is unusual in contemporary art. The panels, three on one side of a wall corner and three on the other, are slightly separated from each other at the top, the furthest right panel especially so. The materials used are dark, so that the entire hanging feels like the dark mouth of a large river opening into the sea–as the work’s title suggests.
The different efforts by these seven talented women really have more to do with their use of proletarian materials than a similarity of purpose and forms. The press release suggests a political intent supporting what we see, and, given the nature of the show’s site, the fact that the women belong to a collaborative group, and the raw inexpensiveness of what is used to make the art, it makes sense to see the pieces as social commentary. But the works are often beautiful, too, and as such, they find an attractive esthetic in the world of New York City. It is, in fact, a matrix they have created, one that allows their work and their audience the freedom to breathe at a time when such freedom cannot be taken for granted. Riley has done an excellent job, choosing works that re-purpose creativity and materials in ways that are memorable and socially distinctive.
Trill Matrix at the Abrazo Interno Gallery
December 7, 2018 – January 19, 2019
107 Suffolk Street
New York, NY 10002
Gallery hours are from Monday – Sunday 3:30 to 7 pm.
Images provided by the gallery.