Nicki Cherry: Speaking with Lions
The Border Project Space
Curated by Jamie Martinez
July 9 – July 31, 2021
Opening reception July 9 from 6 – 8:30 pm
The Border Project Gallery is pleased to present Speaking with Lions, a solo exhibition with works by Nicki Cherry and curated by Jamie Martinez.
If a lion could speak, we could not understand him. — Ludwig Wittgenstein
Nicki Cherry’s practice explores the subjectivity of language and assesses how communication is only fully effective within a space of shared experience and context. Her alien-like, mixed-media sculptures, although foreign in nature, have a human sensibility. The ceramics are placed on medical step stools, evoking vulnerability and the gestures of the forms emulate the expansive range of human feelings: “failure, fragility, pain, awkwardness and aspiration.” Cherry invites the viewer to engage with these amorphous figures with hopes to transcend through the barriers and into the connective tissues.
Deriving inspiration from speculative fiction, Cherry alludes to sci-fi novels, religion and folklore. Out of the Calf, into the Mouth refers to the first-century Ancient Greek text A True History, written by Syrian satirist Lucian of Samosata, where alien species give birth through incisions in their calves and pull newborns out of their legs. The seemingly misconfigured “calf” is leaking a milky liquid that points to our own bodies’ fragility.
The milky liquid, circulating within the piece, is also found in Look at her tears, they have been poured into a leg. The sculpture, where water trickles from the toes, is a direct reference to ancient Iranian wine vessels made in the shape of human legs and the title is influenced by the quote, “Look at Mary’s tears of blood: they have been poured into a Christian’s leg.”
The Trepan series—consisting of stoneware forms—are plastered onto the walls as if they’re budding within the gallery space. Trepan I-V refers to Hieronymus Bosch’s “Cutting the Stone” where a doctor removes a mythological stone of folly from a patient’s head and replaces it with a tulip. Cherry expresses how the series represents her “anxiety as a bundle of undulating sprouts that struggled to shoot out of my chest.”
The sculptures on display are made out of an assortment of stoneware, wax, fiberglass, plaster, cement and latex. Ceramics are integral in Cherry’s works as they contemplate the profound history of ceramic and stone objects, often the only connection we, in the modern-day, have to our past civilizations:
“If digital and paper records are lost 10,000 years from now, what objects will remain as artifacts for future humans to study our present civilization? How would the objects I am making be understood by people living with an entirely different context?
Nicki Cherry is a visual artist based in Queens, New York. Cherry received her MFA from Yale School of Art in 2019 and her BA from The University of Chicago in 2014. She has exhibited her work nationally, including at Shin Gallery in New York; Icebox Project Space in Philadelphia; Archer Beach Haus, the Reva David Logan Center for the Arts, and Slate Arts and Performance in Chicago; and Green Hall Gallery in New Haven. In 2014, she completed a residency at Tyler School of Art.
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