Sunday, March 02, 2008

Location: Library Bathroom, Pygmalion-First Floor



Emilie Clark is busy! Here's an update from Nathan Larramendy Gallery:

Emilie Clark
Maxwell’s Lair

March 9th – April 19th, 2008

The Nathan Larramendy Gallery is proud to announce Maxwell’s Lair, a solo exhibition of paintings and sculpture by New York artist Emilie Clark. The gallery will host an afternoon reception on Sunday, March 9th, 3-5pm. Maxwell’s Lair will be Clark’s second solo exhibition at Nathan Larramendy Gallery and is being held in conjunction with a solo presentation of Clark’s work at Elizabeth Leach Gallery in Portland, Oregon. The concurrent shows are documented in a catalog, which includes The Killing Floor, an essay by Frances Richard. Richard is an associate professor of English at Barnard College and is a staff writer at The New Yorker, an editor for Cabinet Magazine, and a reviewer for Artforum.
We might be situated at the taxonomist’s table or vivisectionist’s bench; in the gut of some prodigious beast in mid–digestive cycle: in the primordial soup or primeval forest fast-forwarding toward avian, reptilian, and mammalian evolution. We could be spading the compost, or surveying the mess in the playroom where the child’s Beanie Babies and plush bears are piled pell-mell, sticky with fantasy.
-Frances Richard from The Killing Floor

Maxwell’s Lair is Emilie Clark’s current project continuing a rapt fascination with and investigation into the lives and work of 19th Century women naturalists and natural historians. Martha Maxwell became the subject of Clark’s interest after she learned of her unique life as a determined, but ultimately hapless naturalist in 19th Century America, “who had at the time the largest collection of taxidermy in the US.” Through Maxwell’s Lair, Clark seeks to realize the experience of Martha Maxwell and understand the anomalous work that she accomplished as a woman at that time.

Maxwell “killed and prepared most of the animals in her collection while living in Colorado in the 1870s, first establishing a museum of taxidermy and natural historical curiosities in Boulder and later representing the state of Colorado in the 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia. In both of these “installations” she was one of the first natural historians to exhibit specimens in naturalistic settings—including appropriate flora and landscaping (caves, waterfalls) and sculpting the animals into action poses… In the middle of this life-size diorama was a small grotto where, in Philadelphia, Maxwell lived for most of the exhibition, too poor to afford other lodgings. Though the Fair’s many viewers were stunned by this new and spectacular definition of “Women’s Work” (as the exhibition was titled), Maxwell was never able to secure a permanent home for her collection or continued funding for her work, and died destitute.”

Clark’s watercolors depict a world at once achingly grotesque and delicately serene. Pastels bleed into one another while bold bursts of color nab the senses. Outlined figures hint at limbs in motion. Her depictions of splayed creatures represent the dichotomy of her work: its matter-of-fact nature observes Martha Maxwell’s processes, and at the same time approaches the visual in such a graceful manner that the viewer is in no way set off from the content. It’s confounding how the dissected carcass of a rat can translate as such an ethereal and elegant subject at the hand of Clark.

In a chorus, the heads of primates, felines, birds howl open-mouthed in unison in Untitled, MM-39 (Screaming Heads). Floating remotely, in an environment void of context, the animals provide a haunting insight into the enigmatic experience of Martha Maxwell. As Clark puts it, “working with Martha Maxwell is not about illustrating her life or her work. Instead, it is an attempt to get at the dynamics of her scientific investigation”.

Emile Clark received her BFA at Cornell University and her MFA at Bard College both in New York. Clark has had numerous solo exhibitions both nationally and internationally. Her work has been reviewed in The New Yorker, The New York Times, and ArtForum. Her work is in numerous public and private collections including The Getty Center, Los Angeles, CA; Biblioteque Nationale, Paris, France; The Library of Congress, Washington D.C. to name only a few. Clark has received a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant, Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Residency, and the Elaine deKooning Award among others.

Nathan Larramendy Gallery
107 S. Signal St.
Ojai, CA 93023

Prov.: Nathan Larramendy Gallery, Ojai, CA

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