Essye Klempner, For The Birds

Thomas Hunter Project Space
930 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY

Through November 23

For the Birds is a presentation of ceramics and works on paper by Essye Klempner, Hunter College’s 2018 Artist-in-Resident.

Last summer, Klempner placed ceramic bird baths with nude figures bathing throughout New York’s private and community gardens. Referencing silent films such as “Ecstasy” with Hedy Lamarr, Klempner relies less on verbal language, and predominantly on the gesture of the actor. Using the minimal visual information provided from grainy film, Klempner completes the figure missing from the still shots. Other figures are acquired from photographs, such as a friend playing chess, or through observation of a lover bathing after a long work week.

Another body of work to be presented is sunprints, a camera-less photographic process by which Anna Atkins helped develop to identify plant life. Klempner considers the making of the work as being closer to the traditions of still life and en plein air painting, as the works are made outdoors with natural sunlight. She draws from the local-scale of material gathered through her walks in the city: fallen leaves from trees, weeds like Queen Anne’s Lace, and keys or coins collected in her pockets. Plexiglass is then used to firmly press the objects for closer contact with the light-sensitive paper, which is also included in the final viewing of the print with scattered mushroom spores.

These entities welcome us to the world growing in microbiomes of the urban condition.

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