Review of "Lie Like a Rug"
at James Graham & Sons Gallery, 1014 Madison Ave, NYC
June 21- August 31, 2001
Time Out Magazine
July 19-26, 2001 Issue No. 304

"Alterations" James Graham & Sons, through Aug 31
You can find many dense patterns and intense colors to be found in this tight group show, which focuses on artistic "alterations" of domestic handicrafts. But woven into these optically charged surfaces, you'll find some quieter, more insidious conceptual threads.

Get ready for some double takes. Nancy Romines'es large charcoal drawing of concentric, swirling knots of yarn hangs in the gallery's street-level window: Passersby may have trouble deciding whether to interpret one elongated aureole shape in the piece as a vagina or a hangman's noose. Expanding on the yarn theme, Xenobia Bailey crochets wildly colorful circles that look like sunspots of orange and blue. Installed beneath Bailey's work, Devorah Sperber's floor sculpture, Lie Like a Rug, looks just like an Oriental carpet--but is actually made from 18,000 plastic pen caps. Together with Bailey's work, the two artists' contributions are so visually intense that they seem like retinal afterimages of each other.

Other works are more delicate but no less striking. Donna Sharrett crafts her "memento more" (a series she began while nursing her mother through terminal illness) out of dried rose petals and tightly braided flaxen hair. Her sculptures seem able to speak both of closely guarded loss and emotional release. Meanwhile, Jim Hodges makes light work of cutting floral patterns from woment's silk scarves, using them to construct a full, flimsy, sweet boutquest that is held up by nary more than two pushpins.

Yet George Stoll steals the prize for the work that is the lightest on its feet, having made two hanging sculptures out of what seem to be, at first glance, paper-streamer party decorations (they're actually made of silk organza). These offer the profiles of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, but only from certain angles: Look at them from the side and you see animated, Mount Rushmore-like silhouettes. Look at the fabric dead-on from the front, however, and the portraits dissolve into unrecognizable, miasmal conglomerations of abstract shapes. "Alterations" stiches together quite a few of these heady moments, in which first impressions suddenly transform into deeper and more lasting ones. --Sarah Schmerler

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