about the exhibition
New Works 12.2
New York, New York
July 12–September 23, 2012ABOUT THE ARTIST
Leslie Hewitt’s work invites viewers to experience a unique space between photography and sculpture. Her compositions are often comprised of political, social, and personal materials that result in the possibility of seeing multiple histories embedded in sculptural, architectural, and even abstract forms. Mundane objects and structures open into complex systems of knowledge; this perceptual slippage is what attracts her to both the illusions of film (still and moving photography) and the undeniable presence of physical objects (sculpture). Exploring this as an artist and not as a historiographer, she draws parallels between the formal appearance of things and their significance to collective history and political consciousness in contemporary art.
Hewitt graduated from The Cooper Union School of Art in 2000. From 2001-2003, she was a Clark Fellow at New York University in the Africana and Cultural studies programs. She received her MFA from Yale University. Her recent exhibitions include Momentum Series 15: Leslie Hewitt, The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston (2011), Massachusetts; The Anxiety of Photography, Aspen Art Museum, Colorado (2011); Human Nature: Contemporary Art from the Collection, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California (2011); Untitled (Level): Leslie Hewitt in collaboration with Bradford Young, Studio Museum Harlem, New York (2011); New Photography 2009, Museum of Modern Art, New York (2009); and the 2008 Whitney Biennial, The Whitney Museum of Art, New York (2009). She was in residence at the American Academy in Berlin in 2012; was a recipient of the 2010 Foundation for Contemporary Arts Individual Artist Grant; and was the 2009-2010 Mildred Londa Weisman Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University.
ABOUT THE PROCESS
During her residency at Artpace, Hewitt used photography as a way to gain perspective on the past and investigated space and form through sculpture. She sought to develop interlocking historical narratives-specifically the social and political climate of the 1960s as pictured in press and news imagery-with sculptural pieces that employ strict geometry, similar to that used in minimalism. Working with steel for this new work, she partnered with a San Antonio metal shop to transform flat sheets of the material. She then interceded in the gallery’s physical space through a subtle architectonic intervention.
While in residency, Hewitt traveled to Houston, Texas, to research and document aspects of the Edmund Carpenter and Adelaide de Menil collection of Civil Rights era photographs, recently gifted to The Menil Collection; studying the archive brought several questions to her mind about the way history is remembered: What wasn’t pictured? What was missed? What were moments lost in between the release of the original camera shutter and now? Ultimately, how to make such questions visible or even felt became a catalyst for her project at Artpace. As a result, she used a micro lens to photographically record fragments pulled from the image field of the archive. In contrast to her earlier works, she moved away from collage within pictorial space to expand into three dimensions and the exploration of perspective and shifts in perspective through sculptural and experiential means.
ABOUT THE EXHIBITION
Hewitt’s exhibition, Where Paths Meet, Turn Away, Then Align Again, explores space conceptually as well as formally through her exploration of the push and pull between flatness and multidimensionality, a singular perspective versus a plural interpretation of history. The installation presents photolithographs, steel sculptures meticulously positioned in the space, and the fabrication of a site-specific wall.
The photolithographic recording of the fragmentation of a Civil Rights era photograph suggests a physical and historic space between Hewitt’s camera lens and the initial decisive moment. The textured quality of the lithographic photo is visible, clearly signifying that it is sourced. The original context for the photographic artifact is obscured by the artist, who enlarges smaller elements found in the sourced image, thereby selecting out information contained in the unaltered version and inserting her own perspective as photographer and researcher.
Following an interest in dimensionality that can be found in her previous work in sculpture and photography, five steel works appear like fragile folded pieces of paper. The choice to industrially cover the sculptures with powder coating mirrors the walls that surround them. While they give the illusion that they may release their bent form at any moment, they are constructed in steel, notorious for its strength and rigidity. The sculptures reference a Minimalist aesthetic, characteristic of a movement in American art in the 1960s and concurrent with the Civil Rights era. Exploring temporality, Hewitt merges narratives to approach the subject of time through political, social, and subjective terms. She pieces together seemingly unrelated material to create new forms that are “ideally more expansive than the original material, bringing juxtaposition and perspective into play, pushing the form to address several concepts all at once.” Where Paths Meet, Turn Away, Then Align Again contemplates time, taking into account the shifts, turns, and disruptions that can occur-but are often unaccounted for. This work is its trace.
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