A new exhibition at Artspace New Haven titled “Modicum” features work that — despite incorporating all manner of found materials — is all flat.
The exhibition, on view from Jan. 29 to March 13, displays works by 10 artists: Yura Adams, Jennifer Davies, Erin Koch Smith, Jenny Krauss, Nate Lerner, Barbara Marks, David Ottenstein, Gerald Saladyga, Barbara Weissberger and Yawen Zheng. Visitors can view “Modicum” from Wednesdays through Saturdays between 12 p.m. and 6 p.m. The featured artworks in “Modicum” offer a glimpse into the artistic styles of different artists, with an often unconventional approach to various mediums.
Curator Sara Salamone, who is also founder of the Queens-based Mrs. Gallery, said the exhibition’s title was chosen because it denotes a “small quantity of a particular thing, especially something considered desirable or valuable.”
Works in the exhibition were selected from Artspace’s “Flatfile Collection.” Flatfile is a filing cabinet at Artspace containing 2D art submitted by local and regional artists. These portfolios are often used to create fully fledged exhibitions at the gallery.
Salamone, who selected pieces for the exhibition, said the submissions were “wide and diverse.” In making her final decisions, Salamone aimed to highlight artists that were disciplined with a “keen awareness” of their artistic mediums.
Artworks in the exhibition demonstrate an unconventional and experimental approach with mediums. For example, Gerald Saladyga’s work plays with press release images purchased on eBay. Yura Adams described her work as a “running conversation” between photography, digital art, drawing and painting. And Barbara Marks repurposes pellet-gun targets as canvases for bright marker drawings.
“Superimposing my drawings on the spent pellet-gun targets elevates them from [waste] to keepable objects,” Marks said.
Besides pellet gun targets, Marks also uses the “collapsed, disassembled packaging” from ordinary objects such as bar soaps, crackers, toothpastes and sandwiches for her art.
Adams’ displayed art shows two different artistic styles: digital prints and drawings. The digital prints, titled “Recombinants,” are images that Adams created on her computer using her painting excerpts and photography work. Adams’ drawings, which also contain photographic elements, reveal her mechanical drawing process.
Saladyga’s pieces also incorporate multimedia. He enlarges images of landscapes from press releases on heavy-duty watercolor paper. The final result looks both technical and detailed as well as dreamy and fantastical.
“It is like play time,” Saladyga said, while describing his creative process. “Once I fasten the photograph down, I have to make a decision and place a mark of some kind on the paper and hope it is in the right place, angle and size and from there let imagination take over.”
The works exhibited by Ottenstein and Lerner are entirely photographic. Both artists hope these images will invite their audiences to pay closer attention to the world around them and devise new ways of seeing. Lerner noted that most of his work looks at “attentiveness as a mode of being.”
While Ottenstein’s work thematically examines the landscape and the way it is perceived, his works also invite audiences to be attentive and reflect.
“My intent is not to judge,” Ottenstein said, “Neither to condemn nor to celebrate — but to point out, to say, ‘take a look at this.’”
But the exhibition only shows a fraction, or “modicum,” of the featured artists’ work. Saladyga said he hopes visitors won’t limit their exploration of the exhibition’s artists to only what they see in the exhibition, but instead use artists’ websites and social media platforms for a deeper appreciation of their work.
“I think it is difficult for any viewer to make any fast opinions seeing just two works,” Saladyga said.
Artspace will host a virtual artist talk on Zoom later in February, at a date still to be determined. The gallery will also post interviews with each artist on its website through March 13.
Annie Radillo | firstname.lastname@example.org
Correction, Feb. 3: A previous version of this article stated that Artspace would post artist interviews starting March 13, when in fact the gallery will post interviews until March 13.