NEW YORK CITY — For her third solo show at the Rachel Uffner gallery and her first at the new Suffolk Street location (New York City, November 1 – December 30, 2015), Hilary Harnischfeger presented wall-mounted and free-standing works whose use of clay, plaster, paper, ink, and minerals, continued Harnischfeger’s exploration of these materials. Steel supports and wooden elements are new additions to the work, along with the introduction of drawing and brushstrokes. Not wanting to directly alter the surface quality of the hydrostone, Harnischfeger subtly cured oil pastel marks, and drawings, onto the ceramic surface itself.
Above image: Hilary Harnischfeger, Bovina, 2015; ceramic, hydrostone, pigment, crushed glass, oil stick, paper, wood; 20 x 22 x 10 inches
Working out of an old barn located in the northwestern part of the Catskill Mountains, Harnischfeger relied heavily upon that landscape – the barn itself – and her family’s constant presence in those spaces for both material and conceptual inspiration. These sources include the unexpected moments of steep relief, where creeks and rivers have eroded the land, the mortise and tenon joinery and hand-hewn timbers holding the 100-year-old barn together, and her children’s overall fascination with nature and their surroundings.
Utilizing the same silicone mold as a point of departure for each of the pieces, Harnischfeger began this body of work as a meditation on memory, both conscious and muscle memory. From this singular starting point she has created sculptures – like memory itself – that are part truth and part invention, and predominantly informed by experience.
Referencing both the body and the landscape, these new works tend to be at odds with themselves, both raw and overworked, adroitly crafted and accidental, peaceful and violent. The vertical free-standing pieces are confident in their verticality – but in keeping with Harnischfeger’s inherent contradictions – balanced while threatening to fall over, propped up by metal brackets, or nothing at all. Similarly, the wall-mounted pieces made of heavy ceramics and gemstones become weightless as they float on the wall. “Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes,” Harnischfeger’s works, like Whitman said of himself, are inherently in conflict.
Hilary Harnischfeger has recently participated in shows at the Cleveland Museum of Art (Cleveland, OH), MOCA Cleveland (Cleveland, OH), American University Museum (Washington, DC), Galerie Lelong (New York, NY), and has had a solo exhibition with Halsey Mckay Gallery (East Hampton, NY), V1 Gallery (Copenhagen, DE), James Fuentes (New York, NY), James Cohan Gallery (Shanghai, CH), among many others. Harnischfeger lives and works in New York.
Text (edited) and photographs courtesy of the gallery.