Text and photos by Clare Gemima
In the Woods by Sally Saul
Rachel Uffner Gallery, 170 Suffolk St.
In the Woods showcases a packed room and a half of new ceramic sculptures created with a sense of humor, anxiety and down-to-earthness from Sally Saul in her second solo show at Rachel Uffner Gallery.
The array of sculptures within the space play and interact with our senses of familiarity and comfort while also introducing us to a "new normal." A new struggle, a new challenge, a new moment and a new movement. This show forces us to understand that one way to deal with this shitshow of a pandemic is well, to embrace it. (While wearing a mask, please).
During the last several months of living amidst the coronavirus and its subsequent social sorrows, Saul (married to the incredible Peter Saul) reflects on this confusing but unavoidable new world through her detailed expressions and use of finer details as a ceramicist. The work to me almost felt like a personal chronicling of the artists' time in lockdown, a documentation of pandemic experiences and a tribute to the American lives lost.
Sally Saul consistently incorporates the everyday into her sculptural practice, and this time is no different. At In the Woods, we get to surround ourselves with her forest of birds, flowers and the natural world too, which we can understand as her refuge over the course of this work being created.
Taking time to find enjoyment in the smaller pleasures, Saul's sculpture garden at Rachel Uffner Gallery remains light-hearted but is also question-provoking owing to its sophisticated documentative style.
Will artists who are alive in 2020 continue to make reference to the pandemic we currently occupy? Will self-portraits include protective gear as political or apolitical symbolism? What sort of art history are we forming or moving away from?
But forgetting about all of the more serious stuff, the works bulky form and playful undertones are also cause for a much deserved and maybe overdue giggle. This show has all of the right ingredients in it to make you forget about the weight of the world ... just for a moment.
In the Woods is showing at Rachel Uffner Gallery until Jan. 30.
Clare Gemima is a visual artist from New Zealand. New-ish to the East Village, she spends her time as an artist assistant and gallery go-er, hungry to explore what's happening in her local art world. You can find her work here: claregemima.com