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Celebrating Women Artists at the Gibbes

Lauren Fensterstock, The Order of Things, 2016. Shells, wood, mixed media, 78 x 240 x 26 inches. Image courtesy of the artist and Claire Oliver Gallery.

Celebrating the achievements of women artists, the Gibbes Musuem of Art presents A Dark Place of Dreams: Louise Nevelson with Chakaia Booker, Lauren Fensterstock, and Kate Gilmore. On view from September 28, 2018 through January 6, 2019, the exhibition features the monochromatic assemblages of Louise Nevelson (1899–1988), a pioneering American sculptor of the twentieth century, and her impact on the next generation of highly-acclaimed women sculptors represented by Chakaia Booker (b. 1953), Lauren Fensterstock (b. 1975), and Kate Gilmore (b. 1975). Born in Kiev, Russia (present-day Ukraine), of Jewish descent, Nevelson and her family immigrated to the United States to escape religious persecution. In the 1930s, she broke into the male-dominated New York art scene, and with extraordinary talent and sheer determination, emerged as a force in American sculpture.

In her most iconic works, Nevelson utilized wooden objects gathered from urban debris piles to create monumental installations. Her lasting impact on contemporary sculptors who expand the tradition of assemblage in innovative and provocative ways is most evident in the works of Booker, Fensterstock, and Gilmore. Booker takes the ordinary—tires—and renders them into the extraordinary. Architectural in scale, she imbues her monumental sculptures with new life by shearing, shredding, slicing, bending, and folding repurposed rubber. Renowned for her inventive interpretations of nature and gardens, Fensterstock crafts dark, supernatural worlds of monochromatic landscapes, often fashioned in all black. Gilmore employs rocks, jars, paint, and wood in hybrid performance-based sculptures. In A Dark Place of Dreams, these varied objects—from rubber tires to shells to paint in motion—register as somber black volumes dissolving into complex surfaces, echoing the mystery and scale of Nevelson’s pieces. Together, the works on view speak to the incredible ingenuity and creative vision of female sculptors working in the United States today.

This exhibition marks the 35th anniversary of Nevelson’s unforgettable one-person exhibition at the Gibbes entitled Louise Nevelson, Sculpture. Presented in partnership with Spoleto Festival USA, the exhibition filled the museum’s Main Gallery (known today as Gallery 4) with Nevelson’s monumental works. The centerpiece was Mrs. N’s Palace, a massive sculptural installation now in the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Louise Nevelson traveled to Charleston for the exhibition and made quite an impression on museum visitors with her innovative work, insightful gallery talks, and dramatic personality.

To learn more about the fascinating life and work of Nevelson, join the Gibbes for a film screening of Nevelson: Awareness in the Fourth Dimension. Using images of the artist and extensive footage of her work, this film profiles the art—and persona—of sculptor Louise Nevelson. Through the artist’s own words and those of individuals who knew her intimately, the viewer is allowed a fresh look at the groundbreaking art that helped redefine sculpture in the twentieth century. Screenings are scheduled for Thursday, October 25 at 1pm and Wednesday, November 14 at 6pm at the Gibbes. The Gibbes is also offering curator-led tours of the exhibition on September 28 and November 1 at 2:30pm. These programs are free for Museum members and included with admission for non-members.

A Dark Place of Dreams is organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville, a cultural institute of the University of North Florida. The Gibbes presentation is made possible by the generous support of BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina, the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, the Gibbes Women’s Council, the South Carolina Arts Commission, and the City of Charleston. Additional funding is provided by Marlene Addlestone, Susan Bass and Tom Bradford, Caroline Finnerty, Barbara and Richard Hagerty, and The InterTech Group.

Published September 7, 2018

Top Image: The Order of Things, 2016, by Lauren Fensterstock (American, b. 1975); Shells, wood, mixed media, 78 x 240 x 26 inches. Image courtesy of the artist and Claire Oliver Gallery. © Lauren Fensterstock.

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