Art-in-Buildings is pleased to announce two new exhibitions opening in the atrium and lobby of 125 Maiden Lane, Sara Jimenez: Hardness is Not the Absence of Emotion... and Jasmine Murrell: Ancestral Feet.
Sara Jimenez's newest installation abstracts architectures between New York City and the Philippines that have been influenced by the City Beautiful movement, an American urban-planning movement at the turn of the 20th century. The movement believed that beautiful design could inspire "moral and civic virtue," and eliminate "social ills." It heavily referenced architecture from Europe, particularly Beaux-Arts architecture, that was seen as rational, symmetrical, and ordered.
Using layers of draped fabrics to reimagine the architecture of 125 Maiden Lane, Jimenez combines imagery of Beaux-Arts architectures from spaces in Manhattan and Manila inspired by the City Beautiful movement that have histories of military presence, war, and migration. The patterns on the various fabrics reference digitized abstracted architectures from other spaces with similar histories and design origins, including The US Custom House (1901), a Dutch fort and then government building to oversee taxes on imported goods; The Army Navy Club (1898) in Manila, for US military personnel and civilians and later Filipinos, and Malacañang sa Sugbo in Cebu (1910), the former building of the Bureau of Customs, among others. The installation's form is primarily inspired by deconstructing the Dewy Arch, a temporary triumphal archway that was built in Madison Square after the Spanish-American War, when the Philippines became a colony of the US. Using the panels of fabric as fragments of these architectures, Jimenez creates a layered archway visitors can walk through and around.
The title of the show, Hardness is Not the Absence of Emotion... references a quote from Sara Ahmed's book The Cultural Politics of Emotion. In the text, Ahmed unpacks the gendered and socialized assumptions around the hierarchy between thought, reason, and emotion and their political implications – which are evident in the installation as visitors find themselves immersed in the stratified histories of these spaces Jimenez presents.
In the lobby of 125 Maiden Lane, Jasmine Murrell's installation Ancestral Feet is a living memorial to the African enslaved peoples that were forced to build lower Manhattan and whose labor and lives were the price for the city's development. Murrell pays homage to the forgotten history of the neighborhood as a site of one of the largest slave markets in the United States, reclaiming the land through her installation and giving power to these unknown voices, she says "when you see Black people you are seeing the descendants of miracles."
Flanking the lobby, the installation plants two enormous, bejeweled feet that grow up towards the ceiling and command the space. Made from clay, soil, wire, mirrors and found objects the sculptures "externally ground us in our history and memory, reflecting our now, and refracting space and time to show us our futures through our present and past" Murrell explains. "For some, the soil has many negative connections to something that needs to be cleaned or modernized instead of acknowledging that it is the giver of all life. Earthen feet are present to the deepest truths of our human existence. They connect us to what has always been true, what is most valuable, what has been lost and what must be rejuvenated and regenerated for our continued survival."
Wrapping around the feet is a mirrored snake-like figure, one of the oldest mythological symbols used by cultures around the world to represent rebirth and healing. In modern culture, the meaning has distanced itself from wisdom stores and feet that touch the earth – instead associating snakes with poison. Here, Murrell allows the viewer to decide whether the snake is healing or destroying the life and she asks "what is medicine? What is poison?" For Murrell, every day we make choices that feel small or mundane, not discerning the poison from the medicine, "the work is a reminder that no choice is small, as our actions cascade and flow into greater consequences and higher stakes."
Sara Jimenez explores the material embodiment of deep transcultural memories. As a Filipinx-Canadian artist, she is interested in materializing existing global narratives around concepts of origins and home, loss and absence. She works in installation, sculpture, collage, textiles, video and performance, to create visual metaphors that allude to mythical environments and forgotten artifacts. Jimenez received her BA from the University of Toronto and her MFA from Parsons the New School for Design. Selected exhibitions include the Pinto Art Museum, El Museo del Barrio, Rush Arts Gallery, BRIC Gallery, BronxArtSpace, FiveMyles Gallery, The Brooklyn Museum, The Bronx Museum, and Smack Mellon, among others. She has performed at numerous venues including The Dedalus Foundation, The Noguchi Museum, Jack, The Glasshouse, and Dixon Place. Selected artist residencies include Brooklyn Art Space, Wave Hill's Winter Workspace, the Bronx Museum's AIM program, Yaddo, BRICworkspace, Art Omi, Project for Empty Space, LMCC's Workspace and Bemis (upcoming). She is the recipient of the Cecily Brown Fellowship and has been listed as Smack Mellon's "Hot Picks" in 2018 and 2019. Her work was recently acquired as part of the permanent collection of the Ford Foundation Center for Social Justice. Selected awards and grants include NYFA's Canadian Women's Artist Award, as well as Canada Council for the Arts' Explore and Create Grant. sarajimenezstudio.com
Jasmine Murrell is a New York-based interdisciplinary artist born in Detroit, Michigan. She has a BFA from Parsons School of Design and an MFA from Hunter College. She employs several different mediums to create sculptures, installations, photography, performance, land art and films that blur the line between history and mythology. Her work demonstrates the unstable and shifting nature of humanity and the inherent ability of all living things to age and transform. Her works have been exhibited nationally and internationally for the past decade, in venues such as the Museum of Contemporary Art and Bronx Museum, Museum Contemporary Art Chicago , Whitney Museum, African-American Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art and International Museum of Photography and untraditional institutions.
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Image left: Sara Jimenez, detail of Hardness is Not the Absence of Emotion..., 2021. Courtesy the artist.
Image right: Jasmine Murrell, rendering for Ancestral Feet, 2021. Courtesy the artist.
Sara Jimenez Hardness is Not the Absence of Emotion... and Jasmine Murrell Ancestral Feet is curated by Tessa Ferreyros and sponsored by the Time Equities Inc. (TEI) Art-in-Buildings. TEI is committed to enriching the experience of our properties through the Art-in-Buildings Program, an innovative approach that brings contemporary art by emerging and mid-career artists to non-traditional exhibition spaces in the interest of promoting artists, expanding the audience for art, and creating a more interesting environment for our building occupants, residents, and guests.View PDF