Join us for a panel conversation on Prima Materia: The Periodic Table in Contemporary Art with exhibiting artists Rachel Berwick, Myra Mimlitsch-Gray, and Winston Roeth, moderated by the exhibition’s curator Richard Klein.
The conversation will focus on the three artist’s lifelong engagement with specific materials and how their chosen materials aren’t neutral vehicles, but rather filled with content in and of themselves. The evolution of civilization has been defined by humankind’s understanding and use of elements and elemental compounds, and this evolution in many cases has been driven forward by the knowledge that artists have contributed through their work.
This program will take place in-person at The Aldrich and will be followed by an audience Q&A.
Rachel Berwick’s multi-media installations examine the threshold between nature and culture as a means of exploring themes of extinction and loss, and our inevitable desire to recover what is lost. She has had five solo exhibitions in New York—“Lonesome George,” at Sikkema Jenkins in NYC was also included in “Becoming Animal” at Mass MoCA. Her installation, “Zugunruhe” was exhibited at Brown University and The Smithsonian American Art Museum.
For over twenty years, she has developed and maintained a work titled “may-por-é,” in which live parrots she trained to speak, Maypuré, an extinct indigenous South American language, live in a sculptural aviary, exhibited at venues such as The Serpentine Gallery, London, the 7th International Istanbul Bienal, and the 26th Bienal de São Paolo.
Berwick received a Robert Rauschenberg Residency, a Joan Mitchell Foundation Fellowship, and a Smithsonian Artists’ Research Fellowship where she first began working on bird migration and structural color in the project titled, “Blue,” a series of sculptural works that she continues to develop today. Berwick’s exploration of structural color has expanded to include Gold Ruby Red, the Ruby Throated Hummingbird, and the stories hummingbirds carry with them through time and space.
Myra Mimlitsch-Gray (b. 1962) explores craft as subject and object, engaging the field’s history and methods to interpret utility and form. She conceptualizes material conditions to construct fictions and portraits. Facture is explored as an idea and then realized as an image; this research is reflected in the objects she generates.
Mimlitsch-Gray received her MFA in Metalsmithing from Cranbrook Academy of Art. An American Craft Council Fellow, she was recently named Master of the Medium by the James Renwick Alliance. As professor she received two Chancellor’s Awards from the State University of New York: Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities, and Excellence in Teaching. Mimlitsch-Gray has been awarded individual artist fellowships by the United States Artists Foundation, the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the New York Foundation for the Arts. Artist Residencies include: The Banff Centre, Alberta; Haystack Open Studios; Konstfack University, Stockholm; The MacDowell Colony; and the Arts/Industry Residency in Foundry at the Kohler Co., through the John Michael Kohler Arts Center.
Mimlitsch-Gray’s work is widely exhibited and is on view in Parall(elles): A History of Women in Design at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, and Prima Materia: the Periodic Table in Contemporary Art, at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum. Other recent exhibitions include: Crafting America, at Crystal Bridges Museum of Art, and EXACTLY: precision and process, at Pamela Salisbury Gallery, Hudson NY. Mimlitsch-Gray is a contributing essayist to the exhibition catalogue, This Present Moment: Crafting a Better World, published by the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution. Her work is included in public collections of the Smithsonian Institution, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Arts and Design, and the Victoria and Albert Museum, and Yale University Art Gallery, among others. She maintains a studio in the Hudson Valley of New York.
Winston Roeth splits his time between Maine and Beacon, NY. The phenomenology of color, light, and space represent central issues in his painting practice. Following years of research exploring light and color on material surfaces, he has developed the core of his technique. Making use of a brush, he applies layer upon layer of pure pigments mixed with water and polyurethane dispersion to slowly and extensively explore the surface. He strives to find color saturations that turn the pigments into the light.
He has exhibited widely and his work can be found in numerous important collections, including the Museum Wiesbaden, Germany; PEAC Museum, Germany; The Albright Knox Art Gallery, USA; Colby College Museum of Art, USA; the Museum of Modern Art, NY, USA and the celebrated Panza Collection where his paintings form a site-specific installation in one of the gilded and paneled rooms of the C17th Palazzo Ducale in Sassuolo, Italy. Recent solo exhibitions include Speed of Light, Museum Weisbaden, Germany - an exhibition that surveyed 30 years of work, Portrait without a face; Galerie Vera Munro, Germany; Ingleby Gallery, United Kingdom; Fox Jensen McCrory Gallery, New Zealand; Benesse House Museum, Naoshima Island, Japan; Fox Jensen Gallery, Sydney, Australia; and Galerie Christian Lethert, Cologne, Germany.
Richard Klein is a Connecticut-based artist, independent curator and writer. As an artist, he has exhibited widely, including the Neuberger Museum of Art at SUNY Purchase; Caren Golden Fine Art, New York; the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan, WI; Hales Gallery, London; Gavlak Gallery, Palm Beach, FL; deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Lincoln, MA, Artspace, New Haven, CT, The Portland Institute of Contemporary Art (PICA), Portland, OR; Schoolhouse Gallery, Provincetown, MA, Stephan Stoyanov Gallery, NY; Katonah Museum of Art, Katonah, NY; Brattleboro Museum and Art Center, Brattleboro, VT; Ortega y Gasset Projects, Brooklyn, NY; Exhibit by Alberson Tulsa, OK; and Incident Report/Flow Chart Foundation, Hudson, NY. In 2021 he mounted two solo exhibitions: The Understory at ICEHOUSE Project Space in Sharon, CT, and Richard Klein - New Works at Kenise Barnes Fine Art in Kent, CT. Reviews of his work have appeared in Two Coats of Paint, Whitehot Magazine, The New York Times, Sculpture Magazine, Art in America, and The New Yorker.
From 1999 to 2022 he was Exhibitions Director of The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, Connecticut. In his more than two-decade long career as a curator he has organized over 80 exhibitions, including solo shows of the work of Janine Antoni, Sol LeWitt, Mark Dion, Roy Lichtenstein, Hank Willis Thomas, Brad Kahlhamer, Kim Jones, Jack Whitten, Jessica Stockholder, Tom Sachs, and Elana Herzog. Major curatorial projects at The Aldrich have included Fred Wilson: Black Like Me (2006), No Reservations: Native American History and Culture in Contemporary Art (2006), Elizabeth Peyton: Portrait of an Artist (2008),Shimon Attie: MetroPAL.IS. (2011), Michael Joo: Drift (2014), Kay Rosen: H Is for House (2017), Weather Report (2019), Hugo McCloud: from where I stand (2021), and Duane Slick: The Coyote Makes the Sunset Better (2022). He is returning in 2023 to The Aldrich as a guest curator to organize the group exhibition Prima Materia: The Periodic Table in Contemporary Art.
His essays on art and culture have appeared in Cabinet magazine and have been included in books published by Gregory R. Miller & Co., Damiani, Picturebox, Ridinghouse, Hatje Cantz, and the University of Chicago Press, among others.
Top image: Prima Materia: The Periodic Table in Contemporary Art (installation view), The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, February 5 to August 27, 2023. Photo: Jason Mandella