Statement from Curator Mardee Goff:
The first solo museum exhibition of sculptor and installation artist Martha Russo, coalescere, Latin for “come together,” highlights work created over the course of the artist’s career as well as a series of new works and large-scale, site-specific installations.
Russo’s primary medium is clay, but she is far from a traditional ceramic artist. Her organic, abstract creations push the boundaries of clay, shattering expectations and denying the realities of their heavy and fragile medium. At times anatomical, cellular, botanical, oceanic, or completely fantastical, her forms draw on an encyclopedia of sources and processes.
As an undergraduate, Russo studied developmental biology and psychology. Since then, she has spent decades subverting natural laws and defying scientific certainties through artistic invention. Gravity acts as a counter-medium in her work. Order and crisp typology are mixed with wild abundance and occasional chaos.
With an awareness of the psychology of space, Russo plays with our mind’s ability to react to certain scales and realities. Each element is carefully and uniquely produced by the artist’s hand and amassed into a body that draws us in for closer inspection. Both self-portrait and scientific discovery, her creations span 25 years of intense and exacting labor. Moving through coalescere, we encounter work both unsettlingly alien and achingly familiar. Her work echoes in our bones and guts, and we become another member of the accumulated specimens crawling around the room. It is a dreamscape, petri dish, and archive, and we are invited to explore.