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NYC Series: Maria Nepomuceno at Sikkema Jenkins & Co.

Heather Boyd

Brazilian artist Maria Nepomuceno utilizes a wide range of materials including ropes, beads, ceramics, gourds, wood, woven palm straw and resin to create vibrant sculptures and installations in her show “Vital” at the Sikkema Jenkins & Co. Gallery in New York. Evocative of organic hybrid structures of the body, these forms cull from nature to create a dialogue around cultural and political themes of female bodies, growth, time and craft. The mastery of craft and technique in Nepomuceno’s work is inspired by Brazilian traditions of weaving. Nepomuceno uses these traditions as a way of “trying to hold the time with my hands so it does not go so fast.” This evokes the performative and durational nature of this traditional craft. Through the communal nature of weaving, Nepomuceno is able to form these woven and created narratives into installations.

The works in this show are indeed ‘vital,’ both as an adjective: “important, lively and full of energy” and noun: “the body’s internal organs, the gut or the genitalia.” Energy emanates from the pieces, and they seem as though they are alive or about to move and grow in ways that would be self-sufficient and nurturing. Through Nepomuceno’s use of ropes and beads that emerge from red-rimmed slits in the form’s “bodies” these hybrid organisms are interconnected. The interconnectedness of the sculptures make the work appear as if they are giving birth to each other or to the next generation of itself.

The audience witnesses these life forms in transition and growth; they feed each other, fold in on each other, and expand. In effect, these beings are pushing into their surroundings with a quiet and slow yet colorfully expressive force. Here time can be viewed as a mechanism for expansion and healing as these lifelike sculptures create their own community that appears utopic, constantly in flux, and with a capacity for unlimited transformation.