Thea Clark: The Quick and the Deep

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Thea Clark: The Quick and the Deep
Studio X
May 9 – June 29, 2014

A line of clothing pinned to the wall outside Studio X introduces Thea Clark’s exhibition, The Quick and the Deep. These clothes, once white, are now mud and water-stained, as if they have survived a flood; their stains resemble the water lines that marked the properties of Hurricane Sandy victims. By confronting us with familiar objects that have been subjected to the destructive power of extreme weather, Clark invites us to reflect on the personal, tangible effects of cataclysmic events such as hurricanes and floods. Her site-specific installation examines the influence of rapid climate change on human habitats. She explains, “By using quotidian materials that reference the domestic realm, I connect what is familiar to what is uncertain.”

In this exhibition the artist combines home building materials such as asphalt shingles, wood, cyclone fencing, foam insulation, plastic tubing and artificial turf with domestic goods including furniture, clothing, blankets and other textiles. While some of these materials directly reference the effects of extreme weather, Clark also uses them conceptually to add additional layers of meaning. While there is no actual water in the exhibition, the idea of water as a cataclysmic force permeates the gallery. Clark’s economical use of the color blue is a unifying thread that ties all of the elements together while subtly referencing water as an unseen but threatening presence.

The exhibition’s title plays off the biblical reference to “the quick and dead,” as in the last judgment of souls. Although in the biblical sense “quick” means living, here it also alludes to the swiftness with which weather can turn violent, often without warning. Similarly, the word “deep” has multiple meanings. As a noun it can mean “a vast or immeasurable extent,” but it is also a poetic term for the ocean or the sea. Among its many meanings as an adjective are several that strongly resonate with this show—“extending far down from the surface,” “full of meaning,” “dark in color,” and perhaps most appropriately, “profound.”