Nancy Cohen: Atlas of Impermanence, on view in the Main Gallery, features large-scale drawings that resemble tapestries but are made from paper pulp and handmade paper. From the artist’s ongoing series, “The Work of Time,” these monumentally scaled works are placed in dialogue with an array of small glass sculptures suspended in each of the gallery’s soaring window bays. Compelled by the fragility and strength of the natural world, Cohen has chosen materials that embody these qualities, both physically and metaphorically. She has worked with glass and handmade paper for more than 25 years, drawn to these materials and processes for their transformative qualities, their potential for translucency, and their ability to integrate structure and surface simultaneously.
The imagery in Cohen’s paper works derives from memories of particular landscapes—often waterways in industrialized New Jersey—as well as personal observations about the human struggle. She has always been concerned with survival in the face of environmental change, both personally and globally. These thoughts were amplified during the COVID-19 pandemic, as she confronted feelings about illness and death, entrapment, and escape. Perhaps in response, she created the small glass abstractions that became part of this current installation. The wing-like forms of these glass elements floating ethereally beside the weightier, more grounded drawings, convey a sense of flight or transcendence. Cohen has noted, “It is my goal that in this work, as in our own lives, elements hang in the balance, each one necessary, vulnerable, beautiful, and above all interdependent.”
A catalogue with an essay by Jennifer Scanlan and poetry by Edwin Torres will accompany this exhibition.
Nancy Cohen, The Meaning of Wings, 2020, Paper pulp and handmade paper, 82 x 69 inches.