Inspired by Jack Kerouac, The Simpsons, and Mini Markets, Stefana McClure Tackles the Divide Between Word and Image

  • Installation view of “Stefana McClure: The Siege of Flying Mermaids” at Josée Bienvenu, New York. Courtesy of Josée Bienvenu and the artist.

In her current solo show, “The Siege of the Flying Mermaids” at Josée Bienvenu Gallery, Stefana McClure continues to investigate the connections between image, text, and the dissemination and consumption of information, largely through works that use paper in unusual ways. Born in Northern Ireland and now based in New York City, McClure spent time in Japan studying paper making, which is reflected in her art. 

For the past 15 years, McClure has been working on a series inspired in part by watching subtitled movies and TV shows in Japan. Crepes of Wrath, from “The Simpsons: The Complete First Season” (2014-2015), is a continuation of this project. McClure made these works—in familiar Simpsons yellow—by superimposing every subtitle of the entire season onto two lines on the same page. Tracing directly from her laptop screen, the artist takes something tender and mysterious from a relatively alienated medium. “I have always been fascinated by the gray area that exists between languages and cultures, and so was naturally drawn to discrepancies in translation,” she has said

Much of McClure’s practice involves using processes more often applied to textiles than paper. McClure has also created a series of finely woven paper objects reminiscent of wall tapestries. To create this series, the artist cut up classic comics into strips—Captain America, Wonder Woman, The Adventures of Tin-Tin—and pieced them back together, weaving alternate storylines that are barely perceptible. The show also contains an installation in the gallery’s project room, Mini Market, for which the artist color-coded corporate packaging in red and green, punching tiny holes in the packaging in a reference to the Ishihara color-blind tests. Finally, the show includes several of the artist’s balls of string—Jack Kerouac books cut into strips of paper and then reassembled into balls.

—M. Osberg

The Siege of Flying Mermaids” is on view at Josée Bienvenu, New York, Nov. 12–Jan. 9, 2016.

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