The in-between. The rusted hinge. The gap in the sidewalk that swallows your shoe. The shedding of concrete from decaying plywood. The stutter between words. Faultlines. Crossroads. The sinew that connects these things, through uncanny geometry, at human scale and OSHA standard. The camouflage of no commitment, whose function is to publicly declare the camouflage sheathing everything else. The art object that plays well with others characterizes the dilemma of a proud impostor.
In Fickle Ground, Sarah Tortora will present a body of sculptural works, both freestanding and on the wall, which features the particular lexicons of equestrian monuments alongside those of institutionalized Modern sculpture. Commemorative monuments always designate a specific event, feature a specific identity, in a specific location. This type of crafted form thus becomes an attempted signifier for a resolute identity or account of history. Inversely, the institutionalized display of Modern sculpture does not possess this site-specificity. The pedestal, if not an integral part of the work, becomes a tactical mediator between the object of desire and the exhibition environment. The works presented here, culled from common construction materials, speak to the ways in which archetypal structures become embedded in intuitive notions and motions of place-making and artistic production.
Tortora's large, freestanding sculpture The Transplantable suggest the anxious, transient, intertwining legs of a horse galloping without a rider- taken one step further, without a body nor head of its own- and solidifying into its own pedestal, its own historical afterimage. The materials selected for the construction of these pieces reveal another archetypal resemblance: to that of a Trojan horse. This piece encapsulates many of the ideas of shifting identity, sociological archetypes, and self-referential sites of projection that function as a keystone for the direction of her current work. Several large, in-the-round sculptures are footnoted by smaller wall pieces
that resemble a prototypical “alphabet”, and further serve to construct a lexigraphy of sculptural form while maintaining a direct physical correspondence to the audience. The very sharp and graphic “facades” of these sculptural works, which visually beckon and subsequently surprise when experienced in the round will acknowledge the architecture of the gallery as a conceptually charged display mechanism that refers back to the primary tenets of this series. The work in Fickle Ground strives to objectify the threshold that exists between subject and direct object; to build that which simultaneously belongs to both and neither. Tortora is interested in the void as artifact; in the negative space between Andromeda and the rock; and the unspoken syntax that governs our desire for the world.
Sarah Tortora currently lives and works in Vermont. A participant at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine, she also holds an MFA in Interdisciplinary Fine Art from the University of Pennsylvania. She earned her BS in Studio Art from Southern Connecticut State University in 2011. She was an Artist in Residence at the MacDowell Colony in 2014 and at the Webb School of Knoxville in Tennessee in early 2016.
Tortora has had solo shows in New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Tennessee. Her work has been shown at the Marin Museum of Contemporary Art, The Whitney Houston Biennial 2, Five Points Gallery in Connecticut, and The Boston Sculptors Gallery. She was awarded an Assets for Artists Grant through MASS MoCA & ArtHome in 2014, and is currently the 2015-2016 Alice C. Cole 1942 Fellow in Studio Art through Wellesley College. Her work was recently published in Take Magazine.