This will be the artist’s first solo exhibition with the gallery and in New York City. The exhibition includes an installation of sculptures rendered in paper, hot glue and acrylic paint, as well as numerous works on paper. The artist will be in attendance for an opening reception on Thursday, October 15, 2015.
For There’s No Place Like Home, Black presents a handmade recreation of a room with distinct characteristics of a home—chairs, stacks of books, flowers, a newspaper, a hat and bag rack, to name a few items. Yet the installation is not a mere replica of a domestic space, but rather a collection of possessions from the artist’s past and present, and fictitious objects born out of her desires. Each object in the installation has particular significance to the artist, and combined, the items build a complex visual autobiography of Black’s personal experiences, revealing a keyhole glimpse into the artist’s identity. This act of recreating each object by hand allows the artist to deconstruct and code her identities as a daughter, a lesbian, an artist, a mother, and a fan of pop culture, integrating these into her compositions. Black explains, “I have always been interested in looking back at what has influenced me and how I came to be who I am now. I guess instead of looking out I am looking in. I think by that it made sense to make the show become an installation of a room.”
In Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret; the viewer is introduced to a handmade paper and acrylic replica of Judy Blume’s coming of age novel as a reference to Black’s memories of adolescence. Other books the artist has recreated include Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own and Ann Bannon’s lesbian pulp fiction novel Odd Girl Out, both read and appreciated by the artist. Another work of particular importance to Black is Marriage, referencing the Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage equality. Together, the works build a sincere impression and a sense of the artist’s social and political values.
Although many pieces carry a serious tone, the artist equally balances this with her sense of humor. Also included in the exhibition are a series of tongue-in-cheek works on paper of erotic lesbian book covers with titles such as I am a Lesbian, Two Way Temptress, and Venus of Lesbos. In The Hand You’re Dealt, Black carefully arranges a house of cards, with each card revealing a different image. The artist explains, “I want to say they are like life; dealing with what you get dealt and balancing that out.”
Other works in the installation are entirely fictitious and explore the artist’s desires. For Sunday, Black constructs an imaginary Vivienne Westwood trunk and Hermés tea set, while Oh Lord Won’t You Buy Me a Mercedes Benz includes a stack of designer wallets and an Hermés gift wrapped box. By recreating these objects, the artist fulfills a certain fantasy. Simultaneously, the brushstrokes and loving care poured into the creation of the pieces create a sense of ownership. Although there’s no sight of the flesh and blood Libby Black, it’s hard to ignore a feeling of recognition and familiarity as we share special moments from her past, present, and the things she holds dear.
Born in 1976, Toledo, Ohio, Libby Black received her BFA from the Cleveland Institute of Art and her MFA from the California College of the Arts. Selected solo exhibitions include Nothing Lasts Forever (2012), Be Here Now (2010), both at Marx & Zavaterro, San Francisco, CA; Timeless (2009) at Charlie James Gallery, Los Angeles, CA; The Past is Never Where You Think You Left It (2007), Caught Up In The Moment (2005), both at Heather Marx Gallery, San Francisco, CA, and Louis Vuitton (2003) at Manolo Garcia Gallery, San Francisco, CA. Selected Group Exhibitions include Summer Mixer (2015) at Joshua Liner Gallery, New York, NY; Faux Real (2013) at Laguna Art Museum, Laguna Beach, CA; Cut, Drawn, Painted: Works on Paper (2012) at Margaret Thatcher Projects, New York, NY; New Image Sculpture (2011) at McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, TX; New Art for a New Century: Contemporary Acquisitions 2000–2010 at Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, CA; Artist of Invention: A Century of CCA (2007) at Oakland Museum of California, CA; Bay Area Now 4 (2005) at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, CA, and The Superfly Effect (2005) at Jersey City Museum, Jersey City, NJ. Public collections include Orange County Museum of Art, CA, Oakland Museum of California, CA, The Beth Rudin DeWoody Collection, NY, The Chaney Family Collection, TX, The Annette Bollag-Rothschild Collection, Switzerland, The West Collection, PA, and Fidelity Investments Corporate Contemporary Art Collection, MA.