IMAGE ABOVE: Island, Floating, by Emily Fleischer, matt board, caulk, flocking. Photo courtesy of Women & Their Work and Emily Fleischer, 2014.
Emily Fleisher’s latest exhibition Astro-Turf is a study in opposites. Utilizing the trope of suburban monotony as inspiration, Fleisher examines the polemity between interior and exterior, mundane and intangible. 11 new works, created between 2013-14, dot the gallery. The artist shifts the scale of her works dramatically–allowing intimate experiences for the viewer while engaging with several larger, installation-based works.
Immediately, “Stellar-Scope” and “If You Want to Make Pasta from Scratch” stand out from the rest of the gallery. “Stellar-Scope” includes a tiny wooden house perched on an elongated astro-turf hill with a gigantic (in relation to the house) telescope butting up to a window of the home. This is a somewhat absurd scene. But also one that is poignant when pondering the size of the galaxy in relation to our tiny planet and the role it plays among the other planets, stars, and galaxies. Installed facing a large, starry night sky, these two works together are the closest that Fleisher comes to making a scene. The rest of the works are distinct sculptures and while they relate to each other in terms of theme and material, these two works feel uniquely connected with each other.
The painting, “If You Want to Make Pasta from Scratch,” is not an outstanding painting on its own, but there is something less regimented about it than the other works. The looseness in terms of the process, one can imagine she uses pasta to create the shapes of the stars, is intriguing and is reflected on the lens of the telescope. Viewed in conjunction with “Stellar-Scope” while thinking of the artist’s suburban lifestyle, these two works come together as a centerpiece of the exhibition.
Fleisher’s sculptural work is quirky and it is precise. But while some works stand out, I yearn to be more seduced and, honestly, more frightened. “Trails off too Soon”–her generic landscape that gently leaves the frame it is confined in, feels like an empty threat as it slowly leaks toward the ground. The same happens with “Island Floating and Terraced” – the small-scale works where turf comes out of the toothpaste tube and the soap dispenser. While the social commentary of a work like Fritz Haeg’s “Attack on the Front Lawn” series disrupts conformity, Fleisher nudges, but does not get very far. I am not unsettled by these works, but I do see potential in the ideas Fleisher is contemplating.
– RACHEL ADAMS