Iviva Olenick

Totems and Talismans: 2014

Totems & Talismans: Transmuting the Sacred

October–November 2014 at The Brooklyn Cottage

Works by Nicola Ginzel, Jack Henry & Ian Trask

Nicola Ginzel’s Daughter-Mother sculpture from molds of her own and her mother’s legs, cast into dirt with James Croak, 2014. Executed for Totems & Talismans. Photograph by Vincent Romaniello
Ian Trask, Worm. Pictured in performance; installed inside and outside The Brooklyn Cottage for Totems & Talismans.
Jack Henry. Growth.

Co-curated by Iviva Olenick and Jenny Douglas

Totems & Talismans opens Wednesday, 10/29 from 7-9pm at The Brooklyn Cottage, Brooklyn, NY, not far from the Brooklyn Museum.

The thinking that sparked this show:

The artists in Totems & Talismans re-contextualize detritus, relics, antiques and cast offs, creating cascading, towering and sprawling totems (the assemblage installations and sculpture of Ian Trask and Jack Henry), and manicured, precious and precarious talismans (the relics of Nicola Ginzel). All are inspired by materials–discount store treasures; newspaper and cardboard; remnants from family members and neighbors; antique textiles. From these byproducts of our daily lives and American and international industry, they tell stories, transform gardens and indoor spaces, and preserve and share their unique visions of what’s sacred. Questioning commonly-held assumptions of inutility, these artists’ eyes behold beauty where others see ugliness. Their desire to collect and preserve supersedes the instinct to throw away.

Installed inside and in the backyard of The Brooklyn Cottage, Totems & Talismans invites you to walk into, around and through these artists’ trash and treasures, dirty laundry and dark corners. The artists invite the weather and elements of chance to interact with the backyard-installed work, upsetting their fabricated sense of order through external winds and forces.

Totems & Talismans will be on view through Sunday, November 2nd.
Gallery hours:
Wednesday 10/29 and Thursday 10/30, 7-9pm 
Saturday 11/1, 1-4pm
Sunday 11/2, 4-7pm
Additional hours by appointment.

More about the artists:

In fabricating site specific works for the Brooklyn Cottage, Ian Trask played with the Cottage’s domesticity, interacting with the existing architecture, responding to the utility of certain rooms, and playing with phobias associated with specific spaces. According to Ian, “when we allow our imaginations to run wild, even familiar spaces can become mysterious or threatening. A foray in the garden might trigger fantastic thoughts about the wildness of the outdoors. Even from the safe embrace of our own bedrooms, we can conjure up thoughts of threats lurking underneath the bed.”

Using found objects as compositional elements along with plaster, cement and acrylic paint, Jack Henry makes neo-artifacts, compelling viewers to notice the banal, often unconsidered byproducts of industry that inform our visual understanding of the landscape, especially urban environments. According to Jack, the virgin American wilderness no longer exists. In our “new wilderness,” elements of human intervention cohabit with nature. While it would be easy to criticize or even condemn American industry, the intersection of man and nature can be beautiful. Jack attempts to distill this beauty by creating works that exist between new and old, painting and sculpture, natural and manmade, and eye-pleasing and ugly.

Nicola Ginzel’s work is about transformation. Through her body related artwork, the artist tries to correct the patterns we have created in our environment that challenge our experience towards individual wholeness. In the Kneecap Series, Nicola selects personal emotionally charged (found) objects and “lets them go” by transforming them in an attempt to heal herself. Some objects are completely obscured in plaster while others are partly visible, using a variety of materials. All appear as patella–like forms.  

The idea for the piece, Daughter–Mother, was first conceived in 2010 when the artist and her mother simultaneously had issues walking. With the intention to convey the psychic and physical interconnectedness, Nicola made a mold of her bad leg and her mother’s. The leg molds were cast into dirt with James Croak in 2014. 

Ian Trask. Site-specific book tower installation at The Brooklyn Cottage. Photo by Vincent Romaniello.
Co-curators, Iviva Olenick and Jenny Douglas in front of Ian Trask’s Book Tower installation.
Nicola Ginzel, Knee Cap Drawer No. 1
Jack Henry’s unconventional “painting” at The Brooklyn Cottage.