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Virginia Folkestad
Sandra Phillips Gallery, Denver, Colorado
Recommendation by Deborah Ross

Virginia Folkestad, detail from "The Five Scapes," 2019, aluminum mesh, waxed brown paper, oak twigs, waxed linen, and machine stitching. Courtesy of Sandra Phillips Gallery

Continuing through June 1, 2019

It’s immediately evident upon seeing “Mute,” with its chopped aspen limbs swathed in white cotton inside a mesh enclosure, that Virginia Folkestad is investigating the conflict between humans and nature. She infuses her site-specific installation, “… noiseless foot of time,” with (among other elements) fragments of Colorado aspen trees, a nod to her pedigree as one of the state’s most vital conceptual artists. The exhibit takes its name from a phrase of Shakespeare’s, and in that poetic spirit examines the mysterious vicissitudes of time as it relates to the natural and manmade worlds. Surprisingly, the installation’s primary materials are large scraps of aluminum mesh — cut, rolled, stitched, folded and curved in various ways as the work stretches across three walls and onto a window bench in the compact gallery space.

Folkestad sees the grid, represented in mesh, as a metaphor for both the sectioning of landscape and the measurement of time. A sculptural element that evokes the latter concept is seen on the “Suspended in Time” wall, where rolled mesh is perched six feet high and then cascades to the ground. Also on the wall are several two- to six-inch-square burnt-pine shadow boxes incorporating mesh, wire and beeswax. The boxes delicately frame cocoon shapes made from pliable Fosshape fabric. There is a suggestion of foliage, possibly moss, created from meticulously small French knots in green embroidery thread. Prompting even more intrigue are the two dozen or so fingertip-size black stones tacked horizontally across the wall, arranged to suggest a timeline. On the opposite wall, as part of “The Five Scapes,” a long, flowing sculpture of curled mesh, commands attention for its similarity to a headdress. And “Ever Changing” is a visceral take on man’s dependency on nature that includes mesh pockets filled with coal and a black rope anchored down by rusted steel cores. The presence of monotone, mundane and industrial materials, emphasize the meditative and calming qualities of the installation. The effect is that we reflect on humanity’s place in the natural world and our powerlessness over the march of time.

Sandra Phillips Gallery

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