Critics’ Picks

Claire Morgan, Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds, 2016, mixed media on paper on canvas, 55 x 89".


Claire Morgan

Frist Art Museum
919 Broadway
February 10–May 7

Claire Morgan refigures the tradition of Minimalism and post-Minimalism in the whimsical yet startlingly affecting works in her first solo exhibition in the United States. Using nylon thread to stitch together shreds of plastic, insects, small pieces of lead, butterflies, and other materials into constellations of three-dimensional geometric shapes, Morgan creates a meditative fragility out of the scraps of environmental degradation. Caught within the ghostly matrix of her sculptures are taxidermy animals, seemingly trapped by the artist’s meticulous structures. If you go down to the woods today, 2014, quietly dominates an entire gallery with its subtle forms. The wraiths of three boxlike forms emerge as the viewer walks around the work, with tiny fragments of pastel orange polythene absorbing the room’s dim lighting and producing a suffused, contemplative aura. Butterflies punctuate the exquisite web and a small taxidermy Muntjac deer stands tensely amid the gossamer threads, as if awestruck by its strange surroundings.

The show also displays a number of Morgan’s two-dimensional works. The large 2016 triptych Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds imagines ecological devastation as a quiet apocalypse playing out on the surface of a nearly blank canvas that the artist used as a preparation surface for the taxidermy process. Gestural black marks and the barest outline of a snarling, supine creature appears from the dried fluids of dead animals, succinct but messy moments of crisis in a void of white.