Critics’ Picks

Jennifer Rose Sciarrino, butterfly buffet, 2020, carved alabaster 2 1/2 x 17 x 11".

Jennifer Rose Sciarrino, butterfly buffet, 2020, carved alabaster 2 1/2 x 17 x 11".


Jennifer Rose Sciarrino

Daniel Faria Gallery
188 St Helens Avenue
September 26–October 31, 2020

In Jennifer Rose Sciarrino’s solo show “for Swan,” the artist proposes a science-fiction conceit for a series of sculptures that resemble composite organisms. Cast-glass works in glimmering shades of amber, green, and blue—canary 1canary 2canary 3, and canary 4, all 2020—embody forms inspired by species of endangered lichen. These translucent, wall-mounted objects adorn the gallery’s perimeter and appear to gaze out at a grouping of carved alabaster pieces, which rest upon tidy stacks of kiln bricks in the center of the room.

The polished-and-sanded carvings—in mottled slate, cream, raspberry, and peach—resemble dewdrops, alien-head emojis, and internal organs, though not of human origin. The modestly scaled sculptures are arranged into clusters suggesting hybrid creatures in states of gestation, or even emergence. The splits, 2020, features a tongue-like slab of reddish-purple rock delicately wedged into—or perhaps growing out of—a cleaved orb of luminous white stone akin to an otherworldly seedpod. In butterfly buffet, 2020, nine smooth stones rest on and around a larger, teardrop-shaped carving. One wonders if the biomorphic objects are offerings to a nature spirit—or some unknown god of technology.

The exhibition is named in honor of Swan Er Hong, a fictional land-artist character in Kim Stanley Robinson’s 2012 sci-fi novel 2312. Sciarrino’s works—which form their own seductive narratives about speculative futures—seemingly operate in and out of time; they could be relics from a distant past or emissaries from a biotech-augmented hereafter. Whether they portend interspecies survival or life-destroying cataclysm, however, remains unknown.