Critics’ Picks


Kori Newkirk

James Van Damme Gallery

June 7–July 13, 2002

On the ground floor of the James Van Damme gallery, Kori Newkirk has installed three landscapes made with colored beads strung on artificial hair. Ranging from gray to blue by way of pale green—and by choice of banal subject, for instance, a tree or a large wheel—they manage to evoke the sweet, melancholy atmosphere of a summer evening. On the first floor, however, the reference to summer is expanded to signify a specific social milieu by juxtaposing and combining the basketball net and the reference to braided hair. These same beads hanging down to the floor from a basketball net recall not only the use of beads in hair braiding but also, by extension, African American culture as a whole. Further on, a silvery beaded curtain is cut like a fringe, allowing a glimpse of the silhouette of buildings in an American urban center. Two collages show a series of basketballs of different sizes and colors linked to one another to form the molecules of a fictional strand of DNA. These, too, confirm the elegant way Newkirk has of redirecting and rerouting clichés associated with African American culture and transforming them, with humor and clarity, into aesthetic tools.