New York

Ann Healy

Although involved with the effects of light and gravity, Ann Healy’s art focuses on the object in the creation of clearly present images. Her recent work consists of transparent silk gathered on metal rods and then allowed to fall in accordance with gravity’s pull. In general, the rods are arranged in simple geometric configurations—combining the design shapes characteristic of her outdoor sailcloth hangings with the free-falling folds of her large dramatic drapes. These new works are less overtly theatrical, more lyrical, than the previous draped forms, due to the soft folds and the transparent material, through which one sees shadows reflected on the wall. Like other artists working with “new” materials, Healy falls into the trap of reworking old images. This is true of two rectangular pieces which relate too easily to an established painting vocabulary—especially given the painterly quality of the transparent silk, the essentially flat surface of the fabric and the “drawing” of the reflections on the wall. Another problem is the arbitrary choice of colored material which tends to overemphasize the decorative aspects of the work.

Only one of the pieces, Motet, is freestanding. This ten-sided, vase-shaped object, clothed in royal blue silk, surrounds itself with webs of blue lines reflected off the folds. However, the lighting in the gallery and the blond floor diminish the environmental effect, and the piece reads more as a decorative object. In this respect a wall piece like Georgia is more successful. In this large, eight-sided configuration the folds themselves read as lines against the wall, echoed by their shadows, creating the effect of a spidery, gossamer web—an effect which is reinforced by the shape of the piece. The whole suggests a possible resolution between the somewhat conflicting tendencies in Healy’s art toward a strongly defined image and an environmental ambience.

Susan Heinemann