Root Shock: Hannah Chalew | Daniela Rivera | Corinne Spencer

July 15 - October 10, 2019

Root Shock image 

The Kniznick Gallery presents Root Shock, featuring the work of Hannah Chalew, Daniela Rivera, and Corinne Spencer. The exhibition is in dialogue with research taking place at the Women’s Studies Research Center examining the concept of Cascading, or a downward spiral in women’s lives caused by the convergence of economic, environmental, and political forces. Through drawing, video, and installation, Root Shock examines three women’s responses to intersecting global challenges. Material and location become synonymous as the artists explore the literal and emotional elements that surround them.

New Orleans-based artist Hannah Chalew gathers sugarcane byproduct and discarded plastic waste to create a durable (and permanent) drawing stratum depicting a future landscape devoid of humans. In this envisioned landscape, materials commingle to create new ecosystems from our cultural detritus. Her process in these large and sprawling works incorporates a cyclical logic that turns in on itself while exposing the exploitation of people and land. Exploring the centuries’ old practices of extractive economies in Southern Louisiana, Chalew’s work surfaces the connections between petroleum, sugarcane, and the critical environmental crises that face us now.

Daniela Rivera merges specific moments in political history, the history of art and personal history to generate open-ended dialogue among the viewer, artist, and subject. In Root Shock, Rivera responds specifically to human rights abuses in her native Chile during the 70s and 80s dictatorship. Through a subtle architectural intervention in the exhibition, she draws parallels between the late disclosure of these violations in the 90s and the perpetual invisibility of domestic abuse. The singularity of Rivera’s materials becomes a guise, allowing her to address complex topics through the activation of the viewer’s senses.

Corinne Spencer constructs interior psychological spaces by staging black feminine bodies in fields, empty warehouses, and other ambiguous locations. Working in a visual language that includes installation, projection, and performance, Spencer’s work exists in shifting states of tension between violence and desire, and the mythological and the mundane. Spencer’s stoic figures operate within this territory of contradictions, remaining grounded through elasticity and strength.