Review of "Shag Rug 165,000"
at the Islip Art Museum, East Islip, NY
New York Times Review
"Accumulations" October 13, 2002
by Helen A. Harrison
"Shag Rug 165,000," above, made of chenille stems, by Devorah Sperber

The obsessive collection of things, whether objects, images or ideas, is the common practice of 11 artists whose work is featured here. But their collecting is not simply an end in itself. In the words of the show's curator, Karen Shaw, "the elements are merely the building blocks for something so much more meaningful."

In a few pieces, repetition of very similar components creates the kind of subtle rhythmic variations one finds in Philip Glass's music. Herman Costa, for example, arranges strips of photographs taken in public photo booths to establish a grid structure for compositions that evolve from frame to frame. Some, like his bowl-and-drapery still life, are static to the point of inertia, until one studies the small variations of light that sensuously articulate the objects in space.

Transformation is the primary strategy for several of the artists, including Tim Thyzel, who has cast bleach bottles in plaster and cluctered them to resemble crystal formations. His plaster casts of dust masks, like Mr. Costa's photographs, are all the same yet different, in the way fingerprints resemble each other but are in fact unique. What appear to be barnacles in Elise D'Arrigo's drawings are collaged layers of ink-stained paper, with the buildup of translucent surfaces resulting in almost three-dimensional effects.

Perhaps the most remarkable amalgam of repetition and transformation is Devorah Sperber's "Shag Rug 165,000," a full size recreation in pipe cleaners of Jackson Pollock's "Autumn Rhythm." The synthetic colors, identical textures and uniform size ofthe 165,000 pieces of wired chenille are obvious. But viewed in a convex mirror mounted in a strategic position, the rug becomes a convincing image (albeit in reverse) of Pollock's painting, like a slide projected backwards. Ms. Sperber has simulated Pollock's spontaneous energy. -Helen Harrison, October 13, 2002.

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