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Jenkins Johnson Gallery\, New York\, is pleased to present P lunge\, a solo exhibition of recent drawings by Melissa Cooke. This will be her first solo show with Jenkins Johnson Gallery in New York. There will b e an opening reception with the artist on November 1 from 6 to 8 pm.
P lunge features new large-scale works on paper by Melissa Cooke\; her powder ed graphite drawings explore themes of beauty\, fantasy\, violence\, and id entity\, with the artist casting herself as the subject in a myriad of them atic scenarios. Her work confronts the viewer both with scale and stirring reflections of emotion\, sexuality\, and drama. Cooke’s dedication to self- portraiture stems from her creativity and her love of characters and costum es but also gives her an outlet to explore her identity and process events within her life. Each new series tackles a different set of questions and t opics while also holding fast to the questions of persona evident throughou t Cooke’s entire oeuvre.
In her new body of work\, Undertow\, the arti st has created close cropped portraits that investigate the relationship be tween photography\, performance\, and drawing. Cooke photographed herself s inking and diving in water\, and it is these images that became the basis f or her haunting and ethereal drawings. Departing from traditional portraitu re\, Cooke has zoomed in on close sections of her face\, thereby pushing th e human figure into ambiguity and abstraction. Flesh and hair intertwine wi th ripples and bubbles\, and water dissolves into brushstrokes and soft era ser marks. The water becomes a landscape. Cooke states of this new series\, “I recently moved to New York City from Wisconsin. Unaccustomed to city li ving\, I am frequently overwhelmed by the hectic environment. The bathtub h as become a respite from this chaos\, and a substitution for the calming co mfort of Midwest lakes. Commotion is muffled underwater. Submerged\, I am i n the quiet\, weightless in a space of reflection.” Her works\, typically i nspired by emotionally charged memories and relationships\, serve first as a cathartic experience\, and then as an aesthetic exaggeration of emotion. Having been compared to Cindy Sherman for her role playing and psychologica l undertones\, Cooke’s work skews reality and allows fiction to become trut h.
Cooke’s work starts with a series reference photographs that become the inspiration for her large scale intricate portraits. Images are create d by dusting thin layers of graphite onto paper with a dry brush. The soft quality of the graphite provides a smooth surface on which details can be a ugmented by erasure. No pencils are used in the work\, allowing the surface to glow without the shine of heavy pencil marks. The scale of the drawings demands an intimate and physical interaction with the work\, forcing the v iewer to confront the challenges Cooke presents.
Melissa Cooke receive d her MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has exhibited widel y throughout the United States\, including solo exhibitions at the Museum o f Wisconsin Art\, West Bend and at Madison Museum of Contemporary Art\, Mad ison\, WI\, among others. She was a 2010 and 2011 Artist-in-Residence at th e Bemis Center for Contemporary Art\, Omaha. Cooke is in the permanent coll ection of the Arkansas Museum of Art\, Little Rock\; The Howard Tullman Col lection\, Chicago\, IL\; and the Boston Public Library Print Collection\, M A\, among others. She was reviewed in ARTnews as a part of Jenkins Johnson Gallery’s On Paper exhibition.

DTEND:20130126 DTSTAMP:20140424T001811 DTSTART:20121108 GEO:40.7536854;-73.9991637 LOCATION:Jenkins Johnson Gallery - NY\,521 West 26th Street 5th Fl\nNew Yor k\, NY 10001 SEQUENCE:0 SUMMARY:Plunge\, Melissa Cooke UID:243654 END:VEVENT BEGIN:VEVENT DTEND:20121115T200000 DTSTAMP:20140424T001811 DTSTART:20121115T180000 GEO:40.7536854;-73.9991637 LOCATION:Jenkins Johnson Gallery - NY\,521 West 26th Street 5th Fl\nNew Yor k\, NY 10001 SEQUENCE:0 SUMMARY:Plunge\, Melissa Cooke UID:243783 END:VEVENT END:VCALENDAR