By S. Nicole Lane
Ta Prohm Trees, Gallery 2, Nancy Lu Rosenheim
“I sat there, my heart beating fast, shaken by what had happened.
The destruction of life and the boundless mystery of the content of softness.”
Knotted hair, tornadoes, log cabins, and pig sties, are (to name a few) the nouns which Nancy Lu Rosenheim applies to her work—trees of heaven, band aids, and sticks are stated as materials and the list goes on. Oddly enough, this specific diction is incredibly appropriate.
Her pieces cascade, lump, and bulge with materials that appear like silken egg sacs amongst a forrest of psychedelia and fantasia. Rosenheim's sculptures dangle from the ceiling, backflip over one another, and ooze vertically in a synchronized chaos. When entering Swallow City, at the Hyde Park Art Center, and passing through Gallery 2, I am cautious not to touch and inch close to the pink gloss that appears jubilant and exalted in the gallery enviroment. On the contrary, this work is pissed.
Rosenheim’s pieces are not displaying a cotton-candy paradise but instead, her work is representing the revenge of an environment that is jostled, elbowed, and sifted through the perversion of humanity. Successfully, I am tricked and in a way, nature has never seemed so beautiful.
Her exhibition traverses the lobby of the HPAC and Gallery 2, which leads to the remaining building and exhibition space. Largely made from every day materials like pink insulation, plastic bags, and colorful string, the pieces are a force to be reckoned with. Several works include umbilicus-like attachments which loosely hang from the wall, while the body of the sculpture drips like sap. Rosenheim’s interest in incarnation is revealed through her inclusion of corporeal shapes; the sculptures are both giving and receiving, inside and outside is prevalent. The softness, which Abakanowicz recognizes in the body of dead frogs that she found as a child, resonatez with Rosenheim’s attention to flesh in both nature and humanity. Moreover, in “Ta Prohm Trees” include brilliant materials which build, nourish, and create our architectural world. The battle between the material and the natural is forced to converse due to their literal connection and inseparable existence. "Ta Prohm" is the modern name of a temple in Cambodia which has been left in the condition that it was found; covered with jungle surroundings and in battle with Tetrameles nudiflora, a species of plant which largely resembles Rosenheim's sculptures.
And then there are “Pods”, which line the lobby and are attached to the underside of the second floor stairs. While connecting to the physical structure and design of the material object, the pieces themselves seem less complete compared to their larger companions. While this may be the intention of the “Pods" series, I am detached from their narrative; their supple shapes appear like spawns of “Ta Prohm Trees”, although interesting, still too young to achieve any proper engrossment compared to my fascination with the larger scale sculptures.
Pods, Nancy Lu Rosenheim, Lobby Gallery
Accompanying the sculpture pieces in Swallow City, are several drawings which depict a much more sexual and serene world in nature. Phallic objects tempt birds who are in flight and nestled shapes that resemble bee hives cradle in an architectural setting. The drawings remind me of blue prints which will eventually culminate in large-scale sculptures similiar to, “Ta Prohm Trees”.
Rosenheim’s exhibition at the Hyde Park Art Center is a fresh point of view which discusses nature vs. humanity. Her decision to create playful and concentrated pieces allows viewers to feel included, interested, and invited in the ongoing conversation.