Three Parallel Worlds at No. 4 Studio

Sabrina Barrios, The Earth Experiment strings, fishing wire, UV light, dimensions variable, 2017 , Brooklyn, NY

Monica Lorraine Bernal, Heather Merckle and Sabrina Barrios, the three artists featured in Ground Control currently at No. 4 Studio through May 14, draw on physics, cosmology and symbolism to create three distinct bodies of work, which altogether pose engaging questions on the way we perceive reality.

Sabrina Barrios’ outstanding site specific installation “The Earth Experiment” consists of white strings of different thickness which are arranged in a web of geometric patterns, multiply in a mirrored backdrop and glow under ultraviolet light. Once you enter this linear maze, you are locked inside a convincing matrix which alludes to the cosmos and to the collective unconsciousness. Outside of this bubble, and totally out of our reach, floating linear hieroglyphics in a totem shape represent the forces beyond our control which are manipulating our perception. This linear totem may read as power, collective memory, or blind fate among other possible interpretations.

Sabrina Barrios, The Earth Experiment strings, fishing wire, UV light, dimensions variable, 2017 , Brooklyn, NY
Sabrina Barrios, The Earth Experiment strings, fishing wire, UV light, dimensions variable, 2017, Brooklyn, NY

By utilizing relatively simple means like string, fishing wire, mirror, and light, Barrios creates an engaging experience of a parallel universe which is both hermetic and full of possibilities, evoking a Borges parable or Plato’s cave allegory. “I use visually simple symbols (sacred geometry) to tell a story. I like to compare it to a dream, in which you can’t always verbalize your experiences, but you often remember their feeling,” says the Brazilian born, Brooklyn based multimedia artist who moved to NYC eight years ago for an MFA at Pratt. Barrios says that traveling and spending longer periods of time in places like Southeast Asia and Europe inform her work in substantial ways. “I visit places of ancient ruins, pyramids, temples, tribes, to understand the knowledge that is passed from a generation to the next. I combine ancient knowledge with conspiracy theories,” says Barrios.  She start her projects with research on quantum physics, mythology, and ancient civilizations like Mayan, Egyptian and Sumerian, along with internet pseudo news, overall aiming to create  portals which are open to alternate realities and hidden dimensions.

Heather Merckle, This has no sensible dimensions” 2017 Acrylic on canvas, plexi, ribbon, foam and paper 144” h x 78”w x 24”d
Heather Merckle, This has no sensible dimensions” 2017
Acrylic on canvas, plexi, ribbon, foam and paper
144” h x 78”w x 24”d

Heather Merckle, who lives and works in Brooklyn, is also fascinated by the intersection between art and science, posing the question what happens when you give elusive ideas such as black holes, vacuums of space, and quantum fields a physical presence. In “This has no sensible dimensions” installation, a black matte canvas acts as the background for the exploration of multi-dimensional space. Merckle imagines the curvature of space and time, questioning “how it slows and sags, gravity and its presence, black holes and surface tension.” Using materials like polyester ribbon, acrylic cut-outs, foam, and paper, she created an installation that measures hundred forty two inches high, but feels monumental in scale.

Monica Lorraine Bernal, installation view, No. 4 Studio
Monica Lorraine Bernal, installation view, No. 4 Studio

On a smaller scale and with a more surreal bent, Monica Lorraine Bernal also references in her drawings cosmology and optics through playful and imaginative forms. Her white abstracted linear marks and abstracted forms on black surface evoke a sense of a microcosmic world with an enigmatic set of rules, vast and confined simultaneously. Bernal, who was born in Bogota, raised in Los Angeles, and moved to NYC in 2009 to earn an MFA from Parsons, explains that in these drawings she envisioned invisible light, referencing our evolutionary inability to see radio, infrared, ultraviolet, X-ray, and gamma-ray. “Here, invisible light and its color spectrum is reinvented and translated into a meditative, yet energetic imagination of an unearthly existence, whether brightening up a parallel universe, teetering on a black hole, or hazily shining through a planet’s moon. And this was a response to Heather’s black holes and Sabrina’s parallel worlds,” says Bernal. Overall, “Ground Control” builds an engaging thematic show which invites the viewer to reflect on the limitation of human perception and the uplifting possibilities in creative imagination.

Ground Control is open April 14th – May 14th at No.4 Studio

Exhibition hours are Friday through Sunday 1-6pm and by appointment

No.4 Studio, 361 Stagg Street, #204

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Author: Etty Yaniv

Etty Yaniv works on her art and art writing in Brooklyn. She holds BA in Psychology and English Literature from Tel Aviv University, BFA from Parsons School of Design, and MFA from SUNY Purchase. In her installation work She is integrating mediums such as drawing, photography and painting to form three dimensional immersive environments.

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