Illustrious legends, imaginative fables, and cultural lore have been comprehensive channels for a brief transcendence into a different reality or an instance in time. Stories permeate every nook and crevice of this ever-expanding universe, from little anecdotes that spark a conversation to epic legends that communicate years' worth of knowledge. Stories can be relayed around a campfire or overheard as chatter throughout the day. Stories can be recounted or recorded, classified or deconstructed, but only to comprehend the character and meaning they contain. Each tale brilliantly attracts the attention of anybody who encounters it, and while stringing words together constructs captivating narratives, designers and artists tend to push the boundaries further to express their tales. While one sits and drafts the glorious chronicles of design and invention around the world, a New York-based art and design gallery hosts sculptural tables as amusing stories foretold by their creators.
Culture Object NYC, spearheaded by Damon Crain, is currently presenting Storytellers in the Post-Style Era, a group show that runs from November 10, 2022, to January 14, 2023. The exhibition features works by Elyse Graham, Kate Rohde, Megan Enright, Rachel David, Tessa Silva, Bertrand Charlotte, Daniel Wiener, Trey Jones and Steve Shaheen, all of which sit at the intersection of art and design. Each of the exhibiting artists builds their story in the same format; not as a written note, nor an animated canvas but through the level-surfaced, floor-standing sculptures that can shapeshift as tables. “The visual cacophony of clashing imagery and disparate material within the exhibition appears chaotic but highlights the shared struggle to wrestle a material and hone a meaningful form,” says Damon Crain.
The design exhibition challenges the age-old adherence to dormant styles of design encompassing postmodern theories and offers anarchic freedom to each of the exhibiting designers to let their imaginations run wild. They formulate the amorphous plots over a coherent brief to elevate a simple table design into imaginative tales of the physical and the immaterial. For instance, American artist and designer Elyse Graham’s Metamorphosis table was created using a raw resin composite fabricated in-house and creatively named MetaMATERIAL. The concept of the table flows through the fluid colourways that formulate and fashion experimental organic patterns. Similarly, the UK-based designer Tessa Silva designs a sculptural table using her iconic milk and chalk compound. Identifying and tapping the technique from the early 1300s, Silva designs the sinuous curved table keeping the material, ‘Chalk and Cheese’ as the protagonist and weaves a sculptural piece around it. The table's bulbous shape can be interpreted as the soft feminine curves of a palm squeezing mucous material or as a stack of tectonic plates.
While Graham and Silva honour the materials for creation, the artist and sculptor Daniel Wiener creates expressive visages while primarily relying on epoxy as the construction material. Three of his sculptural tables have been on view, capturing the attention of each observer through their nearly tormented and vivid sculptural expressions. It is almost as if Wiener has captured an intense moment in time and forever fossilised it in a sculptural artwork. "These ‘embodied’ stories are perhaps didactic, definitely deductive, and certainly wonderous for their ability to flower in our minds. With the myriad forms that stories may take, telling them is unquestionably an art," adds Crain. Just as one crosses David Wiener's otherworldly designs, the storytelling surfaces of two American artists Trey Jones and Rachel David transcend from a material body to skilled techniques and idiosyncratic themes. David’s table from the Pollinator series, cross-pollinates the visual identity of the metallic table with the contrasting appeal of voguish woodwork that draws references from Art Nouveau and brutalism. Similarly, Jones’ Geode table is a marriage of a smooth wooden table base with a geodesic metal shape.Storytellers in the Post-Style Era, is on display from November 10, 2022, to January 14, 2023 at Culture Object NYC