Some Noble Parts
September 9 - October 30, 2022
Spencer Brownstone Gallery is pleased to announce Some Noble Parts, Sonya Blesofsky’s second solo exhibition with the gallery. Her site-responsive practice explores urban change, dealing directly with the space and neighborhood on which the work is presented. The show features new architectural sculptures and wall work that exhibit traditional and modified mold making practices.
“…for as in the human body there are some noble and beautiful parts, and some rather ignoble and disagreeable, and yet we see that those stand in very great need of these, and without them they could not subsists; so as in fabricks, there ought to be some parts considerable and honoured, and some less elegant; without which the other cou’d not remain free,” -Andrea Palladio.
Blesofsky has erected six monumental columns in the gallery. The colonnade flanks the central path, and lines up towards the courtyard. The columns follow the Doric order and appear to be in various degrees of finish. Inner structures are revealed, drips of material remain, and equally monumental blades used to carve such forms are left standing in position. A portion of gallery walls are also covered by plaster moulding in the Georgian style (commonly used in official US government buildings and later called the Federal style). Despite their scale and complete exposure of the process of their creation, the stark contrast between architectural styles of the sculpture and space is pronounced, appearing as if they were transported from a Roman atrium or Monticello. Like many urban renovations and development, Blesofsky’s creations appear to disrupt the formerly dominant architectural narrative of the space and locale.
Going back five centuries, Italian architect Andrea Palladio is receiving acclaim for his work in the Greek and Roman style. A principal element in his designs is the beautifying of architectural spaces by careful accentuation of spaces he deemed “honorable” and the concealment of rooms he regarded “indignant.” Common areas and facades are built and adorned with the precision and openness of the neoclassical style, while lavatories and servants quarters are hidden from sight with angled halls and diminished entryways.
Andrea Palladio was a major source of inspiration for the founding fathers of the U.S. who subscribed to Classical ideals and along with it, Neoclassical visual styles with regard to the nation’s federal buildings. Romantic assumption that design could evoke emotion was expanded to include the belief that architectural form expressed and influenced moral behavior, political leanings, and ethical standards.
On December 21, 2020, the president of the United States submitted an executive order mandating uniform designs for federal architecture in the Greco-Roman style. The mandate was met with strong opposition by the American Institute of Architects, who penned a letter in response stating: “The process established within the executive order is burdensome and almost impossible to meet. It requires the GSA to submit written justification, any significant expenditure, on how “such design is as beautiful and reflective of the dignity, enterprise, vigor, and the stability of the American system of self-government as alternative designs of comparable cost in a traditional architectural style.”
The unfixed, fluid nature of the city presents itself as an endless pattern of decline and growth, entropy then rejuvenation, veiling and unveiling. Through transparency of material and process, Some Noble Parts touches on the histories of styles and the motivation and intent of the powers behind them.
Sonya Blesofsky received her MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute and BA from UC Santa Cruz. She has received numerous residencies and fellowships, including Urban Glass, the Lower East Side Printshop, Museum of Arts and Design, CUE Art Foundation, Smack Mellon, Dieu Donne, MacDowell Colony, and Swedish Arts Grants Committee in Stockholm. Blesofsky’s work has been written about in Artforum, The New York Times, Brooklyn Rail, The Village Voice, San Francisco Chronicle, NYFA Current, Art Fag City, and Hand Papermaking Magazine. Born in Boston and raised in California, she currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.