Someday is pleased to announce a two-person exhibition featuring new work by Rachelle Dang and Demarco Mosby.
Dang’s partially-glazed ceramic figures allude to the carved beads of a German rosary dating back to the Medieval / Early Modern period. The rosary (gifted in 1917 by American Financier J.Pierpont Morgan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where it remains on view today) is composed of eight beads, carved in great detail from ivory and gilded in silver – materials which betray the colonial extraction employed in its making. Intended to be a holy object of penance and a reminder to live virtuously, the memento mori was elementally ciphered from a savaged ecosystem via forced labor. Dang was initially drawn to the textural likeness of the ivory to that of colonial architecture built with coral in the Pacific and Caribbean. To produce these buildings, indigenous and enslaved laborers were forced to extract from living underwater reefs – free-diving, hand-chiseling and hauling massive blocks from the ocean. The first mission church in Hawai`i (where Dang was born and raised) was built with 14,000 half-ton slabs of coral quarried 10-20 ft underwater – a monument more to the diligence of physical drudgery than the deities intended to be worshiped within. Dang reiminages her ivory and coral referents in fired clay, forming portraits that emerge relief-like from earthy substrates and left purposefully obscured by molding lattice work and through her own sculpting. Conflating histories from the Medieval German rosary, Christian missions, colonial-era coral divers and the renewed controversy around deepsea mining today, Dang’s sculptures consider the nuance of determinism and causality while offering a new perspective. By breaking the chains that bind each portrait in the original rosary, Dang returns autonomy to the evoked laborers – aptly titling each figure “Diver” in their tribute.
Dang’s ceramic fragments embody an archeological quality – as if carefully excavated from the dusty compost of ecological violence depicted in Mosby’s oil paintings. His compositions expand upon the tradition of modern masters such as Goya and Bruegel the Elder to depict scenes of social unrest, infused with a latent anxiety that defines our current moment. Allusions to the mythology of Eros, revealed through bow and arrows and the recurrence of speared lovebirds, develop a sinister quality, as if warning of the violent implications of unbridled desire. Like Dang’s fractured rosary beads, Mosby’s figures are often depicted in splintered fragments. Isolated limbs float within an indeterminate environment, absorbed by the foreground in wispy brushstrokes. Their facial likeness is also obscured, cropped out of the composition or covered in ambiguous white masks, untethered to a specific geography or time period. While Mosby’s environments appear to date back to antiquity, or even Paleolithic periods, they remain indeterminate – as much a potential post-apocalyptic future as a glimpse into the past. Mosby himself often thinks and speaks of his subjects within a contemporary context – visual metaphors for the depraved repercussions of marginalization and intolerance – widely-illustrated throughout history, but lost in our present-day amnesia. In his own words: “If we do not change the way in which we engage with the most fringe and disaffected of us, we may push them into becoming the danger we fear them to be.”
Together, the works in the exhibition speak to a culture plagued by both inertia and entropy, afflicted by insatiable material desires and seeded in bad faith. This layered and densely-packed topography is punctuated by sincere moments of beauty and hope – the alchemical marvel of chromatic glaze blooming on earth in the heat of a kiln; the proud red feathers of a felled, rosy-faced lovebird; the crisp blue of a clear sky, made visible by an objective, source-providing sun. Through these contrasting propositions, the artists reimagine the memento mori not as a preoccupation with death, but a reminder of the perseverance, fragility and vitality of life.
Rachelle Dang (b. Honolulu, Hawai`i) is an artist whose work engages with the environmental legacies of colonialism. Her sculptures and interdisciplinary projects examine interwoven narratives across time and place, bringing together historical facts, botanical research, personal memories, and poetic allusion. She is Critic at the Yale School of Art, a current artist resident at the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Workspace (2022-23), and previously Artist Fellow at the Museum of Arts and Design (2022), where she was given generous support and access to facilities to produce a major new new body of work for her two-person show at Someday, New York (2022). Dang’s work has been exhibited at venues such as A.I.R., Brooklyn (2020); Cornell University, Ithaca (2022); Casey Kaplan, New York (2021); Fergus McCaffrey, St. Barth and New York (2021 & 2019); Smack Mellon, Brooklyn (2019-2020); Lesley Heller, New York (2020); Socrates Sculpture Park, Long Island City (2019); Haverford College Art Galleries, Philadelphia (2019); Hawaii Pacific University, Kaneohe (2013) and the Honolulu Museum of Art, Hawaii (2011 Biennial), among others. She lives and works in New York.
Demarco Mosby (b. 1991, Kansas City) is a New York-based painter who examines the depths of our internal-selves, using the human figure to both mirror and reveal the weight and complexity of life’s tribulations. By incorporating his symbolic vocabulary of objects like birds, ropes, rocks and landscape, Mosby creates layered narratives that visualize the complexity and disorientation of our emotional states. His paintings narrow in on an ambient anxiety to question the stability of our relationships, while also examining the internal forces that cause us to feel anxious, threatened, and isolated. Mosby received his BFA from the School of Visual Arts, New York (2014) and his MFA from Hunter CUNY, New York (2021). His work has been exhibited at venues such as Analog Diary, Beacon, NY (forthcoming, 2022); Leeann Gallery Daegu, Korea (2022); Luce Gallery, Turin (solo, 2022); Hauser & Wirth, New York (2021); Lyles & King, New York (2021) and UncleBrother, New York (2021). He lives and works in New York.