Dead Mother, Dead Cowboy Recent Sculpture
Schroeder Romero is pleased to announce an exhibition of recent sculpture by Marsha Pels. This is her third solo show with the gallery.
Dead Mother, Dead Cowboy is an exposé on desire and loss. Within this confrontational installation Pels combines the personal with the socio-political. She has juxtaposed the death of her mother against the abandonment by her partner. By transforming the gender-driven stereotypes of female/mother vs. male/lover from her own intimate specific knowledge into a more universal realm, Pels creates iconic symbols of sexual power and ironic display. By drawing psychological parallels between the two figures while still manifesting their essential qualities, a Freudian tension builds. A surreal, but historical, awareness of funerary monuments, whether it is Etruscan statuary or biker reliquary, permeates the gallery space. Pels is also making discreet associations to the public funerals of Saddam Hussein and James Brown, both of which occurred during the making of this body of work.
In the Main Gallery, a fluorescent-lit, cast crystal clear, life-size effigy of Pels’ mother cast with her mother’s personal items floats beneath a cascade of mink stoles. Driving into this figure on a deconstructed motorcycle from the opposite side of the space, her ex-lover emerges lit by halogen and blue neon lights. He is cast in silver crystal clear and black rubber from found and fabricated objects. The immutability of death, as well as a sense of arrested life are both present through the glow of two argon-mercury contextual signs hanging high on the walls. With accompanying artists’ books and prints, we are further immersed into the personal narrative of this installation.
In the Small Gallery, Pels has created Écorché; a coda to the Dead Mother part of the installation in the main gallery. She has cast her own hands in pairs of her deceased mother’s gloves and splayed them like the spine of an animal into the hide of her mother’s mink coat. The room also contains her mother’s classical piano music and bench and an original Kathe Kollwitz etching.
Similar to her 1995 installation TERRANOVA at The Sculpture Center in New York, NY and her earlier 2001 exhibition at Schroeder Romero in Brooklyn, The Hitler Vitrines, this show is woven together formally by her attention to the tactile quality of light and her ability to transform ordinary objects with metaphysical presence. Dead Mother, Dead Cowboy is a testimony to Pels’ sculptural ability to bear witness to the necessity of mourning with wit, honesty and style.
In addition to exhibiting widely in the United States and Europe Pels has received a Prix de Rome in Sculpture, a New York City Public Art Fund Grant, a Pollack-Krasner Foundation Grant and was awarded a Fulbright Senior Scholar to Germany. Her work is included in the public collections of Grounds for Sculpture, Hamilton, NJ; The Olbricht Collection, Essen, Germany; United Jewish Appeal Corporate Headquarters, New York; and the National Museum of Gabarone, Botswana, Africa. She is an Associate Professor of Sculpture at The College For Creative Studies in Detroit, MI.