For Keisha Prioleau-Martin, the overall body is a bearer of pleasure and contemplation. In her miniature ceramic sculptures, the Queens-centered artist captures times of tender stillness. Dancers, workers, sunbathers, and dreamers coalesce in silent reverie, populating the studio room of ArtShack in Mattress-Stuy.
As an antidote to dysmorphia and dysphoria, Prioleau-Martin performs on themes of system euphoria. Her newest exhibition, titled Tiny Gestures, decorates the storefront gallery house with 35 jovial collectible figurines, every single with its personal mode of self-expression. The artist signifies what she describes as the “inner glowing existence of people today,” uplifting self-enjoy regardless of political and economic strife.
Initially skilled as a painter, Prioleau-Martin exports her expressionist model from the canvas to the designed ecosystem, checking out the marriage concerning the flat photo airplane and three-dimensional terrain. Bodies of all styles, measurements, and colors thrive in their tiny group, organized along the gallery windows and walls. Higher than them, colourful paintings match their palettes as an homage to her primary apply.
The surfaces of shaded ceramics glisten with pastel streaks that resemble pools of rainwater on asphalt, or a rainbow. Her “Water Dancer” (2022), for instance, grips a branch as a teal wave washes more than. In the meantime, “Blue Overalls” (2022) incorporates a compact little bit of indigo paint to point out denim on a Black figure at rest. Other items, this sort of as “From Water” (2021) and “Yellow and White Painter” (2022), include a lot more monochromatic shades across their skin, drawing awareness fewer to race than to use — maybe thanks to age, trauma, or sunburn.
Prioleau-Martin’s formal experiments often participate in methods on the eye. Each individual hardened imperfection is stuffed with contrasting shades, whilst their placement prompts viewers to shift their standpoint as daylight alterations in the gallery. Rays of sunshine caress the left aspect of a disembodied deal with, which bears an expression of ecstasy more than time its shadow stretches across the table. All-around this piece, various other sunbathers grow are living vegetation from their bellies, seemingly nonchalant in their reclining positions.
Other is effective similarly interact with their environments, immersed in imaginary crowds, gardens, and dance halls. Prioleau-Martin’s have illustration beside are living foliage plucks a flower, which turns into ceramic as if by magic. Nearby, a collection of flat scenes resemble woodcuts in an decorative arrangement, with two sculpted “Art Handlers” (2022) climbing a ladder under to give the effect they installed the parts by themselves. This latter do the job is a refined nod to the artist’s labor at the Museum of Present day Artwork.
Offered current discourse all around dating apps and anti-fatness, Prioleau-Martin reminds us how heteronormative perceptions of entire body impression have long perpetuated notions of collectibility. Significantly extra crucial than a “body count” is bodily autonomy, and Little Gestures makes a huge impact. This is conveyed best in the basic, resplendent “Sitting Youth” (2022), a standalone piece that steals the exhibit. A young Black woman seems on your own and misplaced in assumed, transcending all adversity in her posture of grace. The do the job saliently encompasses the artist’s personal disposition — meditative, at peace, and flourishing.
Keisha Prioleau-Martin: Small Gestures carries on at ArtShack (1131 Bedford Avenue, Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn) through May 19. The exhibition was arranged by the gallery.