About the Exhibit - Still Standing
Jeffrey Meris’ exhibit, Still Standing, on view from January 12–March 6, 2021, at White Columns Gallery, is his debut solo exhibition. For his first solo exhibit, Meris comes out of the gate swinging. This exhibit is so well executed.
The title of the exhibit, Still Standing, is from a poetry collection by the Bahamian writer, activist, and politician Michael Pintard. The exhibit features two types of works, kinetic sculptures and “large-scale, hybrid collage-sculptural works” (source).
The kinetic sculptures, titled “Now You See Me; Now You Don’t,” speak to themes of trauma and racially-based violence.
The artist cast his own hands and feet When the viewer moves the handle of the sculpture the casts of the artist’s body parts start to grind away.. the plaster falling into dust...the artist is being erased.
The collage-sculptural works on the wall are a complement to the kinetic sculpture, not only aesthetically but thematically as well. They are created from rust-stained rags that the artist used to clean his kinetic sculptures.
“If the kinetic works are centered around trauma and a sense of racially-based violence, then the paintings in ‘Still Standing’ display rituals of care, healing and cleansing these wounds.” (source)
“The resultant stretched ‘skins’ – reminiscent of animal hides – evoke myriad connections for the artist including formal and psychological associations with Junkanoo Carnival, percussion (e.g. goat skin drums), slavery, art history (i.e. gestural abstract painting), and our own visceral relationships with our bodies (i.e. flesh, blood and breath.)” (source)
Another work titled “George, My Father’s Name”, 2021, is referencing the lives of St. Sebastian, George Floyd, as well as the artist’s own father - named George.
“How can I challenge the myths constructed around race, gender, class, and sexuality using signs and symbols that have become symbolic of their existence? In the grander scheme of this discourse, what I am realizing is that the divide that geopolitical borders put on what it means to be human is fictitious, and the sooner we realize this the better off we will be to respond to real issues challenging humanity.” - Jeffrey Meris
Video of the Exhibit
To see a video walkthrough of the exhibit, skip ahead to 14:02 in the video below.
About the Artist - Jeffrey Meris
Jeffrey Meris was Born in Haiti and raised in the Bahamas. He earned an A.A in Arts and Crafts from the University of The Bahamas, a B.F.A in Sculpture from Tyler School of Art, and an M.F.A in Visual Arts from Columbia University in 2019.
“Jeffrey Meris is an artist who works across sculpture, installation, performance, and drawing to consider ecology, embodiment and various lived experiences while healing deeply personal and historical wounds.” (source)
Meris is an artist-in-residence at NXTHVN, New Haven, CT. NXTHVN (pronounced Next Haven) is cofounded by Gagosian artist Titus Kaphar, and “is a new national arts model that empowers emerging artists and curators of color through education and access” (source).
You can learn more about Jeffrey Meris’ work via his website or Instagram. I would also like to take this moment to acknowledge how great his website is. This is a WONDERFUL example of a great artist website, so if you’re an artist, take notes.