571 Projects in collaboration with Fair Folks and a Goat is pleased to announce ...from on High, a solo exhibition of new bas relief sculpture by artist Jedediah Morfit, curated by Sophie Bréchu-West. The opening reception will take place on Thursday October 10, 7-9pm at Fair Folks and a Goat, 96 West Houston Street in Manhattan.
In this exhibition, sculptor Jedediah Morfit continues his exploration and subversion of the decorative arts, this time delivering images of late-Gothic Christian saints juxtaposed with contemporary Afghans, sculpted in low relief on white plaster dinner plates. Using the decorative and stylized as a foil, Morfit creates small, masterfully executed scenes. He draws the viewer in through falsely innocuous beauty, and once we take in the full extent of the Breughal-like mayhem it is too late: we cannot revert to seeing these works as solely delightful objects, though their subjects become alluring. The artist knowingly employs the formal and reassuringly familiar shape of a dinner plate, which, together with the refinement of his execution, render his potent works seductively palatable. These vessels that we associate with nourishment and gustatory delight instead serve up harsh visions, much like dangerous cautionary tales.
Channeled into his artistic practice, Morfit's world view is full of anxiety and spiritual dread, overwhelmed by the inherent chaos, violence and greed of mankind. Here the ancient strife between Christianity and Islam, passed through the artist's clean decorative filter, plays out against backgrounds that refer to the Annunciation - or to explosions in warfare. Out of the Frying Pan into the Fire (Hi-Contrast Re-Mix #3) (2013, plaster, 11 in. diameter) demonstrates this mortal unease, as the tiny, naked and blindfolded figure of a man is flung towards the jaws of a ferocious, stylized beast breathing fire, a cloud of black smoke smothering the many writhing nude figures trapped in its lower jaw. This is not a safe and happy view of the world: everything is not, nor will it be, alright.
In his contemporary use of bas relief, Morfit calls on the most ancient form of sculpture, found across the globe from prehistoric caves to Greek and Roman friezes, and beyond, often used to narrate earthly human experiences: conquests, wars, rulers; and in churches to give dimensionality to the spiritual realm: saints, angels and their meetings with the mundane. That these meetings between the physical and spiritual worlds here are a mash up of eras (gothic versus contemporary) and of cultures (Christian versus Afghani) is extraordinarily purposeful. The title of the exhibition, ...from on High alludes to a sense of fatalism: what fate will be meted out to mankind? Grace or an apocalypse all or our own making?
Morfit received his MFA at Rhode Island School of Design in 2005, and recently was the recipient of the Dexter Jones Award from the National Sculpture Society, in both 2011 and 2012. He has juist complete a commission for "Artlantic," an installation in Atlantic City curated by Lance Fung. His work has been exhibited widely, most recently, Flat as Hell at the Philadelphia Sculpture Gym (Philadelphia, PA, August 2013, solo show); Jewels and Treasures (Main Line Art Center, Haverford, PA, 2013); Freak Antique (Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts, 2012); New Jersey State Council for the Arts Fellowship Exhibition (Noyes Museum, Oceanville, NY, 2012); Beyond Rodin (Rye Art Center, Rye, NY, 2012); and Past is Present (The Columbus Museum, Columbus, GA, 2012). Morfit lives and works in New Jersey, and is Associate Professor of Art at The Richard Stockton College.