The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 United States Sunday, August 18, 2019

Flip: Rachel Beach and Nora Herting

BROOKLYN, NY.-Who rocks the house? Like the Spice rocks the house and when Like the Spice rocks the house, they rock it all the way down. Like the Spice is pleased to present the work of two artists working with ambiguity. Rachel Beach creates wall-mounted sculptures that burst the boundaries between real and illusory visual perception. Nora Herting’s flocked photographs rest in the space between truth and fiction, celebration and expose. Any attempt to resolve the contradictions in these artist’s work rests on shaky ground.

We take in an overload of sensory information and process most of it automatically, we rely on neurological and linguistic shortcuts for almost everything. Enter the finely crafted work of Rachel Beach with its shortcut short circuitry tripping up our tidy perception. Each of her sculpture/paintings is designed to collide our visual perception of three-dimensional form with our perception of the illusory space created by the pieces’ painted and veneered skins. These visual acrobatics are more than Jedi mind tricks though. The perceptual flip-flops these works create sensitize us to our flawed biological circuitry; we know our brain is being hacked but remain powerless to see what is right in front of us. Usually we rely on the logic of “seeing is believing” but when viewing Rachel Beach’s work we can do neither.

Nora Herting’s Spirit series is also premised upon a meticulously controlled presentation of space but the performative space is transformed into social allegory. Based on photographs taken during cheerleading competitions, these works conflate distinctions between documentary and fantasy, public and private space as well as the viewer and creator. These photographs are unmanipulated documents of the performers they depict; each tableau was created in real time as part of a routine.

Removing the backgrounds and therefore the context both introduces ambiguity and an extreme focus on the cheerleaders themselves. The girl’s expressions of fierce determination and practiced smiles become archetypical. Placed in front of colorfully flocked backgrounds patterned with hybrid cheerleading-floral motifs the subjects become stand-ins for their competitive, athletic and stage-managed worlds. These photographs straddle the genres of sports documentary and social portraiture. Both staged and candid, real and constructed the cheerleaders are both specimens from another world and symbols of it simultaneously.

Born in Canada in 1975, Rachel Beach received her BFA from NSCAD University in 1998 and her MFA from Yale University in 2001. Rachel has shown her work across both the USA and Canada. She is a past recipient of the Ontario Arts Council Exhibition Grant and the Canada Council for the Arts Production Grant and was a 2007 nominee for the Louis Comfort Tiffany Emerging Artist Grants. In the past, Like the Spice presented Rachel’s work as part of Deer Art: Animal Imagery in Contemporary Art and was pleased to represent her work at the Fountain Miami Fair in December 2007.

Nora Herting received her BFA from the University of New Mexico in 1999 and her MFA from Ohio State University in 2005. Nora has showed her photographs, installations and performance works across the country and internationally. She was an artist in residence at the McColl Center for the Visual Arts and was a winner of the Vermont Studio Artist Scholarship both in 2007. This is Nora’s first show at Like the Spice.

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