NEW ORLEANS, LA.-
This spring, from now through May 24, the New Orleans Museum of Art
presents A Discourse in Abstraction: Jennifer Odem and NOMAs Permanent Collection, an exhibition of new sculpture by the New Orleansbased artist juxtaposed with modern and contemporary works from the permanent collection.
A Discourse in Abstraction is the first in a series of exhibitions dedicated to highlighting Louisiana contemporary art. Situated in dialogue with abstract paintings from NOMAs permanent collection, Odems works position themselves at the crossroads between monumentality and playfulness. Combining materials such as Hydro-stone with flocking fiber, Odems sculptures walk the line between extreme contrasts.
In her artist statement, Odem explains: The idea of vulnerability as strength underlies my investigation of forms and materials. The industrialization of organic material inverts characteristics of stability and fragility. Seemingly delicate sculptures made from strong, durable materials expose a gap that exists between the permanent and impermanent, the feminine and masculine, the natural and artificial. Subverted meanings, humor, and absurdity all play a role in my portrayals of gender issues, human relationships, and our connection to the land, while the interplay between contradictory and exaggerated forms allows me to question social traditions and belief systems.
Often returning to the shape of mounds in her work, Odems sculptures emphasize the idea of an interior and exterior space. In the case of Bluebell, Myrrh, and Salt Mound, she describes the mounds as having a vessel-like, feminine quality, despite their overall phallic shape. Her freestanding curtain, Drape, similarly creates an architectural interior by partially enclosing space inside its crescent shape.
Based in New Orleans, Odem has exhibited her work both locally and abroad. Her 2008 and 2009 exhibitions include a solo show at 511 Gallery in New York and group shows at the Winkleman Gallery in New York, the Front Gallery in New Orleans, and Tulane Universitys Newcomb Center for Women. She has drawn a great deal of inspiration from her seven artist residencies abroad in locations including Ireland, England, and Poland, as well as from her 2007 residency at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts.
Odem is the creator of several outdoor sculptural installations, including Wheels of Fortune, sited in the salt flats of Utah for the Center for Land Use Interpretation (1998), Island, produced for the Center for Polish Sculpture in Oronsko, Poland (2004), and the St. Rose Project, a private commission in St. Rose, Louisiana. Her upcoming installation, Blue Fence, a site-specific sculpture presented in collaboration with AORTA projects, will be unveiled on Saturday, April 11, from 2 to 5 p.m. in the Upper Ninth Ward at the intersection of Poland Avenue and North Miro.