Cyrilla Mozenter, "the failed utopian"
December 6, 2015
Opening reception: October 28, 2015, 6-8pm
ARTIST TALK: Saturday, November 21, 2:30pm
Lesley Heller Workspace presents the failed utopian, new work by Cyrilla Mozenter. This series began by Mozenter questioning the failed utopian vision of modernism and asking if failure can sometimes be met with enthusiasm. In the failed utopian series, she continues her work with felt and handmade paper with elements of collage, boldly incorporating red, blue, ochre, green, and pink. Using pictogram-like images along with letters and words, Mozenter invents her own language, leaving interpretations of the work to the viewer.
Mozenter works with felt, a textile of ancient origin made from matted and consolidated tangles of animal fur suggesting a compressed chaos. The work is never pre-planned. Stitching the cut-out shapes perfectly into the felt ground goes against felt’s natural inclination to buckle, stretch, droop, and torque, which brings an element of chance and unexpected dimensionality to the work. Her banner-like felt pieces reference medieval heraldry and have a tapestry-like presence due to their size and physicality. Mozenter views the large felt wall pieces as sculptures with a two-dimensional organization.
In the failed utopian series, the polar bear is an important protagonist, reflecting Mozenter’s thoughts on the animal’s as well as human beings’ adaptations to changing conditions. Her work on paper is a combination of cut-and pasted elements, pencil, and gouache, revealing the intricate process of their creation. Many of the works-on-paper involve several sheets of paper of varying translucencies sewn together with silk thread, providing the final drawing with glints of light and space.
Mozenter works as directly and unhesitatingly as possible- with each work becoming its own adventure. She cannot predict what the experience will be or what the evidence of that experience will look like. Both the paper and felt work are embedded with juxtapositions - irregularity in the materials, and precision in her manner of working with them, the sense of immediacy of her execution that is conveyed, along with the gradual realization by the viewer of the obvious time and labor required.
“I am a birthing nurse, attentive and ready to perform whatever intervention is required. Although the drawings look different one to the next, the accumulation allows deeper consistencies to emerge. My intention is to involve as many levels of myself as possible in this process.” CM
Cyrilla Mozenter is a New York artist working in drawing and sculpture. Her primary materials are industrial wool felt and paper. Her work makes frequent reference to the writings of Gertrude Stein, with whom she feels to be in collaboration. Solo exhibitions include warm snow: Sculpture in Two and Three Dimensions at Garrison Art Center (Garrison, NY), warm snow at Adam Baumgold Gallery (NY), More saints seen at The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum (Ridgefield, CT), Cuts and Occasions at Dieu Donné Papermill (NY), Very well saint at The Drawing Center (NY), Undercurrent at Espaço Cultural Municipal Sérgio Porto (Rio de Janeiro), and Secret Ears at BAM (Brooklyn). She has been in residence at Dieu Donné Papermill, the Kohler Arts Center (Sheboygan, WI), and Instituto Municipal de Arte e Cultural-Rioarte (Rio de Janeiro). Jacqueline Ruyak's article about Mozenter's work with felt appeared in the Winter 2010 issue of Surface Design Journal. The artist discusses her work with paper in the Summer 2013 issue of Hand Papermaking. She has received two fellowships from NYFA and two project grants from The Fifth Floor Foundation. The Coby Foundation sponsored her solo exhibition at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum. Mozenter's work is included in the permanent collections of the Arkansas Arts Center, Birmingham Museum of Art, Brooklyn Museum of Art, Hood Museum of Art, New Mexico Museum of Art, New York Public Library Print Collection, University of Massachusetts- Amherst, Walker Art Center, and Yale University Art Gallery. She taught in the MFA program at Pratt Institute.