FREQUENTLY EMPLOYING paper, Plexiglas, and charcoal, Portland-based Lauren Fensterstock creates site-specific installations that render the natural world in an entirely synthetic and monochromatic way. Inspired by gardens and their varying importance from the eighteenth century onward, she distills nature to find the place where it intersects with culture. Fensterstock's monochromatic sculptures appear bleak and sleek from afar, but reveal intricate layers upon closer inspection, where associations-or perhaps disassociations-between mankind and the natural world surface.
Fensterstock transforms the Atrium Gallery into a cabinet of curiosity that expands her interest in natural history and personal collections, principally Holophusicon, an eighteenth-century natural history and ethnographical museum in London, and American artist Robert Smithson's Mirror with Crushed Shells, created during an exploration on the beaches of Sanibel, Florida. Inspired by one quirky collection and a conceptual artwork, Fensterstock will collect shells in her native Maine and Sanibel Island to produce large ornamental cabinets as well as loose, organic stalactites to pepper the wall. At times described as grottos, at others cabinets of curiosities, the physical black elements merge disparate parts into a single organism.
For the very first time, the Atrium Gallery becomes a museum within a museum, where one artist's personal investigations result in a meticulous and powerful site of meaning-part collection, part cave, and part opulent space for reflection.