Nestled in the village of Kinderhook about two and a half hours north of NYC, gallerist Jack Shainman’s The School is attracting both locals and day trippers from the city every weekend. The ambitious adaptive reuse project transformed a disused school into a massive 30,000-square-foot exhibition space, which dwarfs the gallery’s two Chelsea locations. For the 2015 summer season, The School is hosting a comprehensive retrospective by the iconic Ghanian artist El Anatsui, who makes glittering sculptural works from recycled materials found in his adopted home of Nigeria.
The School’s wide halls and oversized windows allow for a different sort of art viewing, one that affords the time needed to contemplate and savor the details of the art work – a luxury often overlooked in the chaos of New York City. This extra time and space is especially vital to examining Anatsui’s work, which has intricate details that reveal themselves upon closer inspection.
Anatsui is largely known for his grandiose tapestries, made from tiny fragments of discarded aluminum from liquor and soda bottles produced in Nigeria. The colorful metal bits, often just one square inch or smaller, are treated like pieces of a quilt, organized by color and affixed together to form a tapestry-like wall hanging. Together, the cast-off metals become delicate yet powerful masses hung from the wall like a precious fabric, while others are bent and contorted to form waves upon the ground.
The recycled metal fragments not only draw attention to a consumerist culture and its subsequent waste, but also act as a commentary on cross cultural exchange and the effects of the Western world on Anatsui’s home country of Nigeria.
The beautiful metal works, along with Anatsui’s early works using recycled wood and pottery, will be on display at The School until September 26, 2015.
Images ©Lori Zimmer for Inhabitat. Check out more images on our Flickr stream!