Jeff Grant presents ink on mylar drawings, graphite on paper drawings, works on acetate and large installations side-by-side. In the main exhibition space a little path winds its way between a forest of small arrangements made from stones and multi-colored composite carpet foam. Shaping the latter into leaves from trees indigenous to the Northeast, Grant creates diminutive monuments that can be read as re-creations of natural “found” arrangements, stacked stone memento mori, or quiet meditations on the relationships between the natural and the artificial (referencing the natural). The installation is supplemented with a series of ink on mylar drawings concerned with questioning the perception value of scientific display methods. From old biology books about the genealogy of trees, the drawings precisely show the shape of different trees. Grant reproduces meticulously the growth patterns of oaks, hickories and elms. Sometimes the Latin scientific name of the tree is also included. Despite their accuracy, the drawings hide more than they show as Grant plays on the apparent analogy of the tree form. Reduced to stark, leafless shapes, they almost become undistinguishable.
In an adjacent room, Grant continues his exploration of conventions of visual representation for scientific and pedagogical ends. Here he presents a number of works on acetate and paper that use textbook guides for the dissection of frogs as a point of entry into the relationship between life, language, and visual form. These drawings are supplemented by two sculptures in which tree branches and foam wittily reinforce relationships between object and environment, wall from floor.
Following approaches of scientific categorization, Grant’s drawings and installations seem to be as fragile as pinned butterflies. They are evidence of a holistic worldview and of the wish to make the phenomena of the visual world become apparent with systematic study. But instead of making something more visible, the drawings obscure their subject. Their readability and accuracy turn against the initial impulse of scientific description. In between pseudo-scientific gesture and the Romantic emotionality epitomized by Caspar David Friedrich, there opens up an intellectual field of opposing poles. The tree itself, a Romantic topos with humanoid features, resists the objectifying access.