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Christy Speakman, Phenomenal Growth

Chashama (126th Street)
461 West 126th Street, between Morningside & Amsterdam Avenues, 717-341-8171
November 8 - December 1, 2007
Reception: Thursday, November 8, 6 - 9 PM
Web Site

Chashasma is pleased to present Phenomenal Growth, a solo exhibition of video, photography and works on paper by Chashama artist-in-residence, Christy Speakman.

Phenomenal Growth is a series of ink drawings where Speakman draws directly from video stills extracted from her short films. Revisiting a moment from a fluid photographic source gives her the ability to slow down nature and study the movement of birds in flight. Using found plant tendrils to trace a trajectory of cast shadows, she also gives those birds a resting place. The resulting images function as compressed photographs, drawings of light and layered time. Also included in the exhibition are new photographs from Speakman’s Eyewall series, a body of work she began in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina. Found on the streets of New York City after rainfall, the celestial stains form from oil dropped on pavement by cars in transit. From the moment the oil is released, its colors and contours are in a constant state of dissolution. Contradictory to visual resemblances to outer space or satellite imagery of storms approaching landfall, the photographs embrace the micro, momentary, and ephemeral- literally, the ground beneath your feet.

Speakman is less interested in using the camera to compose images than she is in recording natural and man-made phenomena that may act as symbols for our current state of ecological unraveling. Oil slicks and vapor trails act as contemporary symbols for displacement, not only in a literal sense of citizens evacuating a destroyed city, but also our cultural displacement from nature itself. The aerial view of the contained New Orleans bowl, coupled with the internet’s role in providing Google Earth maps in which a few clicks can take you from the view of an entire region to the roof of your home, gives us a revised perspective on what may be considered landscape. Liquid Land (2007), a single channel video installation, takes the viewer to a hardwood forest on the edge of the Mississippi River levee in New Orleans. It focuses on the natural world as a fluid, interconnected entity, studying Katrina’s effect on the native ecosystem. Fixed landscapes have dissolved into ephemera and groundlessness, suggesting land that is in a constant state of both disappearance and phenomenal growth.

Christy Speakman, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, and now lives in New York City. Speakman holds a B.A. (2002) from the University of New Orleans and an M.F.A. in Photography (2005) from Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. Her recent work has been supported by artist residencies from A Studio in the Woods at Tulane University (2007), The Santa Fe Art Institute (2006), and The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (2005-2006). Speakman’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally; she is the recipient of an Artist Restoration Grant from Tulane University, and a grant from the Joan Mitchell Foundation.

Chashama supports emerging and underrepresented artists by providing one of the most elusive commodities in New York City: space to create. Chashama works with landlords and developers to identify underutilized real estate, which the owner is willing to donate on a short-term, temporary basis, preferring to see underutilized spaces put to good use, looked after and maintained while they are awaiting commercial tenants.
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