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Melanie Baker, Imperium: Representations of Power

Hendershot Gallery (old location)
547 West 27th Street, Suite 632, 212-239-3085
April 23 - May 30, 2009
Reception: Thursday, April 23, 6 - 8 PM
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Hendershot Gallery Presents Imperium: Representations of Power – works by Melanie Baker curated by Cristin Tierney

Hendershot Gallery is pleased to present the work of Brooklyn-based artist, Melanie Baker, in an exhibition entitled Imperium: Representations of Power. This exhibition, curated by Cristin Tierney, will be on view until May 30th and will feature a selection of drawings executed over the past five years.

Baker has built up an oeuvre of finely crafted drawings that represent powerful figures and the symbols that embody their authority. The impact of these works rests not only in the strength of Baker’s draftsmanship, but also in the peculiar framing and fragmenting of her subjects. Figures and forms are cropped with a visual sensitivity not seen since the late work of Degas. Gestures, expressions and attributes are isolated and magnified to great effect. A pope becomes nothing more than the sum of his robe and collar, and the commanding significance of the Emperor Napoleon is conveyed via a laurel wreath, sword and scabbard. The extremes of dark and light—charcoal and pastel—create a cinematic effect, adding to the dramatic force of the images.

Included in this exhibition is a recently completed series of graphite drawings of 19th century Robber Barons such as J.P. Morgan and Andrew Carnegie. These historic figures are installed opposite today’s political and financial titans. As a group, they represent a visual morality tale for future generations, begging the question: does history really repeat itself?

Melanie Baker was born in Columbus, Ohio. She earned her BFA from Pratt Institute and her MFA from Stony Brook University. Baker’s artwork has been featured in solo and group exhibitions at many venues around New York City including the Brooklyn Museum, the Jersey City Museum, Roebling Hall and White Box. She has had solo exhibitions in Salvador, Brazil and Toronto, Canada.

Baker received a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in 2003 and was named the recipient of the 2003 New York Foundation for Arts Prize. Other grants and fellowships include the Art Omi International Artists’ Colony, the Sacatar Foundation in Bahia, Brazil, the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Workspace Program, Djerassi Resident Artists’ Program, the Tyrone Guthrie Center at Annaghmakerrig, Ireland, Valparaiso in Mojacar, Spain and Yaddo.

attached image: J.P., graphite on paper, 2009, 42×34 in.
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