With your year long Carla subscription, you will receive a new issue right to your doorstep every 3 months.
Our advertising program is essential to the ecology of our publication. Ad fees go directly to paying writers, which we do according to W.A.G.E. standards.
We are currently printing runs of 6,000 every three months. Our publication is distributed locally through galleries and art related businesses, providing a direct outlet to reaching a specific demographic with art related interests and concerns.
To advertise or for more information on rates, deadlines, and production specifications, please contact us at email@example.com
Sophia Narrett endows the traditionally demure domestic craft of embroidery with sensual extravagance. Each stitch in her graphic scenes is akin to a painted stroke, each surface built up, line by colored line, with impasto-like vigor. The works assume irregular shapes, as if provisional patches torn from some ostensible whole. Untethered threads extrude like branches or flames from the upper edge or dangle from the bottom like errant drips. Mounted an inch or so from the wall, the pieces cast shadows; they have deliciously unruly sculptural presence.
For all of their insistent, lush materiality, however, New York-based Narrett’s recent works equivocate when it comes to the way they represent a range of sexual and sexually-charged encounters, out-of-doors, between men and women, committing to neither decisive critique nor unabashed celebration. It’s not always easy to read what is happening, but the more legible scenarios frequently involve men in business attire physically occupied with unclothed women in seductive, salacious poses. The power dynamics feel classically sexist: man in charge, protected by his fabric armor; woman available, vulnerable, totally exposed. Just as off-putting as these staged situations are the smiles on the faces of most of the female figures. Narrett lifts visual formulas from television, the internet, and other mass cultural sources, where such a smile is an inexhaustible trope, so common as to be unremarkable, so unremarkable as to be deeply troubling. Quoted in the show’s press release, Narrett acknowledges that the language she adopts from such sources is “problematic,” and “shapes what [she’s] trying to say,” which is “sometimes” about subversion.
The show contains seven works, four of them no bigger than a sheet of notebook paper. Each of these smaller works portrays a single tryst within a spatially unified field. Sweethearts (2019) reads like a male suburbanite’s wet dream. A young man in denim appears to have come down the walk from his white clapboard, hollyhock-trimmed house to embrace his lover, who straddles the mailbox, nude, her pale pink bottom and legs the image’s inescapable focal point. The woman delivers herself, an unwrapped gift for the taking, her generosity verging on debasement.
In the three larger pieces, multiple liaisons play out collage-style across environments that morph in type and toggle in scale. Whether the activities are intended as sequential or simultaneous hardly matters. Time, like space, skews to the needs of the drama at hand. Through Closed Eyes (2020) recalls the 1999 film Eyes Wide Shut in title and tone of dark fantasy. The piece has a clean arc of sherbet sky above and otherwise shaggy borders that define a shape roughly similar to a double-booted map of Italy. Across this discontinuous dream, among glowing candles, upended lava lamps, and oversized, gorgeously articulated tulips, figures engage individually in indeterminate rituals, and consort in twos and threes. There is a woman perched atop a man’s shoulders, a bench crisscrossed in hazard tape, figures with hands in each other’s hair and spreading each other’s legs. It’s an optical orgy of the decorous and indecorous, hinting at both captivity and performativity, with women consistently appearing in strange positions of subservience.
In reclaiming the historically feminine pursuit of needlework, Narrett enacts a now-familiar feminist gesture of empowerment, situating herself within a lineage of irreverent stitchery at least two generations old. She exemplifies the potential of handwork to express inner and outer worlds, with both intimacy and intensity. It’s more than a little unsettling to see a method of making, liberated from its own conventional constrictions, used to perpetuate repressive, objectifying imagery. In treating the sensual and the sensational as one and the same, Narrett leaves her work’s subversive promise in an ineffectual tangle.
Sophia Narrett: Soul Kiss runs from November 13, 2020–January 28, 2021 at Kohn Gallery (1227 N. Highland Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90038).