Hope Atherton’s magical and mysterious “Ash Birds” in Sant’ Andrea de Scaphis

“Ash Birds” 2018, 24k gold plated bronze,June 27 – Sep 15, 2018,Hope Atherton,Sant’Andrea de Scaphis, Rome, courtesy of the artist and Gavin Brown’s enterprise, New York / Rome

 

My long driving trip from Maremma/Toscana to reach Rome this past July determined to visit some masterpieces at the museums and  Hope Atherton’s exhibition at the deconsecrated church in Travestere, the Oratory of Sant’ Andres de Scaphis on Via dei Vascellari  (presently a Gavin Brown gallery) was more than rewarding. When I reached the door at the church that afternoon in Rome was 40 Celcius; the coolness and darkness of the interior lowered the body heat.

The interior of this  building is small (dating as far back as the 9th century) consists of a single room, already lofted after the deconsecration and covered with a single-sloped wooden beam ceiling… the sacred furnishings are the wooden choir supported by two Tuscan columns and the altarpiece of the altar – without a table – in stucco painted in faux marble. Right in this sacred interior the artist, Hope Atherton had positioned her treasures. 

June 27 – Sep 15, 2018, Hope Atherton, Sant’Andrea de Scaphis, Rome, courtesy of the artist and Gavin Brown’s enterprise, New York / Rome

 

June 27 – Sep 15, 2018, Hope Atherton, Sant’Andrea de Scaphis, Rome, courtesy of the artist and Gavin Brown’s enterprise, New York / Rome

 

While viewing these amazing sculptures  in the dark interior of the church in Travestere,  I am searching  for the story, the narrative;  there is a complexity and yet there is an artistic gesture built in those luminous creatures ; there is a tremendous fragility just to imagine those pieces floating in the darkness; there is no gallery press release accompanied  (which I find it appropriate) so upon my return in New York, I sought to meet Hope and possible meeting at her studio.

courtesy of the artist and Gavin Brown’s enterprise, New York / Rome

 

Hope’s aim is to make art “as mysterious and magical”

“Ash Birds” 2018, 24k gold plated bronze, Jun 27 – Sep 15, 2018,Hope Atherton,Sant’Andrea de Scaphis, Rome, courtesy of the artist and Gavin Brown’s enterprise, New York / Rome

 

Hope Atherton’s  studio,photo: VK, october 2018

 

A stormy rainy morning while back in New York,  I visited  Hope Atherton at her studio in Harlem.  A magical and well orchestrated interior, numerous and eclectic finds from flea markets, souvenirs from travel, art objects,  molds for new works displayed and waiting  to be finalized,  sketches, oriental rugs, old armchairs with exotic textile fabrics, fur covers,  choreographed and stretched out in the long red brick wall studio leading to a small inside patio/garden while  a 19 century Chinese wedding bed takes a central role of a ‘theatrical set play’.

Hope Atherton’ s studio,New York. photo: VK.,Oct.2018

 

Hope Atherton’s  studio,NY, photo:VK,,Oct 2018

 

The gold -plated bronze birds are  ‘chimney swifts’ that her father has found in their farm home chimney.  How the story develops…” bird identified by silhouette, the smudge-gray Chimney Swift nimbly maneuvers over rooftops, fields, and rivers to catch insects. Its tiny body, curving wings, and stiff, shallow wingbeats give it a flight style as distinctive as its fluid, chattering call. This enigmatic little bird spends almost its entire life airborne. When it lands, it can’t perch—it clings to vertical walls inside chimneys or in hollow trees’.

Hope has captured the fragility and vulnerability of “chimney swifts” in a glorious way;  the ash birds are admired in their own stagnated stage and yet at that moment they are capturing life in their golden/bronze ‘robes’.  Hope creates smooth, beautiful illusions of those forgotten birds, and designates them into new life.

 

Hilma af Klint, watercolor on paper, 1917 (at the current exhibition at Guggenheim museum/New York)

Hope Atherton’s studio,her molds, New York,  photo: VK., Oct. 2018

 

Hope Atherton’s  studio,New York, photo:VK.,Oct2018

 

Hope Atherton’s  studio,New York, photo:VK., October 2018

much of her work seems more likely to have been discovered – fossilized in rock or buried in mud and leaves -than fabricated”. (Holly Brubach, at Family Matters article on W magazine, published oct.2018)

Jun 27 – Sep 15, 2018,Hope Atherton,Sant’Andrea de Scaphis, Rome, courtesy of the artist and Gavin Brown’s enterprise, New York / Rome

 

Hope Atherton loves artifacts of other eras and civilizations; she is not interested to adore the old things in a way of nostalgia but.. in her own words, ” it has to do with the fact that old things have undergone ‘more transformations. It’s about a sense of the larger, more expansive arc of time and our place in it, rather than dismissing the past in favor of the new. Not to say that I’ am not fascinated by what is oncoming, but my sense of the future is informed by what is already been.” (W magazine, Family Matters, October 2018, to Holly Brubach)

Hope Atherton was raised on a farm in Virginia, where she frequently returns with her five old lovely daughter.   Hope’s love and respect to nature and animals is indeed present in every place or work piece she is about to start.

Hope Atherton at her studio,New York, photo:VK., October 2018

 

Hope is a graduate of Rhode Island School of Design in Providence. Her first solo exhibition was in the “White Room” at White Columns, New York in 2001; Hope Atherton made a notable appearance and impression in the art community and salons in New York and London few years ago as Vanity Fair writes,

” New York City artist and fashion wild child Hope Atherton is known for her avant-garde layered looks, bold accessories, and multicolored hair. This 2010 international best-dressed list nominee isn’t scared to take risks, often pairing ethnic-inspired prints with leather pants and gobs of jewelry. She doesn’s overthink what she is wearing, and her style can easily be described as when bohemian and rock star collide “

That stormy rainy  morning that I visited Hope at her New York studio  she was dressed simple and comfortable in jeans and warm cashmere brown sweater and she calmly talked to me about her work; she had her own jewlery which was illuminating in this magical environment.  Her fascination with the natural world, global traditions and her aim to honor timeless craft techniques and to learn more for her own production art pieces are endless.

September 2002,  Hope Atherton had an exhibition “Shrine” at Sperone Westwater, New York,  she was quoted :

“Is it inherent in the human psyche to want to believe in superstition, ritual, and myth?” (Hope Atherton)