Nice Work! #4 Erika Ceruzzi’s “Gray Area”

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Artist: Erika Ceruzzi

Title: “Gray Area”

Medium: Cotton sweatshirt, appliqué, embroidery, frame

Gallery: Muscle Beach

Show: Gate E, group show, Feb. 20 – Mar. 25, 2015

The Artist On The Work:

“[My] intentions are first of all to see ‘Gray Area’ as a blank ‘standard’ sweatshirt found at any Models or Sports Authority. It’s a basic ‘blank’ serving as template/surface for my embroidered drawings. A ubiquitous item that is only unique by a logo or tag, probably somewhere on the chest or stitched onto the lower part of the garment.

Gate E

‘Gray Area’ is referring to the heather gray– which kind of escapes a standardization in color because there are so many shades out there.

I’m adapting a process and language of customized apparel. I’m mis-using the machinery in this industry to create spontaneous drawings and constellations of marks. The ‘ribbon’ appliqué is a hand wrap for boxing or weight lifting—I’m drawn to the ribbon form—and wanted to find something at the same retail space where the sweatshirt came from. The ribbon form is calligraphic, rhythmic. It’s frozen into a gesture, like the embroidery marks.”

The Critic’s Experience:

For me, Erika Ceruzzi’s “Gray Area” is all about the emotional potential of competing forces. She starts with a plain, store-bought, gray sweatshirt—a tame, standard garment– that she makes wild when traditions of sculpture, time-based action, and fashion combine into frantic and meditative designs. Like a guitar solo played on a sewing machine, urgent zigzags of appliqué travel from arm to chest, where embroideries are more cautious and shapely, rendered with great technical care while retaining the quality of loose-wristed brush strokes or doodles made unintentionally more intricate over time.

Gate E

When my gaze reaches the embroidered “24” below the neckline, it involuntarily refocuses to the left breast, where the number occurs again, though stretched and warped in repetition. The accumulative visual effect happens like a CAPTCHA field—pings of rational information amidst noise and chaos– attempting to verify if, indeed, you are human. With more time, oppositional elements extend into the tactile attributes of her chosen materials—the comfortable mental image of an old sweatshirt is interrupted by the violent connotations of the boxing hand-wrap (that used as appliqué)—solidifying Ceruzzi’s interplay between the nonchalant and the aggressive.

Gate E

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