Stacy Lynn Waddell: Light takes time to reach us September 6–October 28, 2023 1 Rivington Street New York, NY 10002
CANDICE MADEY is thrilled to announce the gallery’s second solo exhibition with Stacy Lynn Waddell, light takes time to reach us, presenting a series of landscapes composed of layers of precious metals; a suite of Audubon bird specimens rendered in low-relief pastiglia and silver-leafed; and a single gilded portrait. Winslow Homer’s watercolor After the Hurricane, Bahamas, in which a lone figure appears washed ashore on a beach, is an important touchstone for the new body of work.
Waddell frequently sources imagery from 19th-century American art and cites a particular fascination with the period’s spirit of unbridled optimism, rapid technological progress, and belief in manifest destiny, often represented by idealized landscapes. Painted in 1899, After the Hurricane, Bahamas, characterizes Homer’s interest in the unpredictable weather conditions that he experienced while traveling in the tropics. Through a contemporary lens, the work seems to foreshadow the relationship between extreme weather patterns, climate change, and the dizzying effect of accelerated global exchange. Waddell echoes Homer’s setting in her own work, exploring how the origins of present-day environmental issues are deeply rooted in 19th-century European and American policy and the Industrial Revolution.
Waddell further explores the complicated relationship between nature, economics, and hierarchical concepts of natural resources in a suite of silver leaf works that portray images from John James Audubon’s Birds of America. Specifically, Waddell interprets a hummingbird that was described in the book as “nondescript and difficult to determine,” suggesting its relative lack of consequence in comparison to showier specimens. While taxonomy was a popular practice in 19th-century natural sciences, Waddell probes how the practice of classification has propagated value systems that extend beyond the scientific into the social, ranking one group over another.
A single painting on canvas represents the lone figure in the exhibition, based on a 1964 photograph by Malian photographer Malick Sidibé, in which a man with his arms overhead dances the merengue, an Afro-Caribbean dance that originated in the Dominican Republic in the 19th-century. In her work, Waddell frequently revisits the vibrant period of Malian history when an emboldened population was inventing a new national identity (after more than 60 years of French colonial rule), proposing a counterpoint to forms of patriotism tied to American history.
Whether working on paper or on canvas, Waddell uses a wide array of processes to create lush texture, including gilding, embossing, and other unexpected approaches. The result is a temporal experience that requires movement and time to fully see her subject matter. She is candid about the seductive effect of reflective surfaces, further acknowledging that her use of gold, silver, and other precious metals alludes to entrenched, cultural notions of value and currency. The title of the show, light takes time to reach us, is also the title of the artist’s first work in neon, offering a universal and transcendent alternative to nationalistic notions of history and identity.
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