Photo by Morgan Bulkeley III, 1969
56 HENRY is pleased to present The Enfolding, an exhibition of new work by Michelle Segre, on view from September 21, 2022 through October 30, 2022. The Enfolding marks Michelle Segre’s third solo exhibition with 56 HENRY.
“Being enveloped by a Community is like being held in a sort of…comfortable strait jacket, if you can imagine such a thing. You can’t move much. You can’t move at all unless the Community permits it. You can’t see anything. There’s no smell. Somehow, though, after the first time, it isn’t frightening. It’s peaceful and pleasant. I don’t know why it should be, but it is…. there was the perverse security and peace of being enfolded. There was, somehow, the pleasure of being enfolded.”
— Octavia Butler, Amnesty, 2005
If they so desired, the alien “Communities” could wipe humans off the face of the earth. Yet, the plant-like organisms in Octavia Butler’s Amnesty are addicted to enfolding humans. In this act of compressing, enveloping, cocooning, engulfing, swathing, and surrounding a human form against their many selves, Communities and humans alike decompress into a sublime comfort sacred enough to sustain coexistence between the two life forms.
In Michelle Segre’s The Enfolding, one can almost imagine the titular work embracing visitors into its own supple, woven limbs. Segre’s site-specific wall sculpture is at once biomorphic and celestial. Its netted form invites thoughts of bodily wrapping; her nubby constellation of threads protect a glossy, void-like core. Four loosely woven triangles project to the gallery’s ceiling and floor from a densely knitted ovular ring, which surrounds an interior painting. Improvisation remains critical to Segre’s practice; colors and compositions emerge organically as she spins webs and applies paint. Luminous yellows, reds, oranges, greens, and blues have been dripped and layered to create a nuclear portal at the work’s center - a vibrant black hole, a psychedelic womb, an object of transformation.
In The Enfolding, Segre expands her catalogue of mediums as she premieres her first video, The Owl (2021). Projected on a loop in the gallery’s next room, the work is a compilation of drone and iPhone clips the artist collected between 2019 and 2021 during stays in Skowhegan, Maine and Mount Washington, MA. Segre spliced the excerpts together using iMovie, channeling her affinities for color and music into the smorgasbord of sounds and filters she employed. Candy-colored hues, sepia tones, and X-ray filters tint clips that document a journey from a forest, to a field, to a lake’s edge. As sounds and colors oscillate throughout the 14-minute movie, our senses are “touched, stroked, massaged, compressed in the strangely comfortable, peaceful way” of The Enfolding.
Michelle Segre (b. 1965) lives and works in New York, NY. She has had solo exhibitions at venues such as the lumber room in Portland, Oregon; the Cress Gallery of the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga; and the University Art Museum at the University of Albany, SUNY. Her work has been included in group exhibitions at the deCordova Museum in Lincoln, MA; the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art in Overland Park, KS; the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, CT; and MoMA PS1 in Long Island City, NY. She has been honored with a Colene Brown Art Prize, a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, a Civitella Ranieri Foundation Fellowship, the American Academy for the Arts and Letters Award, a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, and the Louis Comfort Tiffany Biennial Award. Her work is held in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Tang Museum in Saratoga Springs; and the Chazen Museum of Art in Madison, WI, amongst others. Michelle Segre is represented by the Derek Eller Gallery in New York.