Night Gallery is thrilled to present Chaise for Ghosts, an exhibition of new sculptures by Carla Edwards. This is the artist's first solo show with the gallery and follows her inclusion in the group exhibition The Heavy Light Show in 2022.
In Chaise for Ghosts, bathed in ultraviolet light, Carla Edwards takes us into the realm of dreams and domesticity, where histories of material labor and symbols of somatic tension and release form odd sculptural pairings. These pairings mirror histories that are woven together with the artist's personal narrative and ritualistic action to bring forth new spaces dedicated to rest and communion.
Elements of Edwards’ works are created from tabby, a labor-intensive, archaic concrete composed of burned oyster shells mixed with ash, sand, and larger fragments of shell. Tabby was prominent in the British colonies of the coastal American South, notably utilized by enslaved peoples as they built estates and their own quarters. To produce the tabby forms on view, Edwards collected oyster shells during recuperative time spent in nature or while gathering socially, effectively converting shared joy into a ritual that connects her to her ancestors.
Two sculptures in the exhibition take the form of a chaise lounge. At once inviting and elegant, these works embody the symbolic form of classed leisure and hover materially between past and present while echoing the geometric aesthetic principles of Eastlake design, a 19th century movement often considered a precursor to modernist design. Significantly, the English movement’s embrace of the joyful work done by hand was translated into a mass produced commodity, easily reproduced by machine in the United States. This shift to machine-made, easy-to-clean furnishings can be seen as a causal effect of the eradication of enslaved labor. Edwards nods to this history by offering the viewer a utilitarian seat for quiet contemplation of its significance.
The exhibition also includes the most recent installment of Edwards’ Flag Series, a large quilt assembled from fragments of American flags that have been dismantled and reconfigured as a draping abstraction. In making this work, Edwards draws from protest actions and disregards the state-issued, formalistic protocols for handling the flag and transforms the symbol for herself through the domestic activities of dying, redying, and sewing. Collectively, the works in Chaise for Ghosts cast a shadow of interior space for us to inhabit alongside the ghosts of laborers past.
Carla Edwards lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. She has presented solo projects at Lighthouse Works, Fishers Island; Vera Institute of Justice, Brooklyn; and Jenkins Johnson Gallery, Brooklyn. Her work has been exhibited at LSU Museum of Art, Baton Rouge; Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville; and Socrates Sculpture Park, Queens, among others.