“Sculpting Nature” Review; Philadelphia Inquirer

Sculpting Nature

– By Victoria Donohoe

Philadelphia Inquirer

The three-person “Sculpting Nature” show at the Center for Emerging Visual Artists offers an exhibition’s worth of promise and variety. Leading off is Susan Benarcik, a sculptural installation artist who really understands her materials. While her work isn’t personality-starved, its chief attraction is its buildup of surfaces, its handling of texture. What’s really on view in these abstractions is the product of Benarcik’s bending, pushing, breaking, and other process-oriented manipulation of natural and man-made recycled materials. Her offering evokes beauty and sensuous nature-related artistry elevated to a symbol.

Meanwhile, hard clarity and firm delineations push representation to the borderline of abstraction in John Woodin’s photos of a vast acreage of nursery stock under meticulous commercial cultivation. Instead of documenting specific locations, scenes are animated by their emphasis on patterned relationships. Otherwise these photos have their own unhurried grace.

R. Noel Shaak, an illustrator and horticulturist working in a meticulous, polished style with no loose ends, captures eons of time capsulated before our eyes, yet also looks to the future. His often-bizarre, peopled landscapes are certainly beautiful viewed closely, and offer a suggestion of process.


Center for Emerging Visual Artists, 1521 Locust St. Through Thursday. Mon-Fri 11-5. Free. 215-546-7775.

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