Friday, February 6, 2009

Lisa Neimeth

LISA NEIMETH DOES RIGHTEOUS WORK.  I first came upon it at an open studio in her cottage home tucked behind a gate and then a garden, as in any good fairy tale. She immediately towed us into her glass-encased backyard studio (nee chicken coop circa 1886-really), where we stood soaked in sunlight among nest-rich assemblages, tableaus of dispossessed bones, transfixing representations of sameness: eggs, birds, half-shells, delicately broken clay. All this and Aretha Franklin spinning in the background. I was made dizzy.

The tableware she's forging these days is mythological, whimsical, sturdy, cave-mod, twiggy, color-enhanced. I love eating from her pieces, the way food becomes part of their ever-changing, slowly exposed story; how when you’re finished you’ve got a brief still life of bright bits lingering in crevices. These plates enter your body with a nubby fork texture that sniggles up your arm, indeed their resonant scrapings and solid, in-hand weight are daily tactile reminders of their exquisite handmadeness. They also tap into our mystery, those embedded play figure/selves perpetually hovering in strange symbolic communions. If Kiki Smith made tableware surely it would dwell in this world.

Lisa worked for years in the New York City boroughs combining her skills in both social work and urban planning in sourcing out new kinds of housing for people in need. It seems such a small leap from that to what she does now - immersing herself in essential questions of how we feed ourselves, in all ways. What she proposes is a “slow-dish” movement. She speaks straight to my heat.

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