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Indepth Arts News:

"Jeffrey Sarmiento: Encyclopaedia"
2007-05-18 until 2007-07-08
Urban Glass, Robert Lehman Gallery
Brooklyn, NY, USA United States of America

Multiple layers of text, pattern and image are fused into Encyclopædia, the first New York showing of the work of artist Jeffrey Sarmiento. The exhibition revolves around Sarmiento’s central issue: constructed ethnicities. Works such as Fighter (a one-meter high image of a rooster) and the thick clear casting Machete Wedding employ the glass to add a third dimension to the photographic narrative, referring to the artist’s Filipino American background. He splices together himself, his father and grandfather into the Triple Self Portraits, emphasising his inherited appearance. Sarmiento has actively sought foreignness to develop, and in some ways invent, a complex cultural identity. He uses the attempt to assimilate into society in Denmark, where he lived as a Fulbright Fellow, to create new ways of seeing both self and other. Invasion Paranoia Map, a work created during his UrbanGlass Visiting Artist residency, describes the lurking suspicion of invasion within the image of a pastoral Danish Village.

The title work, Encyclopædia, is the beginning of a five-year project to record his adjustment to life in Northeast England, where he currently works. The stacked and fused blocks of glass visualize the volumes of collected knowledge. Capturing layers of information within the glass causes all to be simultaneously visible. Does the graphic collision in glass produce new ways of seeing, or does it become totally illegible? In his essay, Open Work, Umberto Eco suggests that the interpretation of art is dependent on the viewer’s reading of visual information to discover not a fixed meaning but one of a range of possibilities. Through his collection of language, culture and history, Sarmiento proposes to express the density, richness, and growth of his experience.

The exhibition Encyclopædia is supported by a California State University Research Grant, a University of Sunderland RAE Fellowship, and the UrbanGlass Visiting Artist Program.

Jeffrey Sarmiento was the recipient of an UrbanGlass Visiting Artist Fellowship. Fellowships are for an eight week period and include access to all areas of the Studio on a scheduled basis, technical support and materials as stipulated in the Fellowship Agreement. The Emerging Artist Fellowship is designed to provide recent graduates with a bridge between the academic and professional world. Fellowships afford artists the opportunity to develop a new body of work and explore new techniques. Artists are chosen on the basis of past work and plans for utilizing UrbanGlass facilities.

UrbanGlass: New York Contemporary Glass Center is a not-for-profit international art center located at 647 Fulton Street, in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, NY. The mission of UrbanGlass is to promote the use and appreciation of glass as a creative medium and to make glass accessible to an increasingly diverse audience through its programs, educational initiatives, and publications.

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