Liz Harvey, "shy lemons greens cool chocolates," Feb. 3-Mar. 4, Greenleaf Gallery at Whittier College, 13406 Philadelphia Street, Whittier, Ca. 90608
Liz Harvey's new work, which was recently on view at Whittier College's Greenleaf Gallery, actively engages the rich and multifarious history of feminist art practice, while also attesting to a highly personal and singular vision.
Harvey's constructions are made entirely from zippers sewn together into a variety of configurations. The power of these pieces lies in a simple allusion, a slight and almost always odd little nod to that which is "zipped up" or unseen versus that which is openly, sometimes outlandishly revealed. In any case, Harvey's zippers always hold themselves up as separate constructions to be discovered on its own terms.
Each of these pieces has a personality. Bind shows several yellow zippers sewn together into a stanchion, or the shape could be seen to resemble a noose. Around the zippers is a slender hood of knitted wool -- a nod to Joseph Beuys perhaps? The piece is at once funny and fiercely intelligent. Harvey walks the line between simply engaging a long-standing tradition of strong work by strong women, such as Eva Hesse, Rebecca Horn and Louise Bourgeois, while also honoring her own esthetic.
The strongest piece in the show, Loll, is laid out on the gallery floor like a strange sea creature that has crawled up onto shore. Constructed entirely of multi-colored zippers, the piece narrows toward the middle, giving the impression of a shrinking waistline on one of those wild flapper girls from the 1920s. The work is wonderfully playful and rich.