Jesse Small: dESIGN hELL

September 8 - October 22, 2011

The first exhibition of the Fall season will be new sculpture by Jesse Small entitled dESIGN hELL, opening on September 8th continuing through October 22nd, including steel, ceramic, wood and plastic sculptures that mimic “outdated functional objects” from the domestic world, such as chandeliers, mirrors and folding screens.

Small’s chandeliers are not ceiling adornments and fixtures as we know them, nor
are the folding screens part of our life experience. These are sculptures parading or masquerading as decorative objects removed from the concept of decoration that challenge our perception of the everyday object. Chandeliers dance across the gallery ceiling in steel, plastic and wood, sometimes kindled by LED lights that illuminate a variety of "bulbs." Punctuating the ceiling throughout the gallery, they lift the viewer’s eye above the gallery space to an exhibition aloft.

For the first time, Small creates a quasi-domestic environment, i.e., placing chandeliers over wood and plastic tables, which function as pedestals for his signature glazed porcelain pieces in the forms of ghosts (based on Pacman), super size eggs and talk bubbles. Each porcelain is uniquely glazed with motifs in a range from primary and sunset colors, to pure gold, and black staccato drawing lines. His vanitas circles and ellipses reference vanitas paintings throughout art history, as well as mirrors. One cannot look into these mirrors and see a reflection, as the surfaces are etched and glazed, each unique and unto itself.

Small writes about this body of work:

“The concept of this show is to combine forms that are tagged by western culture as both decorative and outdated into an overall installation. Having pre-existing names, such as "chandelier" and "table,” the work gives viewers an easy way into understanding the work, but with no rational exit. The sculptures mimic chandeliers and folding screens, which have their origins in functionality, while fighting tooth and nail against being functional. The title of the exhibit explains that while the core of the pieces reside in the history of functionality, they are reaching to escape that prison of rationality and class struggle.”

“The show will include a monumental folding screen/partition made with COR-TEN steel that has been cut into lace patterns and rusted. On the walls there will be a series of vanitas, some with porcelain tiles and others with puzzle-cut mirrors using several colors, reflecting, distorting and multiplying the works in the space. Also, there will be a series of tables made with high-density plastics and birch, which serve as pedestals for a new series of ceramic ghosts and other shapes. Above the tables there will be a monumental chandelier which will suspend scores of LED infused plastic and ceramic forms.”

Small creates his sculptures in Los Angeles and in China: porcelains in China, which are later glazed, no two alike, in his Los Angeles studio, where he also builds his steel pieces. Finding the whitest white of porcelains in the “china-making town” of Jingdezhen, Small works with local resources to create his pure shapes that have both elegance and reference to pop culture. His ghosts, based on Pacman, became a language barrier banisher for the artist. Like the ghosts and their banishment of barriers, Small casts away some of our “traditional” views of utilitarian objects in his dazzling new sculpture.

Jesse William Arthur Small was born in 1974. He received a B.F.A. from the Kansas City Art Institute, Missouri and an M.F.A. from Alfred University, Alfred, New York.

The artist’s work has been included in exhibitions at The Albrecht-Kemper Museum
of Art, St. Joseph, Missouri; Belger Art Center, Kansas City, Missouri; Daum Museum
of Contemporary Art, Sedalia, Missouri; Des Moines Art Center, Iowa; Kuwait Art Foundation, Kuwait City, Kuwait and Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Portsmouth Museum of Art, New Hampshire; Ringling College of Art and Design, Sarasota, Florida; Schein-Joseph International Museum of Ceramic Art, Alfred, New York; Urban Culture Project at La Esquina, Charlotte Street Foundation, Kansas City, Missouri

His work is in the collections of Alfred University, Alfred, New York; Daum Museum
of Contemporary Art, Sedalia, Missouri; Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, Missouri; Johnson County Community College, Overland Park, Kansas; Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Overland Park, Kansas.

He was a Lighton International Artists Exchange Program Recipient, Kansas City Artists Coalition, Missouri, and took his residency at Experimental Sculpture Factory, Jingdezhen, China. He has received grants and awards from Charlotte Street Foundation, Kansas City, Missouri; Kansas City Art Through Architecture in partnership with Charlotte Street Foundation, Kansas City, Missouri.

The artist resides in Los Angeles, California.

For further information and/or photographs please call the gallery at 212-966-6676 or email

Yours sincerely,

Nancy Hoffman