Swing Girl Terrycloth, by Noah Breuer, image courtesy of the gallery

Columbia Artists Featured in Online Exhibit, 'Fragile'

BY Audrey Deng, September 10, 2020

Works by alumnus Noah Breuer ’07 and Adjunct Assistant Professor Valerie Hammond feature in Planthouse Gallery’s latest online and ongoing group exhibit, Fragile.

The page for Fragile opens with a quote from nature writer Rachel Carson: “It is not half so important to know as to feel.” With this in mind, viewers anticipate the variety of pieces made within the last six years by fifteen different artists that deal with fragility as a concept preceding the work or as a quality describing the artwork itself.

Breuer contributes glassworks “Carl Breuer and Sons,” consisting of three pieces: “Swing Girl Terrycloth” (2019), “Red Tablecloth” (2019) and “Spring Green Placemat” (2019). “Carl Breuer and Sons” is named after Breuer’s family’s former textile printing business founded in 1897 in Bohemia. Forty-two years later, the printing business was forcibly taken away from the family and given to Nazi-approved owners. In his artist statement, Breuer writes, “In 1939 the company, along with all other Jewish-owned property in German-occupied areas, was seized and sold to Nazi-approved owners, most of my family members were killed in Auschwitz, and the product of their work was lost.”

The works Breuer shows in Fragile are constructed based on his 2016 visit to the factory’s archive of fabric samples and designs held by the Czech Textile Museum. Photographing and scanning his family company’s print designs, Breuer used and continues to use these archives as a springboard for his works on paper, fabric, glass and installations. Breuer writes, “My research has opened a window to the material world of my lost European family and allowed me to create a physical connection to the past. These new artworks not only resurrect CB&S designs but also reinterpret them and in turn, raise questions about labor, authorship and appropriation.”

Breuer is an artist and printmaker born and raised in Berkeley, California. His work is in the permanent collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, Watson Library at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Brooklyn Museum of Art. He is an Assistant Professor at Auburn University. He holds a BFA in Printmaking from the Rhode Island School of Design and an MFA from Columbia University. He also earned a graduate research certificate in traditional woodblock printmaking and paper-making from Kyoto Seika University in Japan.

Hammond contributed recent works “Bedlam 07, 14 and 17” (2020) to Fragile. These watercolors, spare and ethereal, seem to be in opposition to the meaning of “bedlam,” but what interests Hammond is “a play between the material and the immaterial, the physical and the spiritual: the dichotomy between what is seen and the sensation it provokes.” Planthouse Gallery describes Hammond’s artwork as “...inhabit[ing] a space she is constantly searching for, straddling the indefinable boundary between presence and absence, material and immaterial, consciousness and the unconscious.”

Hammond‘s work can be found in both private and public collections such as the Walker Art Center, the Library of Congress, The Fine Arts Museum Houston, The Progressive Art Collection, the Fidelity Collection, the New York Public Library’s print and drawing collection, The Chazen Museum, The Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, The Grand Palais Museum, Paris and the Getty Museum. She is a recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, and has exhibited in solo and group shows nationally and internationally.

All works in Fragile are available for sale; the exhibit runs indefinitely online.