Kristi Cavataro Ramiken Crucible / New York

September 19, 2022

Let’s chew on this mouth full of glass. Cavataro’s medieval system of construction takes up the traditional flat panel of foil glasswork and flexes it hard, into three dimensions. Gridded sheets of hand cut tiles of rolled sheet glass, soldered in a sandwich of copper, lead, and tin, are incrementally built up into curled tubes woven into knots of hyperbolic architectural complexity. The shape of the base unit is a sealed tunnel, implying conveyance: the suck of an airlock, a train whooshing by, the padded walkways of a transport station, or some psychedelic, streamlined zero gravity habitat, approachable from any direction – each possibility proposing engineering marvels of stained glass, floor to ceiling, with every lurid room of glow- ing walls an inaccessible club of kaleidoscopic radiance. But in spite of the fun in imagining these works as hallucinatory miniaturizations, the interpretation of Cavataro’s work as scaled models is consistently denied by a set of purely abstract manners.

The largest floor piece is a polychromatic, geometric grotesque, with blue ribs and purple lattice spotted in bacillum and sewn together with bright cream arches. The in-and-out is an obscene puzzle. A bleached lime piece, tipped with nozzles pointing some strange flow back at the viewer, is mounted like a harness to the wall. The torso loops on this work aren’t as claustrophobic as the last encounter, and viewed from the side, the profile feels generous by comparison to the absurd, jacked-up density of the interlocking cube on the floor. Circulating through this mosh pit of gnarly glass candy, a second wall sculpture initiates a romance between two separate companions locked in a hanging embrace, a neo-geo marriage of opaque turquoise and translucent violet, inextricably joined in a prismatic knot that switches between tight curves and sharp corners. A cantilevered sculpture droops off the wall like a set of overplumped lips, shimmering in shined bubble gum gloss. A stand up tower, scaled to personhood, dances in alternating columns of contrasting opaque blues topped with arches in dark transparent amber. Hugging the floor in a low saddle, a ranch of baby blue and bright maroon pythons coil together in a maze of supportive corridors and spherical dead ends. These are New York artworks, getting high on obses- sion and discipline – the gateway drugs to fully enclosed thoughts. We may peer in, but the interiors are off limits.

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