Loes Berendschot, in her self-titled exhibit at 18 Hands Gallery, has created a family of sorts, a small village of creatures that she describes as self-portraits reflective of her changing moods. These feminine forms have a pour spout or sluice for a head, no arms, oversized feet and legs and, refreshingly, feature a variety of skin tones. They are unified in that they all, whether wearing dresses, skirts or pants, are incredibly fashionable with garments decorated by glaze or patterned clay.
A few of the villagers sport chains and, while this may seem representative of imprisonment or oppression, the artist instead feels that they are a positive embodiment of grounded-ness. The smaller-in-scale Over the Moon, free of her chains, wears a serape of scales with one foot planted firmly on the links. Several medium-sized sculptures feature chains as adornments, including Standing My Ground, with her protuberant stomach, rosette-studded turtleneck and striped pants, and a balanced waist chain anchoring her to the ground. Although none have faces, the elongated, figurative spouts still offer up emotion, such as in Looking Around I, with her velvet collar connected to a leather-bound rock; the lime-colored Looking Around II, as she gazes reflectively backward; or in Come Back, with the double-hung chain positioned over her shoulder. The titles are often clues to Berendschot’s state-of-mind, as evidenced in the triumphant I’ll Make It, with her chains capped by velvet rope ends; or the more than four-foot-tall Well Set, with her bell skirt and winding chain leading to a wrapped ball.
Other themes involve a rock or series of rocks, but this time without the chains, as in the smallish sculptures Stand Alone, Balancing Act 1 and Balancing Act 2. The very stylish Girl On Top is adorned with a necklace and gold-embellished skirt.
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Her playful clay population is scaled from small to large, aptly displayed on white cube stands of varying heights. From the very large Golden Child, to the soft warmth of blue in the medium-sized Found Comfort and Out of Grace 2, each character is uniquely different. Whose Pants? features an oversized sculpture with what can only be described as enormous feet, her sluice head sporting antlers with copper wire leads. Look past the dirty feet of Uncovered and see a wide-hipped matron, with yellow polka dot v-neck, circle-patterned skirt and sporting a necklace that looks a bit like a Sweet Tart candy bracelet.
There are a few orb-like bodies among the group, including Gave My All, which could be interpreted as a just-hatched egg worn as a garment over a green polka dot top and verdant green pants; perhaps a metaphor for motherhood. Other roundish figures include the smallish From a Quiet Corner and Coming My Way, or the pair reacting and interacting with each other in Me Too?
It is Berendschot’s hope that these figures, which all have distinctive personalities, will begin to communicate with other when placed in a group. It’s a creative and whimsical exhibit, and fun to imagine their silent language.
"Loes Berendschot" continues through November 6, at 18 Hands Gallery, 249 West 19th, open Wednesdays to Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sundays noon to 5 p.m., 713-869-3099, 18handsgallery.com.