Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, Chelsea — November 9th, 2016 felt like a life lived in a day. Everything I thought could go wrong, went wrong. My world felt like it was crashing down and I had no say in its choice of sledgehammer. School was tortuous, and I’ve never cried more in a classroom than on the day after Election Night. Seeing the incredible work of Carrie Mae Weems and Ernesto Neto brought the tiniest sliver of hope to an otherwise hopeless day.
Weems’s celebration and pride in being a black woman, and experiencing her Shonda Rhimes-inspired gallery was refreshing. A world exists outside of my suburban high school. A world of light and diversity, of culture and exuberance. Her Blue Notes collection, nestled in an alcove of hauntingly beautiful toned images, is punctuated with bright squares of flat color.
Upon reaching Ernesto Neto’s“The Serpent’s Energy Gave Birth To Humanity”, my spirits were lifted to an even higher level. Neto’s work encapsulates us in a crocheted heaven, a womb of sorts, shielding us from the ever changing, downright terrifying world. We revert to the most simplistic sensations. Grasping the strands of soft cloth as if our lives depend on it. Donning a crocheted scarf of sorts, to feel the weighty material on your shoulders. Playing the wooden maracas and simple drum to feel some sense of control.
Pictured is my six-year-old sister, Lyla. Only seven hours earlier, she cried about the day’s news, my mother reassuring her. “You have to work hard in school, and maybe someday you’ll be president. She cleared the way.” Those words stayed with me throughout the day, but it wasn’t until I saw my sister in the crochet womb, weaving through tightly wound tunnels and squealing in joyous rapture that I came to peace.
Neto’s gallery served as my shoulder to cry on. A refuge for my scared little sister. A meditative practice for my worried mother. A home for those who are discontented and disturbed by the non-crocheted, sharp, angular world around us. Everyone needs a soft place to land at one time or another.