For “People of the Book” an act of obedience is of the utmost importance: to wash away or bury an old life of sin. Followers descend one stair case as a sign of admission, of fallibility; in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, the believer is immersed in the cleansing water, they then ascend the other side clean, born again. With Birdbath (2018) Charles Harlan portrays two moments of transformational baptisms: the grand: represented by a brilliant blue fiberglass baptism pool, slanted toward the sky; and the traditional: handmade bird bath. Despite its size the synthetic pool feels manageably light, while the density of the stone birdbath acts as an anchor, grounding the would-be flight.
Harlan’s practice is psychical. Mining found and industrial materials, Harlan’s sculptures highlight the grandeur of the everyday.
Be it barbed wire or bricks, stones or trees plucked directly from the ground, by scaling up these utilitarian artifacts they command a new reverence. He fuses old and new, abstraction and fragmentation, personal narratives and moments too important, too pure to communicate. The ritual and experience collapse his past with our present, each symbiotic of the other.
This exhibition is sponsored by Kayne Griffin Corcoran, Los Angeles and Vickery Hardware, Smyrna.