5.11.2024 – 6.15.2024

Maddy Inez
Venus Freak

Maddy Inez cares for those plants that are unloved, labeled weeds, wildflowers without beauty but imbued with regenerative properties – medicine for us all. She studies botanical illustrations of sunflowers, dandelion, stinging nettle, penny cress, clover, and mustard, not Narcissus, their eternal labor and gifts are neither beauty nor vanity. These plants retain knowledge outside of time, remembering how to remove toxins and heal the soil.

Inez’s responsibility is to both to express the essential beauty and poetry of this matter as dimensional embodiments of relationships of care, and to tend to the physical realities of this symbiosis. As art and gardening are foundational knowledges taught to her by her mother and grandmother, this generational wisdom is a metaphor for the captive maternal care these plants and the soil provide. “Soil is the womb and deathbed of all life on our planet,” she writes in her description of Venus Freak, her solo exhibition that is an ode to these phenomena that overcome colonization and extraction to ensure the health of everything.

Standing sculptures and wall hangings in Venus Freak immerse the viewer in the cyclic nature of beingness. Antecedents provide the building blocks of what follows, passing on memories of life and death, the language of renewal. We experience these phases as weighty yet intangible structure and Inez’s minimalist approach in the space provides a similar alchemic ethereality – the whole exceeding the sum of the parts. Amplifying the stories of the misused and forgotten is inherently political, and Inez fortifies her duty to this work with the poetry of Audre Lorde, Harryette Mullen, bell hooks and other world building women whose languages shape and hold space for our survival.

Rooted with love and power, the full spectrum of light and darkness exists in Inez’s making. She demands a covenant, respect and protection for loamy soil as the architecture of life outside of the boundaries of aesthetic beauty. Refusing the term abject, Inez focuses on the life-sustaining qualities necessary for the biodiversity that we must all agree is the natural beauty of our world. She concentrates on the plurality that makes life fecund, teeming with verdant landscapes, ideas and knowledges. Channeling this trinity, Inez often creates her sculptures in three parts, signifying the building blocks of nature and her own legacy as the daughter and granddaughter of legendary artists.

Venus Freak is revolutionary – as Macy Gray’s song about feminine sexual freedom, as Inez’s mother and grandmother’s labor to expand aesthetics to include radical Black imaginaries and as the transformative materiality of the clay body that she returns to the earth in the form of elemental homage. Inez seamlessly integrates these disparate narratives not to position herself in a hierarchy of change agents, but to assert that revolution is by necessity female and horizontal. There is no room for Eden’s order, but the illumination of generational – gendered and generative – sharing of and caring for the fullness of our connections to one another and to the earth.

– jill moniz

May 11, 2024

On View Through June 15, 2024