Karen Rifas and Kerry Phillips have more in common than the first letter of their first names, although at first it might not seem so. Rifas’s work should be familiar to many – in particular her linear, site-specific installations that involve optical illusion and delicate interventions. Her pieces can be found at MAM, MOCA and, until recently, at the Bernice Steinbaum Gallery (which closed last year). Phillips is on the early end of her career, but has also had a lot of recent exposure, at the ArtCenter/South Florida and the Hollywood Arts and Cultural Center, to name a few outlets.
In the latest exhibit at Bridge Red Studios Project Space (a Knight Arts grantee), the two are featured in “INKarnation,” where some interesting connections can be found threaded throughout their work. Thread is the optimal word, as both Rifas and Phillips use versions of strings to create some of their works.
Here, in pieces hung on the back and side walls, Rifas has drawn her lines, in the first show to highlight her drawings. But the effect is not so different than when she creates 3-D sculptures from wire; intentionally or not, these drawings still play with perception, some of the lines leaping from the frames, looking both simple and complex at the same time. Rifas credits Agnes Martin and Sol LeWitt for inspiration. While the influence is easy to see, she has created her own vision. These are truly subtle and lovely works.
Phillips’ art is heavier – literally. In the center of the gallery she has created a sculpture from various chair and couch cushions, some from her own home. In fact domestic references dominate her work. Two pieces here include lamps from her grandmother, which Phillips “inherited” when she died. As Phillips says, from the modest working-class home in Texas, this is what amounted to valuables – but ones that Phillips felt very close to. However, the first sculpture you will encounter in the show is made from spools of thread, tying it thematically to the Rifas pieces. The last installation you will likely see, from Phillips, also ties the two artists together: wood planks tacked to the corner of the stairway, with the remnants of one of those Texas lamps hanging above. Both Rifas and Phillips work with space and placement, the lines that bind, and how that impacts how we view what’s around us.
“INKarnation” runs through June 16, with a closing brunch, at Bridge Red Studios, 12425 N.E. 13th Ave., North Miami; by appointment, 786-390-8915.