In The Hall at the Crane Arts Building in Fishtown is an exhibit featuring the work of Delainey Barclay called “air and space.” The Delaware-based artist’s work is presented by InLiquid Art & Design, whose mission is to provide exposure for visual artists and designers. Barclay’s work is humble and somewhat natural-looking but also immersive and process-based.
First noticeable in the hallway are the spherical forms of thread suspended from the ceiling and protruding from the wall on thin metal rods. Entitled “Humidity” and “Humidity Garden” respectively, the orbs seem like water droplets drifting through the air. In the hot Philadelphia summer, the humidity is often quite palpable if not inescapable. These wrapped string sculptures do well to emulate the feeling of airborne moisture, besides the fact that they are inside an air-conditioned building. The suspended forms just bear the name “Humidity” while the walls also garner the word “garden.” With metal rods sticking the string balls into the hall, they appear much like flowers or reeds, which is surely why their title has been adjusted accordingly; they look very much like a garden, albeit vertical.
The beehive-like structures of “Spaces In Between” blend together at a distance for a smattering of bulbous forms across the wall. At closer inspection, each of the circles that compose the network is a rolled cylinder of paper – in this case, pages of recycled books. There are multiple layers to these relief sculptures producing subtle but necessary depth. Along with the string, Barclay proves that she can utilize basic craft materials in ways that are impressive and elegant. The rolled pages of the books itch to be read, and the mind tends to wonder what they original source may have been.
Of the forms displayed, there are also a couple of untitled works. These are definitely the least nature-inspired installations in the show. They look more like wooden cross-stitch hoops, adding to the craft-like process of the work. Here more than elsewhere, the shadows are particularly stunning. The light casts warped projections of the hoops across the white walls, providing twisted doppelgangers to the physical artwork.
Delainey Barclay proves that she can make process art and natural forms into immersive installations. Standing in the hallway at Crane, it’s like visiting a forest imagined by Dr. Seuss or being shrunk enough to witness individual drops of water vapor. No matter what the perceived vantage point, Barclay’s forms are surreal, yet gentle.
The Crane Arts Building is located at 1400 N. American St., Philadelphia; 215.232.3203.