5   +   8   =  

esther bell jar

Esther’s Traugot’s Natural Alchemy

is a solo exhibit at Chandra Cerrito Contemporary featuring hand-dyed thread, pollen yellow, which is crocheted around objects found in nature. Each item, whether it be a seed pod, crab’s leg, twig or egg, is delicately cradled in cloth. The intermingling of the natural and the created highlight both elements but draw attention to the natural form.


When you first walk in, there is a stump forest, a greeting by Esther’s intricate work. In the mist of the forest, it is hard not to think of how much time much have been taken to so painstakingly knit these perfectly shaped coverings for all of these bits of trees. Along the walls are shelves holding miniature objects including seeds and crab legs. The legs themselves, often seen washed up on a beach, usually invoke the thought of dismembered crabs and make me look away; These crab legs have gained an integrity and beauty in their pollen hued adornments. They have become majestic, rather than discarded. In this way, Esther evokes the name of her exhibit, Natural Alchemy. Esther displays some of these small objects under bell jars, adding an antique and a scientific aspect to their presentation.
esther traugot1


Ester’s artist statement:


“I cover objects of nature with crocheted threads in an attempt to “prop up” or “put back” what has been abandoned, broken. As bandage or cozy, these support structures investigate the relationship between nurturing and controlling nature.The meticulous act of crocheting mimics the instinct to nurture and protect what is viable,what is becoming precious.As in gilding, these false “skins” imbue the objects with an assumed desirability or value; the wrapping becomes an act of veneration. Although futile in its attempt at archiving and preservation, it suggests optimism. My interest in the objects extends from the notion of landscape and how we not only experience, but also negotiate with the natural world.

“With this series of paintings I explore the idealization of nature with a focus on simulated patterns from cloth fabrics; their repeating patterns of flowers and dots articulate what could be agricultural fields, hills and human forms.To me, they speak both to the natural and simulated world, and the nurture and control of nature.”


Esther (Middle) & Dasha Matsuura of Chandra Cerrito Contemporary (left)

Esther (Middle) & Dasha Matsuura of Chandra Cerrito Contemporary (left)

What was sparked in me when viewing this exhibit was the notion of collections. Recently, an art teacher at the school where I work did a lesson that involved ruminating on a childhood collection and then taking that collection as an inspiration point to make 3d paper forms. Besides one of the students having a collection of stuffed birds that made different bird call sounds, this was an awesome assignment because it was about collections and collections are many smaller things that make up a collective thing and that is an idea I like.


When I heard about the assignment, I immediately thought of Trung Tran’s exhibit I meant to say pass the sugar please

and how small, intricate things can seem to portray a certain image and when looked at closer, reveal that they are made up of something entirely different and unexpected, and in this case, create a message that is quite subversive. Then I started thinking of a friend of mine in NY who sells sex toys and how she has a collection of them: Denise and her plethora of dildos.


There is something intriguing about the manipulation of small things. In the details and the intricacy. I like something about the neurosis necessary to be so precise, to indulge in such tedium, almost like a self-soothing.


Collections are funny things. Why do we collect things? I used to collect key-chains as a kid. Key-chains and marbles. People collect stamps. Stones. Bottles. Antiques. Antiquated books. Stuffed birds that make bird calling sounds. What do you collect? Why? What does your collection mean to you?



Esther Traugot’s Natural Alchemy is on exhibit until May 29th.

Chandra Cerrito Contemporary opened in 2007 and selects exhibitions that have strong conceptual components, are refined in craft, contemporary in vision and historically relevant.