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Rosemary Mayer’s Portae - installation in the exhibition Future Variations, Showroom, New York, 2022

Rosemary Mayer, Portae, 1974. Installation view in Future Variations.

As part of the exhibition “Future Variations” at Showroom, the Estate of Rosemary Mayer will install one of Mayer’s lesser-known sculptures, Portae, from 1974. This is the first installation of the work since it was originally exhibited soon after it was made.

Portae is part of a series of sculptures constructed with wood that Mayer made following her well-known fabric sculptures of 1972-73. They focus on the element of structure in her work and reveal her deepening connection to art and architecture of the Mannerist and Baroque periods. The ladder-like structure, which was designed to be moveable and installed in various configurations, was inspired by the Deposition from the Cross (1521) by Rosso Fiorentino and also the Isenheim Altarpiece (1512-1516) by Mattias Grunewald. The work also highlights her ongoing interest in fabric and its properties. Through the openings in the wooden structure Mayer threaded aluminum screening and fiberglass, materials that she chose because they were light and transparent but also more structural than fabric, to create the impression that they were floating and weightless.

This installation of Portae at Showroom highlights some of recent work and ongoing research of the Estate of Rosemary Mayer. Alongside the sculpture, the estate will also present ephemera that provide insight into the process—from the material research to replace lost materials to studying drawings, writings and photographs to understand Mayer’s intent. Aligning with the mission of Showroom and its adjacent studio, this installation gives visibility to the work of the artist’s estate through the collective realization of a historical piece, while also creating an opportunity to reconsider the artist’s legacy and archive. This process of reconstruction, reinterpretation and reenactment of historical material that is a part of working with Mayer’s estate also complements the work of other participating artists in Future Variations such as Kamau Amu Patton, Sara VanDerBeek and Alisha B. Wormsley, who are re-imagining past works of their own and of others.