Kimia Ferdowsi Kline, “Mother Tongue”

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Kimia Ferdowsi Kline, “Mother Tongue”

May 12 — Jun 26, 2021

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Marrow Gallery presents Mother Tongue, an exhibition of new works from New York and Nashville based-artist, Kimia Ferdowsi Kline. This is the artist’s second solo show with the gallery and presents a selection of brand new work made during the global Coronavirus pandemic of 2020 and 2021. Mother Tongue marks a significant formal shift in Kline’s oeuvre from oil painting on traditional rectilineal planes to a mixed media approach centralizing papyrus surfaces and incorporating thread, pearls, beads, glitter and ink. Parallel to this emergence of new materials, Kline distills her subject matter into body-based lexicons as a tool to decipher the expansive mysteries of human relationships. Cut out from the distractions of place, situation, context and even gravity, these emotionally-charged figures take center stage as they grapple with the complexity of self and each other. Mother Tongue opens on May 12 and runs through June 26, 2021. The gallery is open by appointment only.

Shaped as silhouettes but refracting fiery light from luminous surfaces of ink, paint, beads and glitter, the figures in Kimia Ferdowsi Kline’s  Mother Tongue are bright tangles of ids and egos. The employment of papyrus-as-canvas in these works is a stand-in for fragile, yet resilient skin. The use of this ancient material suggests age-old human problems and themes, while shiny lakes of glitter and boldly saturated colors situate the work in a shared contemporary moment.  Shedding contextual detail and highlighting the body’s architectural form, these new works come at a transformative personal moment: Kline recently gave birth to a daughter in 2018. It is well worth noting that a new direction in creative output was mirrored by the creative process unfolding inside the artist’s body. 

The show title, Mother Tongue is a ubiquitous idiom used to describe the language we first learn: the sounds that connect us as children to our caregivers, the words that shape the contours of our early inner worlds through tone and meaning. But while a mother’s words can be the source of complete comfort, they can also carry the potential for harm–a weapon that, when discharged, might inflict lifelong wounds and scars. 

The scarred and interwoven bodies in Mother Tongue are often arranged in four-pointed configurations that evoke the charts of modern day trauma theory or the psychological mapping systems of interpersonal dynamics. Also map-like are the topographical surfaces of these works. Lines of beads and dots of pearls build up surface texture forcing the bodies closer to us, into our spatial dimension. While the faces are elemental, archetypal, a visitation from prehistory,  the specificity and individuality of these figures’ stories come from their stitched up wounds and even their adornments. Much as we adorn ourselves, the artist brightens up her bodies with a dash of staccato glitter or a swoop of pulsing silver beads. 

The pearl’s presence in Mother Tongue offers a metaphor for how we deal with the trauma we inherit from and inflict upon each other. The pearl’s life starts off as a humble grain of sand; but for the oyster, its presence is unacceptable. Unable to rid itself of the painful irritant, the mollusk coats the sand with a protein rendering the foreign objects’ jagged surfaces smooth, a little more manageable, a way to survive more comfortably. The imagery in Mother Tongue illustrates the invisible yet never-ending affairs unfolding in the small spaces of intimacy–the unresolved traumas turned to pearls, the excruciating messiness, the big and small glories of being together. 

About the Artist

Kimia Ferdowsi Kline b. 1984 is a New York and Nashville based American artist.  Recent solo and two-person exhibitions include: Soulmate, 68 Projects Gallery, Berlin, Germany (2017); Waiting Outside, Marrow Gallery, San Francisco, CA (2017);  Breathing On Land, TURN Gallery, New York, NY (2017); As Above, So Below, Elaine L. Jacob’s Gallery, Wayne State, Detroit, MI (2016); Landscapes For The Hungry, TURN Gallery, New York, NY (2015).  In 2015 Kline was awarded The Basil Alkazzi Residency through The New York Foundation for the Arts. She was recently honored to be nominated for the 2018 Rema Hort Mann Foundation Emerging Artist Grant. As an extension of her studio practice, Kline curates the art collection of Wythe Hotel in Brooklyn, New York. Kline holds an MFA from San Francisco Art Institute, CA, 2011, and a BFA from Washington University, St Louis, MO, 2008 (cum laude).