Exhibition - Heather Parrish: Constructed Atopia

Author: Olivia Williamson


For Heather Parrish, the issue of inhabitation - what it means to be embodied, and how this embodiment exists in relation to the world - is an interest that fuels her work. This heightened sensitivity to ‘self’ and ‘surrounding’ is rooted in her culturally nomadic childhood. “I am fascinated by our ongoing negotiations to establish a sense of belonging and our complex experience as inhabitants, embodied, housed, navigating the flow of ever-changing relative relationships between interior and exterior.”

The concept and imagery for this print and video installation exhibition grew out of a collaboration with Brooklyn-based scientist Dr. Elizabeth Henaff. The subject of her study is the Gowanus Canal, an EPA superfund site which is the urban industrial ruin of decades of toxic waste dumping. This canal is the simultaneously feared and beloved defining feature of a vibrant Brooklyn community. Dr. Hennaff studies the microbiome that inhabits the eleven feet of toxic sludge layered on the waterway’s bottom. Through genetic analysis, she has found that these organisms, shaped by their environment, have evolved to break down the toxicity in a hopeful example of bio-remediation. Parrish uses this metaphorically rich dynamic of reciprocity to reflect on the interconnectedness of bodies of water, humans, and the urban environment.

The opening reception takes place on the evening of Friday, April 21st from 6 to 8 pm at the Flatbed Press and Gallery. The exhibition is open from April 21 - June 3, 2017.