jenee mateer: the earth is intimate

curated by Jordan faye block

Extended through May 13, 2017

Artist Talk  |  April 30  |  12:30 - 1pm

OPENING RECEPTION  |  April 1  |  7-10pm


Jordan Faye Contemporary is delighted to present an exhibition of new photographs by the Maryland-based artist, Jenee Mateer, titled The Earth is Intimate. This body of work explores the garden, our relationship to the earth, plants, flowers and soil through Mateer's unique visceral lens.  The exhibition Opening is Saturday April 1 from 7:00 - 10:00pm. The exhibition runs through April 29, 2017. Jordan Faye Contemporary is located at 218 W Saratoga St on the Top floor of the MAP building, our gallery hours are Wednesday – Thursday 2–6pm Friday & Saturday 12–5pm & Sunday by Appt. 




Recurring themes of Alice, Eve, the garden, the snake, an original tongue, the birth of knowledge.  The garden is pungent, tactile, connected to the first smell of mother, the first smell of baby, the smell of my mate.  We are what we eat.  The smell of the garden informs speech, speaks to me of the earth.  Visceral light, color, sound, smell; an extension of my home, the garden reminds me that I am of the earth and also that I will return to it, to the dirt.  I will decompose and be reconstituted.  I will become part of the ground upon which future generations are built.  

I am connected to the earth; its smell is savory, sweet.  I dig my fingers into the soil. Worms seek cover, mysteriously disappearing into the underworld.  And if, like Alice, I were to follow the rabbit, its white bushy tail disappearing down the hole, if I were to follow and fall into the earth what would be revealed to me on the underside? The garden speaks to me of the possibility of another world, a parallel universe where things are not what they seem.

My cabbage reveals labyrinthine corridors of mesh and flesh.  I slip through cerebral portals, past dendrites chasing the rabbit deeper and deeper.  A cat appears, calm, tail twitching, enigmatic, unhelpful.  I am unable to ask for directions.  My language has unraveled.  Like a child, I must learn the alphabet of this strange place.  A chorus of cicadas accompanies the wind.  The flowers, big girls all, reach for the sky, their heads nod in the breeze.  Colorful parasols, their beauty is fragile, delicate.  Their perfume draws me near.  They drink light and reflect its vibrant color.  Big girls have secrets.  They share with me their experience of time.  And the roots too tell me things, whisper stories, sing operas and dance. I scale the mulch pile and my foot slips.  I fall into a watermelon rind and slide to the bottom.  There is no death here in this place-all is reclaimed by the earth, all is recycled.  Trust in me says the snake as she slithers by.  My visit to the underside forever changes the way I see things.

Stretch, spread your wings, dig your fingers into the dirt.  

Remember the light, the green, the color, the softness, the decay, the growth, the smell of grass and heather and sunlight and sparkling water and odd growths.  Remember summer is coming.  

Gigantic flowers, Dancing carrots, 

mushrooms prancing with parasols, 

old trees -frozen beings absorbing light from above, 

green fields and green hoses, conduits of water, 

brown earth sucking, sucking, sucking, 

Little heads popping out, growing like alien beings reaching for the light, 

creeping, crawling, entangling, 

sucking soaking seeping peeping popping out 

pregnant buds bursting 

Martha Graham pink ladies twirling skirts of fresh crinoline so feminine, soft, 

sexy exuberant folds of flower flesh,

 dancing tubers from another era, 

gentlemen crooning 

Fred Astaire jazzy top hats and gloves Showman spats 

long daddy long legs stylin’ goovin’ 

and long skirted ladies belly dancer babies clicking castinets 

Writhing silk folds revealing legs and limbs and cleavage.  

The ancients gather in carrot town teepees to discuss matters of grave importance 

Should so and so be allowed to marry outside the clan?  

Whispers, rumors, jealousies, gossip  

Archetypal gangster, hero, mother temptress, trickster, father, boss, weakling, pedant, magician, performers trapeze artists all

And in the thick of the basil, the cilantro, one hears whispers of the wind, the bugs crawl, sheltered, they multiply and disappear as one turns the soil, lifts the leaves, penetrates the dirt,

Writhing worms seek shelter when exposed to the sun and slither away, 

disappearing as if by magic into the ground leaving no traces.  

Were they every really there?


See more of Jenee's work on her artist page.