Dysfunction Junction

It's a weird case of nurture versus nature in these shows

At Diana Lowenstein Fine Arts, Peruvian pollenatrix Cecilia Paredes seduces the senses with her stunning show, "Borrowed World." The artist deftly cavorts across the boundaries between man and nature with poetic elegance and a fertile imagination. One of the first pieces to greet the eye is Lucky Shot. This dazzling work was created from dozens of chicken wishbones, cotton thread, and a pristine black basketball rim. From a distance the bleached bones look like real netting and seem sewn together with the sturdiness of medieval chain-mail armor. This piece nails the game-winning shot from the three-point line.

A beautiful mass of black coral, seemingly floating ethereally in the air, is another spectacular piece. Titled Embroidery, the work features giant fans of the coral stitched to a circular pattern of fabric and is suspended from the ceiling from barely perceptible string. Paredes has several ocean-inspired works in the show, including two extraordinary examples from her Children of Neptune Series. In one, she has stitched hundreds of tiny umbonium shells with a mother-of-pearl sheen onto a pair of toddlers' pants. In the other, a baby girl's linen gown features a bodice fashioned from delicate, almost transparent coral fans.

Cecilia Paredes's Gnome at Diana Lowenstein Fine 
Cecilia Paredes's Gnome at Diana Lowenstein Fine Arts


"Poplar" and "We Could Be Friends": Through April 22. Ingalls & Associates, 125 NW 23rd St, Miami; 305-573-6263, www.ingallsassoci ates.com. and "Borrowed World": Through May 8. Diana Lowenstein Fin

Another work with a timeless quality is a blouselike sheath from the artist's Flight Series. The startling confection, created from iridescent blue pheasant feathers and shantung silk, seems an archaeological treasure from a lost civilization. These works, all displayed in flawlessly crafted Plexiglas enclosures and engraved with their title, give the impression they are rare museum pieces, which adds to their mystery and the illusion they are priceless.

The exhibit is split into two distinct viewing spaces, with sculptural works on one side and Paredes's performance photo pieces on the other. One of the more interesting Cibachrome prints, Gnome, depicts the nude artist squatting in a vibrantly hued emerald forest clearing. Her body is painted white and she sprouts black-and-white wings from her back. The artist appears nestled under a tree covered in thick, ropey vines and is dappled in sunlight that filters like tiny needles through a dense canopy of leaves. One might swear Paredes has entered a mythical realm and is just a twig-snap away from taking flight.

In Fish on Water, the artist knifes through the ocean on her belly while the filleted carcass of a game fish melds into her spine as if in a process of spiritual regeneration.

It seems that in the deepest recesses of her mind, Paredes is navigating toward a space for reinvention, for liberating clarity, for disappearance, toward a place where she can magically change her world.

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