Heart Ships (Vitrine)

Nora Berman

September 16–October 29, 2022

STARS is pleased to present Heart Ships, a new body of works by the Los Angeles-based artist Nora Berman. 

Berman’s practice is multidisciplinary, encompassing sculpture, painting, and performance. Drawing from an array of devotional traditions blended with new technologies, her work explores the place of worship and ritual in the present day. Nora Berman’s work also activates the spiritual potential of found iconography, creating totemic objects and playful ceremonies that serve as potential pathways for metaphysical charge.

The ceramics within STARS are titled Heart Ships, inspired by Berman’s research into the esoteric teachings of Rosicrucianism, which means “Rose Cross.” Disciples of Rosicrucianism included the artist Yves Klein, whose high Modernist chromatic investigations embodied the Rosicrucian belief in what he termed “pure pictorial sensibility.” This belief system posits that the spirit is immanent in objects of beauty, containing the power to distill and evoke the archetypal. The artist’s role in this tradition is that of a channel whose spiritual clarity enables a bringing forth of a fragment of the divine by using material mastery to conjure the immaterial.

Berman’s ceramics conjure the form of the rose, a central symbol in the Rosicrucian tradition that represents the individual’s unfolding consciousness, striving ever closer to an embodied knowledge of the sacred. Suspended from the ceiling, the ceramic works appear paradoxically dense yet weightless, taking the rose beyond its concrete form in nature toward the ethereal realm of the platonic ideal. The intensity of focusing on botanical forms offers a chance to contemplate beauty as a means of nourishing the soul. Presented in the bountiful manner of their installation, Berman’s works facilitate an experience of abundance, a positive feast of roses.

Beyond their purely visual appearances, Berman’s ceramic sculptures are frequently activated in performance, becoming ceremonial objects and somatic instruments. In these rituals, participants are invited to place the ceramics upon their bodies, arranging them at key points (such as chest, palms, and forehead). Here the artist invites an experience of corporeal unity, appreciating the tactility and weight of these sculptures and opening up a new plane of transcendental understanding.

The artist also makes her ceramics subject to other sensory investigations, employing contact microphones to draw out the previously unknown sonic dimensions of these totemic objects. These multiplanar explorations are united with Nora Berman’ s broader practice by a principle of sensing and surrendering to the mystery of an object through an appreciation of its form. In this way, Berman’s Heart Ships prompt a gentle awakening of consciousness in each of us as well as the rapturous blossoming of the cosmic rose within.

Nora Berman (b. 1990, Los Angeles) is a transdisciplinary artist working across painting, sculpture and performance. She holds a BFA from the University of California, Los Angeles and an MFA from Kunst Institut Academy of Art and Design, Basel, Switzerland. Recent solo exhibitions include Le Maximum, Los Angeles; Five Car Garage, Los Angeles, Downs & Ross, New York, Weiss Falk, Basel; and Ellis King, Dublin. Selected group exhibitions include High Art, Paris; dèpendance, Brussels; Kunsthaus Baselland, Basel; Kunstmuseum St. Gallen, St.Gallen; Longtang, Zürich; Mickey Schubert, Berlin; Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin; Honolulu, Zurich; Ellis King, Dublin; Charlie James Gallery, Los Angeles; Isabella Bortolozzi, Berlin; and Marta Herford Museum, Herford, Germany.