Marcelja’s organic, primitive forms are at once deeply familiar and viscerally unnerving, suggesting archetypal narratives about potential and transfiguration. Her tactile organisms – slugs or sea creatures, some tentacled, some not -- seem to be in a state of becoming, on the verge of metamorphosis.
In a simple palette of orange, black, and blue, her gestural ink drawings could be the habitats of those larval creatures. Hidden coves, crevices, tide pools, and wooded thickets, they suggest undiscovered places, nests or caves, untrammeled and fertile.
The impulses manifest in classical narratives – violence, desire, survival – are embedded in Marcelja’s work. Her sculptures can be seen as representations of innocence, pure potential, pure form. They are vulnerable in their nakedness, unarmed, unclothed. But with that comes other associations of nakedness – one’s most basic impulses laid bare, be it hunger, fear, shame, or desire. Marcelja has described this work as “a primordial soup soap opera,” observing, “I am interested in discovering a primitive impulse behind an elaborate drama.”
Contemporary references come to mind as well: the biomorphic sculptures of Louise Bourgeois, or creatures in a science fiction tale. Intentional or not, these connections suggests the untethered, wide-ranging quality of Marcelja’s imagination, in which a consistent thread of humor runs quietly, stealthily, throughout.
Born in Las Vegas, Katerina Marcelja grew up in Rome and is based in Brooklyn. She studied sculpture at Boston University with Carol Keller, performance studies at NYU, and architecture at City College of New York. Her performance piece, Arteria, was shown at Mladinsko Theater in Ljubljana. Recent exhibitions include Fragment Series at Open Source Gallery and Wet Wings and Wooden Sail at the Giacobetti Paul Gallery for the Dumbo Arts Festival.