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Review: Nikki Rosato at Jonathan Ferrara Gallery

Nikki Rosato crafts delicate figures from the webs of incised maps. Made by painstakingly cutting away landmasses from between skeins of roads and waterways, Rosato’s fragile portraits echo the body’s circulatory systems but also the airy intricacy of paper lace. In (Untitled) Self-portrait, 2013, Rosato seamlessly invests the flat maps with volume to create a head and shoulders from the networks of paper. Even in relatively planar works, like Jennifer: Chicago, IL or Tim: Detroit, MI, both 2013, the shadow projected by the filigree of paper onto the wall adds a sculptural dimension. By linking the individual portraits to specific geographies, Rosato deepens the connection between her material, its real-life applications, and its creative possibilities. The details of the maps then start to inspire the imagined placement of her subjects in their respective landscapes, momentarily transporting the viewer beyond the gallery walls. The Connections series further plays with these ideas of physical and psychological distance.  Here nearly life-sized figures mirror one another joined by the continuous lines of the maps. At times, Rosato cuts down the bond to single threads of paper, at other moments she allows larger swathes of city networks to unite the figures. Boundaries between bodies shift and depend--not on known emotional factors--but on the continuity of movement through the grids and contours of land.


Written by Tasia Kastanek