Artists Sooo-z Mastropietro and Julie Peppito are next up in the Westport gallery space for their two women exhibition entitled The Continuum of Connection, where they embrace the breadth of layered planes of existence in modern American society. Integral to their notion of connection is the idea of adaptation, shifting a way of behavior or thought to stimulate and maintain connection, for without it, alienation seeps in and creates not only distances between us but a notable void where unity once reigned. One can argue, for too long this modern world we inhabit has drifted in and out of both connection and alienation based upon one’s beliefs. Whereas that divide was not as pronounced as it is today—between politics, class, and opinion—at least the division was still civil. Today, we encounter a chasm born from this disconnection, and a seemingly forced, unctuous alienation.
The need for connection is visible in the thoughtful works of Sooo-z Mastropietro, as she links handmade fiber tubes to another to create, and stimulate, what is best described as a microcosm in a state of becoming. Microfiberorganism-spandasaurusrex, which is an ever growing, ever adapting piece of work that morphs and takes on the space it inhabits, best highlights this notion of becoming and a need for connection. Originating as one form, the work has gathered additions and satellites over time, often reminiscent of sperm in their shape, reminding the viewer that the ‘nature’ of things should not be halted or controlled, but instead be allowed to grow and populate as long as it is sustainable. The work can be further interpreted as a direct response to patriarchal tendencies that attempt to limit, distance, and break down that which does not fit in the ‘box’ perfectly packaged. Taking ideas and objects to their lowest denominator, Mastropietro builds off of these ideas to create little worlds that combine color and shape, implying the need for connections that result in being-ness. Looking at each tube of fiber as a building block of an entirety, she mirrors the limitless opportunities available for connection between civilization, the natural word, and the realm of science, stitching everything together and creating universes and “isms” that she finds compatible.
Julie Peppito’s gorgeously orchestrated mixed-media sculptures and works on canvas run with the idea of connection as she unifies material, color, and often humor, to create vignettes. One interesting aspect of Peppito’s work is the contrast of items that make their way into or onto her works. With the artist foregoing preference for any one item over another, she posits that it is this “hodgepodge” that makes a society; a mix that can succeed and flourish. In Self Portrait (2023) for instance, the viewer encounters an one- armed being, with a supportive arm made of a rich and luscious (and perfectly trimmed) tree that infiltrates what is in the subject’s ‘mind.’ Snippets of a medieval city, colorful doodles, curlicues, bubbles of color, and flowers all drift towards a ticket of 1.95. They culminate in the artist’s idea of self, what the artist wants a world to be, and frankly how connected all these separate ‘things’ are. When joined through the artist and her vision, they become one and whole just as a society of separate and unexpected can also be one. Peppito celebrates the differences and sees no division in what is unique, but instead sees each element as a part of a whole, whether that is her self-portrait, or a town, or a moment in history; all of these ‘bits and pieces’ make a whole.
It seems very clear that both of these artists strive to create and present worlds and situations where the idea of interdependence is what will save us, highlighting a need for all of the varying aspects of a society, a culture, a gender. Together, it becomes apparent that this is the only way to avoid alienation as it is alienation that, by its nature, leaves one outside looking in. For Mastropietro and Peppito, who seek this connectivity, it seems to almost serve as the main ingredient in their individual and collective ‘manifesto’ of what a society should—or even, could—look like. Recognizing that we are not there yet, both of these artists are guiding us towards the right path.
Statement and curation by Melanie Prapopoulos