Not There

11/18 - 12/22 2023

Gastrula: A Landscape

Gastrula: A Landscape

In 1988, science fiction writer and iconoclast, Ursula Le Guin, penned in her brief but potent essay The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction, that the vessel may have been our ancestor’s first and greatest invention. The founding function of any vessel is to hold, to gather. Gastrula, the name given to the earliest multi-cellular marine animal, distinguished itself from its predecessors through the adaptation of an opening and a cavity, thereby adopting an ability to hold and filter seawater.

Remarkably, evolutionary biologists believe that life may have started on clay. As the only earthen material with an electrostatic charge, it could have been the substance on which matter jumped from the non-living to the living. Its plasticity has allowed it to shapeshift and occupy states from the fluid to the brittle. Its abundance and ubiquity in the tectonic envelope of the planet has ensured its emergence in nearly every culture, and its endurance—even when broken—testifies to its legacy as the medium of our first cities and writing surfaces.

A clay vessel is then, an object of two ancient expressions, the substrate on which life may have emerged, and an echo of ageless impulses to collect.

Gastrula: A Landscape, an installation by Not There gallerist and artist Heather Scott Peterson, is a collection of hundreds of fired porcelain vessels embedded in pools of unfired porcelain slip—like pelagic animals set in the sediment of the ocean floor—in groupings that suggest evolutionary families and genetic deviations across eras of biological, geological, and technological time.

Heather Scott Peterson (b. 1976, Rochester, NY) lives and works in Los Angeles. She received an MArch from the Southern California Institute of Architecture in 2005, and a BFA in painting from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1998. Peterson is the recipient of a 2014 MacDowell fellowship, and the Juror’s Pick in New American Paintings (2010). Solo exhibitions have been held at Faltarbete, Oland (2019), and TXST Galleries, San Marco (2018). Selected group exhibitions have been held at Domaine de Boisbuchet, Lessac (2016), Grand Finissage, Los Angeles (2015), MAK Center, Los Angeles (2013), Uncertain, Los Angeles (2013).