.....on the other side of Chelsea? Not so, in this case. Meg Webster's new body of work (body feels like the wrong word -- garden? Stem? Bloom?) at Paula Cooper Gallery is truly fantastic.

Webster was heavily influenced by the Land Art movement of the 1970's, fascinated by the tension between natural materials and unnatural installations. Her gallery installations invite visitors to walk around an artificial "ecosystem," crafted from natural materials; the confluence of the sparse white gallery cube and lush, verdant forms allow the viewer to consider his or her own relationship to the environment. 

Her current exhibition at Paula Cooper gallery features several new works, including "Volume for Lying Flat," "Stick Structure," and "Solar Grow Room." "Volume for Lying Flat" is a new spin on Webster's familiar "Moss Bed" works -- the lush green of the moss, bulging from the mesh that contains it, is so incredibly inviting that the viewer has to actively resist touching or lying down upon the piece. "Solar Grow Room" is a more sinister viewer experience, featuring beds of plants and flowers in a room covered in fun house mirrors -- the plants are lit by a murky, purplish light that is apparently transmitted solar power from panels on the outside of the gallery. In contrast to the inviting comfort of "Volume" and the eerie unnaturalness of "Solar Grow Room," "Stick Structure" strikes a supernatural, ethereal cord. As the viewer steps into the center of the woven form, he or she feels as though he is intruding upon a secret ritual, a private Wiccan or faerie right. 

Kelsey Leonard