Jane Lackey’s project, “Enveloping Space: Walk, Trace, Think,” was a compact, multipart installation whose starting point was a series of 12 drawings made on translucent paper. Resembling architectural site plans, the drawings combined stickers, labels, and tape with sewn, drawn, and painted passages. They were spare, delicate, and enchanting in the way they took the mundane stuff of office life and transformed it into schemata for imagined places.
But Lackey’s translations of what the spaces the drawings described might look like in three dimensions were confusing. The artist constructed an almost mazelike room, defined by walls of sheer fabric. Within it were simple black benches, on which viewers were invited to sit and write down their thoughts in notebooks (among the responses: “bad bummer” and “My grandmother is dying at home right now, and I don’t know what to say to anybody…”). Beyond the fabric enclosure was a long black-felt surface resembling a blackboard and a well of chalk that also solicited visitors’ comments (these were mostly indecipherable, the layers of scribbling suggesting a Cy Twombly painting). At the gallery entrance (or exit, depending on your point of view) was a curtain made of scores of suspended cords, each ending in a wooden dowel.
All these parts did not quite cohere, although the drawings showed a powerful and quirky imagination at work. If Lackey can find a way to better realize the spaces limned in her works on paper, her project might soar instead of baffle.
A version of this story originally appeared in the Summer 2014 issue of ARTnews on page 100.