Image: Roberley Bell, At Play, mixed media /  ©Roberly Bell    ©Black & White Gallery/Project Space

Image: Roberley Bell, At Play, mixed media / ©Roberly Bell  ©Black & White Gallery/Project Space


Roberley Bell's first experience working in the Williamsburg outdoor project space shaped her second exhibition there. It took advantage of the space's contained, gallery-like perimeter but also accounted for its openness to the elements in a neighborhood still characterized by industry. "The second time around, I wanted to think of the site more as a gallery space," said Bell, "but I was also more aware of the dirt in the air, and I wanted to play the artificial nature of the work off the distressed and decaying quality of the urban environment." While her first work was an immersive environment, her second project featured a series of comparatively object-oriented pieces that functioned as stand-alone sculpture rather than components in a larger installation. "Flower blobs," in the artist's parlance, each piece consisted of a rounded amorphous shape derived from curvilinear architecture and covered with bright artificial flowers, plastic humming birds, faux butterflies, and other manufactured bits of nature. Mounted on stem-like supports, the objects stood at approximately eye level with the viewer, creating a human-scale respite from the harsh concrete walls. As with her first piece, she incorporated mirrors into the installation to bring the sky into the gray cinder-block space, this time placing them in a series of wall sculptures. The cumulative effect created a melange of real and artificial nature in the space, and Bell recalls that monarch butterflies would even occasionally hover around her displays of artificial flowers. "The work managed to convince what little natural life exists in Brooklyn that it was real," she said.