Thornton Dial, Kahlil Robert Irving, Leslie Martinez
Chapter NY is pleased to present a three-person exhibition with works by Thornton Dial, Kahlil Robert Irving, and Leslie Martinez.

All three artists explore the notion of embeddedness. They recombine found and replicated objects tied to personal and cultural histories, dislodging them from ingrained associations to allow space for reflection and imagination. Often incorporating detritus within their mixed-media compositions, their work fosters new life from discarded materials, which—once molded and reconfigured—suggest resilience and regeneration with broader symbolic significance.

The surfaces of Martinez’s abstract paintings recall scorched topographies or the mineral formations that form the strata of earth’s time. Their new work stems from an ongoing interest in naturally occurring materials that have existed in this world long before human laws and prejudices. For this exhibition, Martinez combines three paintings to form a towering stack resembling a cross section of the earth. Layers of vibrant color and texture emerge from within their compositions, as if newly excavated gems and minerals. Their defamiliarized materials function as structures of transformation, achieving a resilient beauty that holds the promise of futurity.

Irving’s interest extends beyond the natural world, with an almost archeological approach to the surfaces and materials prevalent throughout our built environment. Irving’s sculptures comprise handmade stoneware tiles that reimagine the asphalt used to make city streets, an often-overlooked urban topography. Also reminiscent of ancient Greek mosaic floors, his sculptures contain reimagined historical objects and replicated, enameled fragments of urban detritus. These discarded artifacts—particularly those that are left to accumulate in some neighborhoods more than others—offer evidence of sustained hierarchies and aspects of societal oppression part of everyday life.

Dial also manipulated manmade materials from his surroundings, particularly those with which he had direct contact. His practice was one of resourcefulness, creating from what was available and recontextualizing those objects as a way of rewriting history. In his late work, The Rich Man’s House (Tsunamis Don’t Discriminate), Dial combines discarded furniture and various domestic items to convey a universal experience of loss—but with the destruction caused by a massive flood comes the possibility of a new beginning.

Thornton Dial (b. 1928, Emelle, Alabama; d. 2016, McCalla, Alabama) has had numerous solo exhibitions at museums and institutions across the United States. Dial’s work is included in the permanent collections of the American Folk Art Museum, New York; Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn; Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas; de Young Museum, San Francisco; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.; Pérez Art Museum, Miami; Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture, Washington D.C.; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; among others.

Kahlil Robert Irving (b. 1992, San Diego, California) lives and works in Saint Louis, Missouri. He received an MFA from Washington University Saint Louis in 2017 and a BFA from Kansas City Art Institute in 2015. Irving has had solo exhibitions at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Museum of Modern Art, New York; and Contemporary Art Museum Saint Louis, among others. Irving’s work is included in the permanent collections of the Kansas City Art Institute, Kansas City; Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Overland Park; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; RISD Museum, Providence; Riga Porcelain Museum, Latvia; Foundation for Contemporary Ceramic Art, Kecskemet, Hungary;  and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.

Leslie Martinez (b. 1985, McAllen, Texas) lives and works in Dallas, Texas. They received an MFA from Yale University in 2018 and a BFA from The Cooper Union in 2008. Martinez has had solo exhibitions at MoMA PS1, Queens; Blaffer Art Museum, Houston; Commonwealth and Council, Los Angeles; and And Now, Dallas. Martinez’s work is included in the permanent collections of the Dallas Museum of Art; High Museum of Art, Atlanta; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles; Pérez Art Museum Miami; Speed Art Museum, Louisville; and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.