Jeanne Silverthorne in Artnews 2008
Jeanne Silverthorne by Alfred Mac Adam
Echoing the castings of George Segal, the materials of Eve Hesse, and the playfulness of Claes Oldenburg, Jeanne Silvetrhorne’s sculptures and installations flaunt her origins, which she has reconfigured into something new and wonderful. Useless, silly, unworkable machines, motors that spin gratuitously— Silverthorne’s nature morte is dead nature, and still life is life that is still. But Silverthorne’s nature has gone back to nature, and these flies are ironic reminders of those painted by the Greek artist Apelles, which were so true to life that viewers tried to flick them away.
Silverthorne while both replicating and sending up trompe l’oeil, also evokes the Dutch use of still life as memento mori. The thirteen pieces in this show constituted a gigantic installation, all the works reinforcing one another even as they successfully stood alone. Evoking the aftermath of a Dionysian sparagmos, in which a sacrificial body is torn apart and scattered, the fragments here were of the human environment, with electrical wires standing in as prosthetic veins and motors that could be our hearts. The terror the artist might inflict is mitigated by her use of the grotesque, at once frightful and funny. Silverthorne breaks not new, but old, ground to create a cemetery of living dead artifacts—the detritus of our world recycled into touching, witty works of art.