Woody De Othello
Maybe tomorrow
September 24–November 5, 2022

Karma, New York
22 East 2nd Street
New York, NY, 10003

Karma is pleased to present Maybe tomorrow, an exhibition of sculptural work by Woody De Othello. The show is located at Karma’s 22 East 2nd Street location and will run from September 24th through November 5th, 2022. 

Maybe tomorrow takes its name from a catchy, unsettling 1971 tune by jazz musician Grant Green. The return of the song’s darkly melodic hook was often stuck in Woody De Othello’s head while he worked in his Bay Area studio. 

In Maybe tomorrow, the gallery becomes the site of an architectural intervention. Passing through the entrance to the gallery, a second doorway greets the viewer, behind which hides the exhibition. Inside, concrete floors and walls are covered up, transformed by wooden floorboards and vibrant green walls. Within them, Othello has created a site of transportation where a multitude of mise-en-scenes are staged, and the passage of time is replaced with a strange current. This immersive installation recalls Othello’s earliest sculptural works, made when he was still in his undergraduate years that were set in unexpected surroundings such as bodegas and barbershops. 

Othello’s process is intuitive. Beginning with seemingly mundane and domestic forms—clocks, calendars, phones, and box fans– Othello hones in on their emotionality, extrapolating on their curves and exaggerating their size. The result is often tubular, drooping, and coated in vibrant reds, purples, and magnetic blacks, imbued with the subterranean futurity of jazz. Figurative works join anthropomorphized objects. The rattling of a radiator is poised against a silent prayer; hands clasp together and ears decorate a vase; a dog sits like a deity. Domestic objects become repositories of psychic significance, resonant of nkisi, a West and Central African concept in which objects contain and release spiritual forces. For Othello, each work is a vessel, even when it is physically sealed. 

Othello’s works are created in Richmond, California, in close proximity to where artists Peter Voulkos, Viola Frey and Robert Arneson articulated their style of “muscular sculpture.” Influences are treated as organically as his materials, which he molds and manipulates, layers, and leaves thick. Books on Bantu art and Yoruba religion are referenced in drum-shaped pedestals, while tropical plants are painted onto a calendar, nodding to Othello’s upbringing in Miami as the child of Haitian immigrants. Whether he is working with source material or aesthetic media, Othello’s hand is always present—shaping, pulling, and searching. 

Othello describes the first time he touched clay as an epiphany, in which “he just knew.” This encounter emanates from the core of his practice, in which he gives personal shape to the world around him and mundane objects become doorways into the domain of the spirit. 

Woody De Othello (b. 1991, Miami) is based in San Francisco. His work is currently included in Hear Me Now: The Black Potters of Old Edgefield, South Carolina, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In 2021-2022, Othello was the subject of a solo exhibition, Hope Omens, at the John Michael Kohler Center, and was included in Quiet as It’s Kept, the 2022 Whitney Biennial. Othello’s work is represented in the collections of the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, Florida; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, California; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Renwick Gallery, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C, the Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, Maryland; and the Museum of Fine Art, Boston, Massachusetts, among others.