As you stand in the front gallery of Pierogi 2000, the walls lined with Dawn Clements’s drawings, the world feels like it’s in quick, constant flux around you. The works on display—the largest of which measures almost 10 by 34 feet—dominate the room with their sheer size and ever-shifting perspectives. In them, Clements has re-created domestic interiors while also skillfully re-creating the inner workings of her own mind. The drawings are marked by her characteristic personalization of physical space—whether that be of her apartment or the rooms inhabited by the characters of old movies—and the results are striking: hallways so intricately detailed that you could get lost in them for days, floral-patterned curtains whose colors leap off the page, tables and chairs with such depth and texture they seem to deliberate their own existence. Clements has scrawled occasional notes or lines of soap-opera dialogue in the margins, only enhancing the overall effect of still lifes that refuse to be still.
The smaller works included in the show help make sense of this vibrancy by revealing its dramatic subtext. Twenty-two small drawings hang on a wall in the second gallery, the majority of them depicting famous female figures from the worlds of art and film. Deep with shadows, silhouettes, and inky contrast, these pieces read as a kind of backstory for the primarily uninhabited spaces of the rest of the exhibition. These women are the missing characters of the larger works. Clements pays homage to them by imbuing her scenes with dramatic life, and in doing so, she offers us the chance to glimpse the world through her fervent eyes.