The New York Times
February 6, 2005
New Jersey Footlights
A (Big) Cleanup in Aisle 5

by Michelle Falkenstein
In spring 2002, the sculptor Stefanie Nagorka was walking the aisles of Home Depot in Clifton, looking for cinder blocks and pavers to use in her next sculpture. Ms. Nagorka, who lives in Montclair, was loosing her Manhattan studio (and lots of storage), so to determine exactly how many blocks she needed, she built the sculpture in the store's aisle and photographed it. "I looked at the pohotos when I got home, and had an "ah-ha" moment," she said. "I could build the thing and not own the blocks. That I had recorded this with my camera was enough."

Ms. Nagorka has built many sculptures since then in the aisles of home improvemnt stores in 27 states as part of her "Aisle Studio" project, and she intends to hit the entire country. This month she will add Florida to the list, and over the summer she is planning trips in the North and West. Each project, from building to photographing, takes about an hour to complete. She dismantles her work if asked. "It's connected me more to the country," Ms. Nagorka said, "especially at a time when our politics are very difficult."

Through April 7, the Westby Art Gallery at Rowan University's Glassboro campus will include four of Ms. Nagorka's installations, made with material loaned by the Home Depot in Deptford, as well as photographs of past work.
Information: (856) 256-4521

Washington Post
August 4, 2004
Do-It-Herself Artist's Building Blocks
Tommy Nguyen
Princeton Packet
August 15, 2003
For sculptor Stefanie Nagorka, the aisles of Home Depot stores serve as both studio and inspiration
Matt Smith
National Public Radio
May 24, 2003
Stefanie Nagorka, do-it-yourself sculptor
Susan Stone
Montclair Times
April 24, 2003
For Montclair artist, there's no place like Home Depot
Alicia Zadrozny
Budget Living
April/May 2003 Volume I, Issue 4
Cleanup in Aisle Four!
A scrappy sculptor finds a D.I.Y. studio at Home Depot
A trip to Home Depot inspires most of us to hang a shelf, but Stefanie Nagorka hears a higher calling. The 49-year-old guerrilla artist has created a niche for herself by building temporary sculptures in the retailer's aisles using the materials on hand, usually concrete paving stones. She photographs the works on the sly (since Home Depot doesn't allow snapshots for security reasons) and then either dismantles them by employees. It all started early last year when the Montclair, New Jersey, resident built a test piece at her local Home Depot for a proposed project. "I developed the picture and realized the picture itself had become an object," she says. Many people agree.
Nagorka's photos, sell at the Debs & Co. gallery in New York City for upward of $800. Suddenly, having stones shipped to her home studio became unnecessary. "It was liberating," she says. "The space savings is at least as important as the cash savings, if not more so." Nagorka has so far made more than 50 pieces in 10 states and hopes to build one in every state over the nest 18 months. "Home Depot is shaping the environment," she says. "The blocks I use are part of the American landscape. What I do is about turning them into something that's no longer mundane." --M.J.M.
The New York Post
November 23, 2002
Depot peep show
Where's the last place in the world you'd expect to have your artistic muse awakened?
Try a Home Depot in Brooklyn. that's what happened to sculptress Stefanie Nagorka when she visited an outlet of the housewares chain - and now she's created a world of beautiful abstract art from items she's found in its aisles. In the photographic exhibit Home Depot Home, Nagorka's odd vision, including prefabricated concrete block creations and art made from things like basketball post anchors, is on full display. "The blocks - which are made to look like bricks or stones - are the vernacular of the suburban landscape," Nagorka says. Ultimately, she hopes to visit stores in all 50 states and then mount another exhibition. "It's really a lot of fun - discovering the society of Home Depot. And hearing a lot of guy talk."
New York Magazine
November 18, 2002
cue/ART: Talent
Home Studio
Edith Newhall
Stefanie Ngaorka is not the first person to view Home Depot as an art-supply store. (After all, the chain has paint, brushes, turpentine, wood, and stone - and that's not counting the "readymades," like snow shovels and Shop-Vacs.) But Nagorka is the first to use the chain's giant stores as her studio. "At some point, I realized that building on-site just made sense for me," says Nagorka, who works in cast concrete at her home in Montclair, New Jersey, and a few years ago began constructing sculptures from concrete pavers. Last year, she decided to quit hauling all that heavy stuff home and began doing her work in the aisles of the local Home Depot. Since then, she's built projects at Home Depots around the country (last week, on a trip to see Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty, Nagorka did a piece in Logan, Utah). She does it all without formal permission, so photographing the pieces has been dicey - and photos are Nagorka's only records of the works, since Home Depot employees dismantle them within hours. "It's a Home Depot policy not to allow photography," Nagorka says. "But in some, when I've told them I'm a sculptor, they've said, Do it quickly, and I won't look." For now, gallerygoers can see a selection of Nagorka's work (and photos thereof) at Chelsea's Debs & Co. As for the temporary sculptures, Nagorka likes to think of them as dispersed, not destroyed. "After those pavers go back on the shelf, they are purchased," Nagorka says. "The pavers I've touched might go into a patio. One piece might be in a dozen yards."
October 2000
Stefanie Nagorka @ Debs & Co.
By Joyce B. Korotkin
Stefanie Nagorka is a master of subtle nuance whose minimalist sculptures concentrate on the elemental purities of form and medium. Whether working with materials as fragile as the wax as she has previously or with the impervious permanence of the cement works in this exhibition, Nagorka's most truly constant medium is actually intangible – the spare eloquence of the infinitesimal irregularities in her handmade, often serially cast objects; or the interludes and spaces between things. In this, Nagorka's work shares affinities with Rachael Whiteread's casts of negative space. “Arc,” which plays the hidden backbone of construction against the deceit of surface aesthetics in the built environment, is an example of this. Created from the humblest of ready-made construction materials—cement cinder blocks or CMU (the construction industry's abbreviation fro “Concrete Masonry Unit”) – “Arc” curves gently as it rises in step pyramid fashion from the floor. The resultant work is in contradiction to the units of its own makings; It is far weightier than it appears with its cloud-like gray color and lacy delicacy created from each block's airy center. “Arc” appears at first glance to rise symmetrically form its outermost parts, but Nagorka has arranged the uniform blocks with minute changes in the intervals between each addition that force a nearly imperceptible, asymmetrical result which, in turn, echoes conversations, relationships, and the surface symmetries of human social intercourse. Operating as a paradigm for the finite nature of the individual society, “Arc” achieves a sameness within its construct that belies its own diversity.
“Hex Pavers” deals with how we perceive and inhabit space. The work is comprised of 350 interlocking cement units, each one fitting into the general pattern yet sustaining slight differences form the others. Rather than casting each one from the same mold, Nagorka creates a new mold for each [aver from foam board, the pattern of which is taken from an original New York City street hexagonal paving stone. Assorted detritus from the mold as well as slight variations inherent in the hand made object give each unit its character. As with “Arc,” these labor-intensive variations are not readily apparent, but they are nonetheless there and cause the work to resonate with an almost spiritual essence of purity. Thought of by Nagorka as “send-ups” of the minimalist idiom of perfections, the hand-crafted irregularities are the essential core of the work. “Hex Pavers” takes up a large amount of floor space, which enforces tense viewer interaction with the piece as one must literally “watch one's step” in order to maneuver through the gallery. One is thus drawn into and surrounded by the piece. As one might expect with work of such reductivist nature, the surface of each piece takes on pivotal importance. “Arc” is rough and scratchy, while the concrete of “Hex Pavers” resembles gray elephant skin. Other surfaces such as those in the smaller pieces take on the surface qualities of their molds, often as shiny and smooth as polished marble. These small works are cast from assorted containers – containment is one of the artist's signature themes—the type of storage containers that become forgotten spaces for the stuff we won't throw away but end up storing and forgetting about anyway. Named from abbreviations of the factory-induced initials found on the molds, these casts take on the aspects of a secret code.
September 15, 2000
Herbert Reichert
Point your index finger at a space between your body and the wall. Move it smoothly and graciously from left to right. Allow it to describe a modest arc. Remember the arc. Make doubly sure that the arc is neither too big nor too small. It's length and curve must be absolutely appropriate. Its length will describe its character, and its curve will suggest its intention. Its thickness will be its poetry. And its scale will be a testament to its maturity.

This describes Stefanie Nagorka's Pyramidal Arc, 2000 . Ms. Nagorka has stacked garden variety, slightly decorative, commercially made cement blocks in a tremendous, reaching arc. Starting at the floor, each successive course of blocks is shorter and narrower. Each course has a few less of these decorative blocks, until, at approximately eye level, there is only one crowning block.

When I first saw this arc I said to myself: you old person, fool, stuck in the 60's primary structures, keep on moving on . . . but then, wait! At least take a look at the back. Have some patience or mercy. And suddenly, looking at the convex side of the arc, s I noticed the angled open spaces between the blocks, I began to really see this thing. There was something unmistakably amazing and right-feeling about this pile of blocks. There was something quite sophisticated about this arc. These cinderblocks or “cmus,” concrete masonry units, as both Home Depot and the gallery's press release call them, began to speak about a lot more than mid-60's art issues.

To begin with, I cannot over-emphasize the absolute sense of rightness the arc of cums inspires. Just the perfect number of blocks. The right length and radius. Its height and (perceived) weight make its corporeal aspect seem very (dare I say it?) human. I know this sounds corny, but when I stood in the concave area of the arc, the sculpture appeared to embrace me. I then quickly imagined this block arc as it might look sitting in a lush tropical garden. I imagined that the concave and convex sides of the arc would be even more dramatically contrasted. The convex seeming more “outside” and the convex feeling even more inside.

Even in this imaginary jungle garden, I still stood just beyond arm's length from the arc. Just beyond where I could touch it. I wanted to touch it, but I felt like I must grasp its import first. An aura of quiet significance prevailed. I wanted to reach forward, to straighten my arm and point my finger. To point down at the long arcing line where the blocks contact the floor. And to point straight ahead at the lone cum capping the block curve. Nagorka's arc never felt like a wall. It never felt like art pretension or sculpture. It never felt decorative or clever or contrived. It did however feel private. And solemn. As if the artist has made many arcs before this, but this is the first to go public. It felt like a bright but quiet child. It felt sincere in a way that I had not expected. It felt like mature art made by a seasoned artist who has become too wise to play games with art. Ms. Nagorka's art says here I am. Just look at me. I have depth and good purpose. I am real and that is why I am not “too” anything. Because I am mature, I am just right. Because I am mature I do not need to shout I can speak quietly but firmly. The viewer's job is simple: to look and to listen. The artist knows she put it all together in Pyramidal Arc – she also knows the viewer's job is simple – just recognize it.

As a matter of fact, all three of Stefanie Nagorka's cum sculptures currently at Debs & Co. demonstrate a mature variety of artistic subtlety and anti-high-art presence that I never expected to encounter so early in the new art season. This is the kind of exhibition that is easy to miss. It is the kind of art that doesn't stop you in your tracks, but if you don't stop and give it a long, peaceful look, you'll miss it completely.
Magazine Reviews – Painters Journal
September 9, 2000
By Michael Brennan
Although it's clearly not painting, Stefanie Nagorka's recent sculptures on view at Debs & Co. ($10,000 – 15,000) have much in common with her wax-laden works on paper which she has shown in years past. Nagorka's long-term interest in beeswax has found new and appropriate form in her honeycomb hexagonal floor construction made from individually cast Concrete Masonry Units. The CMU is more mundanely used as a standardized paving material and is found all over New York City. In her piece Hexpaver, Nagorka has managed to transform the CMU through recombinant structures that knowingly nod to the floor-bound Minimal poetics of Carl Andre and Tony Smith.

Arc and Pyramidal Arc are composed of cinderblocks, and – again like Nagorka's works on paper – their interiors are filled with dead bugs trapped in cobwebs and other detritus found in the real world. None of this really distracts the viewer from overall beauty of the pieces. In fact they seem more real. After a recent flood of installations in which all matter of debris is suspended mid-way between floor and ceiling, it's nice to see some sculpture of substantial weight so firmly grounded in space.


The New York Times
August 29, 1999
ART REVIEW; Peripatetic Project Takes Root
By William Zimmer

November 1998
Stefanie Nagorka at Debs & Co.
By Katie Clifford
Using graphite and wax, Stefanie Nagorka masterfully crafts simple geometries on paper. Her spare compositions of overlapping squares or interlocking circles may call to mind Minimalism's fixation on pure abstract geometries, but her inclusion of smudge marks, wax drippings–-and, among other studio detritus, tangles of hair and dust--reveals an artist who welcomes the imperfections of process.
Wreaking havoc with Minimalism's strict tenents is nothing new: three decades ago Eva Hesse tested the limits in her drooping latex geometries, and, more recently, Toba Khedoori has been making drawings of repetitive motifs laced with hair and dirt from the studio floor. But Nagorka, it seems, maintains these imperfections, these random accidents, not to thumb her nose at the strictures of Minimalism, but to invent a new kind of pictorial drama.
Although these abstract compositions are wholly contemporary, there's something about her choice of materials that gives her work an aged feel. The skeletal drawings discernible under the translucent wax are like fossils preserved in amber. Nagorka's geometric shapes may even call to mind an art-historical icon: Leonardo's illustration of the Vitruvian man as a perfectly proportioned nude circumscribed by a circle and a square. But in Nagorka's compositions, circles overlap haphazardly and shapes are off-center---a far cry from Leonardo's ideal man, upright and rock-solid in the cosmos. In these fine drawings, Nagorka explores a minimalism freed from the grid, still elegant and pristine despite all its blemishes.
The New York Times
February 4, 1996
ART REVIEW; In 70's Deja Vu, Drawing Returns as a Quirky End in Itself
By Vivien Raynor