Mirror Cells

May 13–Aug 21, 2016

This exhibition brings together artists Liz Craft, Rochelle Goldberg, Elizabeth Jaeger, Maggie Lee, and Win McCarthy, who often conceive of interconnected works that suggest strange invented worlds. While each artist creates discrete objects, these works act in direct dialogue with one another—at times alluding to furniture or other functional items—in order to generate a broader context that extends beyond their individual physical forms. They often make use of humble materials such as wood, resin, and ceramic clay, putting a renewed emphasis on the act of making and materiality. The exhibition’s installation on the eighth floor will take on an otherworldly quality by using the galleries as a single, surreal landscape yet drawn from ideas tied to a common social reality.

The title Mirror Cells references mirror neurons, specialized brain cells that are activated when observing the behavior of others. Researchers have theorized that these cells allow us to feel the joy and pain of others and associate them with understanding human intention and feelings of empathy. Accordingly, the works presented in the exhibition are often made as empathetic responses to events such as the loss of a loved one, preoccupations of a particular community, or changes that impact the world more broadly. Referencing both fantasy and real-life experience, they address broad concerns like inequality and climate change as well as more personal narratives connected to trauma and loss.

Mirror Cells is organized by associate curators Christopher Y. Lew and Jane Panetta.

Generous support is provided by Jackson Tang. 

Additional support is provided by Eleanor Cayre.


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Audio guides

This audio guide features commentary by four of the exhibiting artists and Jane Panetta, associate curator and co-curator of Mirror Cells.

View guide

Explore works from this exhibition
in the Whitney's collection

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In the News

"Mirror Cells Asks: What Lights Up the Brain?
The New York Times

"Spider Women, Cargo Ships, Chia Grass, and 'Mommy': Behind the Scenes of 'Mirror Cells' at the Whitney Museum"

"Maggie Lee: Talking in Puzzles"

"Mirror Cells: Maggie Lee at the Whitney"
V Magazine