Houseplants are guilt generators. They ought to come with a coupon for psychotherapy. Unless you are the rare urban gardener with a knack for keeping things verdant, your houseplant will perish, leaving you with difficult questions to answer. Did I water it too much? Did it get sufficient sunlight? Are my squalid living quarters poison to organic things? Do I radiate a harmful, spirit-sapping field?

If this is you, you’re in good company. HAMEWS, a Jersey City sculptor and textile artist, does not have a green thumb either. She’s given a few of her leafy friends a second life in “Plants I Have Killed,” her plush contribution to “Of Our Being: Fiber Art in the Immediate,” a smart, subversive group show at SMUSH Gallery (340 Summit Avenue). The cloth replicas of jade, aloe, and corn plants — each one accompanied by a printed mea culpa by the artist — sit, pertly, and maybe accusatorially, in little dishes. They’re inorganic, but as is often true about textile art, they’ve got the peculiar gravity and dignity of things that are alive. You won’t mistake them for real plants. But they do feel like real tributes, motivated by real regrets.

“Plants I Have Killed” is a humbler installation than HAMEWS’s September effort at Eonta Space. At “IS/IS Not,” the sculptor in textiles haunted the space with mammoth cloth skeletons, painted them, festooned them with flowers, and bestowed upon them a rickety, ramshackle spirit. It was an engagement with our innards, simultaneously discomfiting and beautiful, and it served as a reminder of our corporeality — and our mortality. The show announced the coming of a local textile artist of vision and ambition, and her cloth plants, wistful, lovely, aching, and fully realized as they are, extend that work and reinforce the sense that we’ve got a budding star on our hands.

It would be misleading to call “Plants I Have Killed” the heart of “Of Our Being,” especially since there’s a giant cloth heart (a little too realistic to be cuddly), fashioned by SMUSH founder and curator Katelyn Halpern, hanging on the south wall. But it is indicative of the wry tone of the show, and it’s also representative of the life-logging tendencies of exhibitors in Jersey City. Artists and gallerists have exhibited a certain desperation to archive their experiences — especially their quotidian experiences. It often feels as if they’re trying to beat the clock, recording happenstance before their memories are overtaken by oblivion. HAMEWS gives us the date each plant died, making the installation an archive of her own battles with horticulture, and a gently self-critical examination of her inability to care for her leafy little charges. “Plants I Have Killed” becomes a tightly woven apology. In a desperate kind of compensation, she’s immortalizing what she couldn’t keep alive by natural means, poking fun at herself, laughing through a veil of tears.

A more comprehensive chronicle of anxiety hangs on the long wall of the outer gallery at Drawing Rooms (926 Newark Ave.). P.E. Pinkman slapped us with forty pieces of his “100 Days of a Pandemic” series of drawn self-portraits at the Fine Arts Gallery at St. Peter’s in the winter of 2022; the Drawing Rooms version opens the gates and gives us the whole series. Here are line drawings of Pinkman’s face, set, unflinchingly, in an expression of boredom, exasperation and worry. Each page in this disassembled diary is a little different. Some are scribbled on, some are gently provoked, some are violently disfigured. In one, question marks hang from Pinkman’s drooping eyelids. In another, his face has settled at the bottom of the page, cheek pressed against the bottom of the drawing, like something that has drifted to the bottom of a fish tank.

Forty of these daily protests in the shape of drawings felt relentless. The full hundred feels obsessive, honest, borderline mad, and a fair chronicle of the lockdown period and the unhealthy insularity that it engendered. Following it from beginning to end is likely to give you flashbacks of 2020: the fretting, the ennui, the flashes of anger, the disgust with the demands of thwarted masculinity, and the slow disintegration of identity in isolation. Early drawings in the series emphasize monotony, the middle drawings dramatize a housefire in the artist’s psyche, and the final images portray an individual consciousness breaking apart. The ride peaks with a black-and-white image of six Pinkman faces superimposed on top of each other in a charcoal-washed blur. “Why so paranoid?,” reads the caption. We hardly need to answer. A project that felt brutally descriptive in 2022 seems, two years later, like an indictment of the measures we chose to take. Pinkman’s show at the Fine Arts Gallery had just enough detachment to be journalistic. The Drawing Rooms version is a plunge into the deep end of the artist’s consciousness — the act of a man logging the moments in order to stay afloat.

Or maybe he wasn’t. Maybe it didn’t take the pandemic to prompt P.E. Pinkman to keep a visual record of the days as they passed. Another piece at Pinkman’s show suggests that his interest in tracing and examining the development of his identity and personality transcends current events. On a wall at the back of Drawing Rooms, he’s given us a sketch representing every year of his life: more than sixty pictures of the artist in sequence, growing up before our eyes in time-lapse. Though Pinkman adopts different looks, swaps out his glasses, and even tries drag, he’s always recognizably himself. His personality is indissoluble, even as his search for a way to present himself to a world uncomfortable with queerness took numerous detours and roundabouts. The piece feels like an affirmation of Pinkman’s essential core — documentation of that which the world can’t erase, and a reminder that we’re not quite as mutable, or breakable, as we might sometimes fear we are. Even when we feel as fragile as houseplants.

(P.E. Pinkman will deliver an artist’s talk at Drawing Rooms on Saturday, March 16 at 3 p.m. “Of Our Being” will be viewable at SMUCH on March 17, 23, and 24 and April 7, 13, 14, 20, and 21 from 3 p.m. — 6 p.m.)

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Tris McCall has written about art, architecture, performance, politics, and public culture for many publications, including the Newark Star-Ledger, the Bergen Record, Jersey Beat, the Jersey City Reporter,...