August 7 – 29, 2015
Opening Reception: Friday, August 7, 6-9pm
Sneek Peak: Thursday, August 6, 5:30-8pm
Rob Hackett’s work initially falls into two camps, sculptural work and print based work. The distinction between the two doesn’t last long though, as the two heavily influence each other. The work is a constant push and pull between source material generated in sculpture, photographed, adapted to print, cut up and collaged, examined, and used to again inform his sculptures. The way the two elements dovetail into one another in the process and generation of idea creates a relationship where neither one holds up the other, but rather they work together in order to stand.
Hackett has been exploring the idea of “median” recently in his work, both as a physical barrier to navigation and movement as well as the signifier of the center point of his work. The physical incarnation of median is seen in the way that his sculptures funnels the viewer through a space. It directs the movement to specific vantage points and often divides the room into sections. This idea is also explored pictorially through collages and prints where the elements divide the picture plane, frequently into two halves. That physical barrier is crucial to changing the way we think about the gallery space. It can create interior and exterior spaces, pathways, tunnels, and obstacles, all which can change the experience the viewer has of a space.
Neither Mine Nor Yours
Contemplation of time and mortality is not new in Michelle Dickson’s work, but in Neither Mine Nor Yours there is a more inward approach. This series of sculptures uses the form of the self-portrait to investigate identity and her place in a world where the future seems more uncertain than ever. The uncertainty ever-present in life has been a driving force behind Dickson’s work, confronting and accepting a constantly evolving state of change is a recurring theme.
The sculptures start with a plaster cast of Dickson’s face that is then paired with a piece of wood. The wood was gathered on numerous hikes the artist took in the DC and Baltimore area, and what happens in the studio is intuitive. In Neither Mine Nor Yours ones relationship with and connection to nature has come forward in ways that she had not considered in the past. She has long been interested in the similarity found in shape and texture across different parts of life- especially how the structure of rivers are like highways, veins, and root systems along with the similarity between skin and bark. Just as the contemplation of time and mortality has turned inward in this body of work, so has Dickson’s exploration of nature. Previous bodies of work have focused on the effect of time on nature, with its cycles of growth, death, and decay. This exhibit shows the effect of the human footprint on the environment is also investigated. The paradox of “man’s destruction of the environment, he needs to survive” rises to the forefront. And with that there is an overarching sense of fragility- both of the body and of the world around us.
Kim Llerena’s Exphrasis uses verbal descriptions of visual artworks as well as passages excerpted from books and essays that have been transcribed into Braille. Each page is then photographed in a way that interprets an essential element of the written text, layering description onto description and questioning what exactly is lost or gained in translation. The transfiguration of tactile code into image serves as a metaphor both for the power of photography to aestheticize the mundane and for the limitations inherent in the act of recording the world in two dimensions.
The idea of ekphrasis asks people to trust in the descriptions of a subjective author. In Llerena’s images, the viewer is asked to extend a degree of trust that the Braille is an accurate transcription of the source text and that the text describes what the title implies it does. In response to the sky at night, for example, a written rumination on the forms and colors of the night sky is depicted in a way that references the very thing the text ponders. In the presupposed hierarchy of these visual works, the photograph describes its subject matter, but this work relies on a reciprocity wherein the subject then can also be said to describe its photograph.
There is the undeniable fact that these pictures are unreadable in different ways to the sighted and to the blind. Something is missing that arguably keeps the experience of the original thing from being fully realized, though new works of art are borne of this frustration. There is also a parallel here between content and form. Invented just ten years apart, both Braille and wet photography are being replaced by easier and faster technologies, pointing to a crisis shared by analog media in a climate of increasing dematerialization.