Special Exhibit | The Passage of Time
For someone whom I think of often, I would like to dedicate this exhibition to my grandmother Mary-Ann Jackson.
I curated the Uprise exhibit, The Passage of Time, as the culminating project of my time at Sager-Braudis Gallery. This exhibit seeks to examine how the grouping of artwork from the voices of seven artists can elicit ideas and emotions about the effects of time. I am selecting these specific pieces based on how they move me personally. They channel to me haunting emotions and feelings of absence, stagnancy, and loneliness based on my experience of time. I hope that the bustling setting of The Passage of Time, contrasted with the visual stillness within the work, will require the viewer to slow down and derive ideas of how time can feel like tangled, hazy moments.
With this opportunity, I selected works of art mostly knowing little to nothing about the artists or their statements and focused solely on similar aesthetics, tonality, and subject matter. Each work communicates with each other in more ways than one; similarities can be found between the works, and even after the fact of selecting pieces for this exhibition it was evident to me that the works could send a greater message when grouped together in a specific setting.
Each work chosen for this exhibition has a singular focal point. This is intentional; I noticed this as I was selecting the works. For nearly all of the pieces, the focal point is surrounded by emptiness: either darkness, haziness, or even the symbolic emptiness of isolated chaos. When viewing this exhibition, one might experience feelings of ephemerality, transience, or even a haunting wave of emotion based on the visual and conceptual weight on the individual artworks.
Sali Swalla and Eryn Trudell are both working in ideas expressing longing, loss, and searching for a form of wholeness. By using color, line, and texture, Trudell is defining her personal experience with non-objectivity instead of using the figure to express her idea. The same goes for Swalla; not only is she dealing with similar imagery, she is also using process-heavy elements to mimic the search for wholeness. With this search, both artists are also using the layering materials as a metaphor for personal growth.
Chris Dahlquist is using the aesthetic of nineteenth century photography along with contemporary technology within her work. The intention of soft focus and a cool tonal range brings us to believe that this could be a historic print. In fact, the idea I had behind choosing her works was to give off the illusion that they could very well could have been made around the turn of the twentieth century. I interpret the heavy process of material and specific subject matter as alluding to how memories can become vague and difficult to retrieve from our minds.
Scott McMahon and Brenda Stumpf have similar approaches to their work and how they utilize the concept of time. The use of metaphorical removal of the present to the past is what we are viewing in their works. Stumpf is using found photographs and altering the composition through scratching. Because Stumpf’s works are small, this forces the viewer to move inward and look deeply into the works which are surrounded by contrasting, larger scale works. Drawing inward physically is similar to how I view the work as a refection of looking inward and attempting to retrieve a past memory that is not so clear. I apply this idea to McMahon as well with his photos. McMahon uses a process of sampling ideas of the past and remixing, reconstructing, and reimagining these ideas to evoke a new, conceptual meaning to a moment in time. I see the visual weight of process and manipulation in these works and associate that to the physical and metaphorical layering of time.
Catherine Armbrust is touching on grief and absence in her work. She is using her body to apply pigment to the canvas to create shapes and forms representing an abstracted body that appears ephemeral. The way that I see this is that our bodies themselves are momentary, just like the memories we have throughout time. Eventually our physical vessels will fade away just like our memories once we have deceased. Armbrust is calling attention to the idea that instances in time can affect us profoundly, even to the point where we are changed by these events in time. The work enforces how we must deal with the weight of what time has created, learn to move forward from it.
This exhibition is based heavily on the idea that over time our memory layers one on top of another, making it difficult for us to always retrieve them. It is a cycle that happens constantly in our lives and there is no way to avoid this from happening. With so many layers of memories, I find that when trying to recall the past, I see hazy/unclear images. This process becomes even more apparent for undesirable memories. The use of abstracted imagery, heavy processes, references to history, and obscuring techniques throughout this exhibition is my way of referencing this idea of layered obscurities that time creates. To me, the passage of time is feels heavy; physically, I feel these elements of grief, abandonment, and nostalgia weigh down on me as I grow older, and I see this in my elders as well. No one can escape the passage of time and the various ways it affects us throughout our life.
The Passage of Time will be exhibited at Uprise until December 14th, and will be celebrated through a radio conversation with KBIA (93.1), the National Public Radio-member station in Columbia, MO.
Will Engle, December 2019