Shadow Themes: Finding the Present in the Past
Long-time friends, artists Biba Schutz and Marjorie Simon have had many discussions with one another about their studio practices. They talk technique and process and often reflect on their conceptual development—delighting in the way identifiable themes, interests, and ideas are woven throughout their work.
An artist’s practice rarely evolves in a straight line. Instead, it takes tangents, lateral steps, and meanders along winding pathways. At any stage though, there is always a trace of the artist’s hand and individual perspective. With this in mind Schutz and Simon conceived Shadow Themes, and provided a select group of artists with a single rule—use past work as inspiration for something new.
Connected only by this initial prompt, and with thirty-three artists included, the exhibition is diverse. To navigate this large number of varied works it is useful to embrace a broad interpretation of the exhibition title. “Shadow” can take you in many directions, and with an adventurous eye unexpected connections appear and new meanings emerge.
With the initial premise in mind, the work of Kathleen Browne and Mary Hallam Pearse stand out. Browne’s new pieces are full of volume and soft colors, a departure from the graphic, pop imagery for which she is best known. Yet, the exploration of human emotion and gesture found in her earlier pieces continues in her present work through more nuanced and nonrepresentational form. Mary Hallam Pearse’s new works are alive with chatter and activity. Still utilizing jewelry as a device to talk about jewelry, Pearse moves away from paring down jewelry to its essential forms, and instead builds mini tableaus that are busy with narrative and splashes of color.
There are a number of pieces in the show that use shadow as an integral conceptual component: Sayumi Yokouchi’s light and airy woven brooches, April Wood’s intricately cut brooches, and Lyndsay Rice’s colorful mixed media pieces all play with the effects of shadow. These works create complex patterns on the body, changing with movement and light.
Sondra Sherman’s inky black Rorschach-like brooches flip between form and flatness with the abstract silhouettes acting almost as cast shadows or counterparts to the dense floral ornament. Parallel to that is the work of Hilary Sanders. Sanders carves graphite into polished beads of various shapes and sizes and then strings together or attaches these beads. When worn or touched, this jewelry leaves a residue—a physical shadow— wherever it has been.
There are many subtle connections between artists and artworks. This was most striking between the work of Raissa Bump and Joan Parcher. They share a similar sense of form, use of color and pattern, and interest in mixed media. Coming from different generations, their work, when placed together presents a unique dialogue within the field of contemporary jewelry, speaking to notions of tradition while looking towards the future.
With a large group of multigenerational artists, and each with her own approach to jewelry and metalsmithing, Shadow Themes offers something covetable for every taste. Much like the nonlinear trajectory of an art practice, there are many ways to access, interpret, and simply enjoy this extensive group exhibition.
Shadow Themes is on view at Reinstein Ross Gallery though October 16, 2016. The exhibition includes work by Jill Baker Gower, Kristin Beeler, Kathleen Browne, Raïssa Bump, Jessica Calderwood, Petra Class, Sandra Enterline, Diane Falkenhagen, Teresa Faris, Susie Ganch, Mary Hallam Pearse, Mielle Harvey, Susan Kasson Sloan, Lorena Lazard, Brooke Marks-Swanson, Sharon Massey, Wendy McAllister, Patricia Nelson, Brigid O'Hanrahan, Masako Onodero, Joan Parcher, Sharon Portelance, Mary Preston, Lindsay Rice, Hilary Sanders, Barbara Seidenath, Sondra Sherman, Anika Smulovitz, Rachelle Thiewes, Linda Threadgill, April Wood, Sayumi Yokouchi, Sandie Zilker.