Sunday, September 10, 2017

Anonymous Ancestors at USC Upstate, September 12 - November 4, 2017

(Above:  Anonymous Ancestors at The University of South Carolina-Upstate's "Gallery on Main", 172 East Main Street, Spartanburg, SC, September 12 - November 4, 2017.)

Installation Day is always exciting, a tad bit stressful, and requires more time than originally anticipated but it always ends well!  By the time everything is in place and the lights are set and the exhibition signage is hung ...

... I can relax!  I'm very, very pleased with this solo show for several reasons.  The least is not the fact that USC Upstate just had all the walls redone.  Until last week, the walls were all carpeted in dark gray.  The lighter, brighter, white painted surfaces lend themselves to the work and the feel of a nostalgic interior.  Also, Steve and I recently purchased a new, large ProMaster Dodge utility van which meant everything could be hauled to Spartanburg in a single trip.

This is how our driveway looked before we packed the van.  It was necessary to put all boxes and assorted furniture here because ...

... the carpet was on the bottom of all the boxes.  This photo was taken months ago.  The "pile" had only gotten bigger because I continue to create more and more work for this show.  The carpet needed to go into the new van FIRST.  Storage is a bit of a nightmare! LOL!

After unloading the van into the gallery, I immediately started setting the stage, unrolling the carpet, and hanging the curtain which visually blocks the view to the door (to the bathrooms and an emergency exit ... which are still very accessible ... just not a part of "my room").  I placed the furniture and the three sculptural garments.

I hung a few of the framed photographs, especially the largest ones around which I would create vignettes of images.  These first steps allowed me to go from HERE to ...

HERE!  Basically, I use the framed anonymous images to draw spaces on the wall, encircling the interior.

The placement of the furniture and sculptural garments dictate where the vignettes ought to be centered.

I was careful to incorporate a little "negative space" between some of the vignettes too.

Plus, Steve and I hung the Grid of Photos, a fifteen foot long, suspended mosaic of additional, anonymous images.  It was hung right inside the front door, across from the gallery's desk.

I've hung the Grid of Photos in several other locations but none have enjoyed such superior lighting.  From my original concept, I wanted the grid to cast shadows on the wall behind it.  As a stand-alone work of art, it has its own statement:

Each snapshot is a frozen moment in time, a single second on life’s timeline. To stand in front of The Gird of Photos is to remember a not-so-distant past. It triggers a sense of familiarity and common ground. It is easy to envision one’s own family and friends, holidays and special occasions, former cars, and hilarious fashion trends. Yet, these are anonymous photos. They come from yard sales, auctions, and abandoned locations. Who are these people? Who knows? We stand in the present; they look out from the past; too soon we will all be the shadow on the wall.

The new, white painted walls and great track lighting are GREAT!

The exhibition card is equally look looking!  It is pictured here with two other show cards.  The large one with the black background is from Waterworks Visual Arts Center.  My solo show at Waterworks opened while I was installing in Spartanburg.  It's reception is on the 15th ... along with two other solo shows located elsewhere in this nice, regional museum in Salisbury, NC.  The third card is from the Gertrude Herbert Art Institute in Augusta, GA.  I have two pieces in the current national juried exhibition.  The opening was Friday night.  Steve and I went and were so surprised.  Her Secrets was selected for the show's exhibition card!  Now, how cool is that! 

After placing the carpet, furniture, sculptural garments, and a few large framed photos, I spent hours creating the vignettes of framed, altered photos.  This is the first time I had "more than enough".  Some two dozen were not hung.  I used what I needed and had plenty from which to select.  It may not be obvious, but each image has been altered with letters clipped from vintage ephemera.  The words read:  Will You Remember Me?; Pillar of the Community; Spent Time in Jail; I Married Four Times; Virgins on our Wedding Night; I Was Someone's Mother; We Didn't All Live to Adulthood; From an All White Neighborhood; Black Sheep of the Family; The Boy Next Door; Best Friends; He Never Really Loved Me; Every Day Was Mother's Day; etc.  The pictures draw viewers into their world with suggested narratives.  There's an irony between the cozy interior and the sense of "family" when compared to the anonymous lives on display.

There are four pairs of white gloves in this exhibition too.  These are for viewing the eight or nine altered books made while enjoying an art residency in Fergus Falls, Minnesota last year.

Several of the chairs have been altered too.  I created custom fabric using old family photos (from both Steve's family and mine) and used it as upholstery.

The sculptural garments really do add a sense of people who would inhabit such a room.  I am thankful to those who donated two of the three vintage dresses.

I am also thankful for the many opportunities and moments of inspiration that made this show possible.  I wish I knew how to add music to an mp4 video ... but I can't figure it out.  Nonetheless, CLICK HERE for a brief video tour I shot before leaving the gallery yesterday evening!


Margaret said...

Susan, there is SO MUCH to this I wish I could be there to linger over it for an afternoon -- or longer! Wow! May you have a successful showing!

Christine said...

O wow! When everything is put together in such a great surrounding, all I can say is .... wow!

Christine said...

O wow! When everything is put together in such a great surrounding, all I can say is .... wow!