Thursday, January 06, 2022

Anonymous Ancestors at Black Creek Arts Council in Hartsville, SC

(Above:  Anonymous Ancestors at the Black Creek Arts Council in Hartsville, SC.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

Yesterday was an awesome one!  It was a time spent installing my solo installation Anonymous Ancestors at the Black Creek Arts Council in Hartsville, SC.  Tonight is the reception from 5:30 - 7:00.  Receptions are always nice but hardly the reason for having a show.  For me, mounting the work is all wrapped up in the very concept.  It is a time when the individual pieces get to come out of boxes, out from "storage".  It is the opportunity to share the work, to pose the questions it asks, and to hopefully impact those who see it. 

(Above:  My iPhone takes panorama shots!  Who knew?)

It took most of Tuesday to collect everything.  The dozen boxes of framed photos are stored in an upstairs, former bedroom.  Most of the furniture is stored in a downstairs room. The hanging garments are elsewhere.  Once gathered near our back door, I'm almost scared! I know that I've got to squeeze it all into our cargo van.  Thankfully, I've done it often enough that I know it will fit!

(Above:  The gallery space before we started to install.)

Upon arrival,  everything is then brought into the space.  The photo above doesn't actually show all of it! There were several more things to the right of this grouping! The first thing done is to roll out the carpet.  Immediately, the gallery starts to take on the feeling of a old-time parlor.  The furniture is then placed.  I have a Victorian rocker, an arm chair, four folding chairs, a marble-top table, a glass-top table, a two-tier table, a wooden commode, a magazine holder, and a foot stool.  Most have been upholstered with fabric I designed, fabric featuring more photos.

(Above:  The wall with the signage and the guest book.)

The next thing to decide is the placement of the signage and guest book.  By tonight, there will be a low cabinet under this arrangement.  It was in the art center's lobby ... which will be cleared for the reception.  The executive director said she would move it into place sometime today.  It will be an excellent place for a few business cards.

Then, the three sculptural garments are placed.  Two are suspended from the ceiling.  Two have circular carpets.  These pieces lend a sense of "people".  The interior feels inhabited, more intimate, and also strangely familiar ... as if the sitting room of a stereotypical grandparent.

Once the three garments are up, it is time to tackle the walls.  The Black Creek Arts Council has a unique arrangement of walls.  In every other exhibition for Anonymous Ancestors, I've hung my Grid of Photos.  Here, there wasn't a wall with at least sixteen running, linear space.  Instead, the space is a series of carpeted wall sections that covered the former windows of the old building.  Between these soft, gray sections is the original, white painted wall.  This creates a unique "alcove" like area in which I hung ovals and crossbow frames. 
The largest framed anonymous ancestor were then hung in the middle of the carpeted sections.  From this point on, hanging the work is very much like solving a jigsaw puzzle.  Thankfully, I have more than 300 altered, old images.  By the time the last nail was hammered into place, more than 260 were on the walls.

Each one of these pictures features an anonymous person.  To each, I've added individual letters clipped from vintage ephemera.  The words describe a potential life ... like "Pillar of the Community" or "Town Drunk" or "Virgins on Our Honeymoon Night" or "Forgotten Family" or "Life Was Hard" or "First in My Family to Go to College" or "Mama's Boy". 

Steve and I worked right up until the Black Creek Arts Council closed.  Our timing was perfect ... finished at 5:01!

The framed signage reads:

To stand within Susan Lenz’s installation, Anonymous Ancestors, is to become immersed in the myriad of family stories handed down through generations. Each snapshot is a frozen moment on life’s time-line. Letters and words clipped from vintage print material allow one’s mind to wander, envisioning forgotten friends, past holidays, ancient occasions, former cars, and hilarious fashion trends. Yet, all the images are anonymous. The photos come from yard sales, auctions, and thrift stores. Who are these people? Who really knows? They are distant aunts and uncles, cousins, grandparents, siblings, and in-laws. They are society’s family tree, our collective wall of ancestors.

Susan invites visitors to sit for a moment, browse through the scrapbooks, albums, and altered images. Please use the provided white gloves while contemplating your own heirlooms.

The rest of this blog post simply features more images!  Enjoy!



T. Gaynor said...

Susan, I am breathless after reading your blog and enjoying the accompanying photos of The Black Creek Arts Council space you magically transformed for your Anonymous Ancestors installation. Absolutely breathless! Congratulations on a beautiful installation and I send you my humble regards for a successful show.

Margaret said...

As T. Gaynor said...the exhibit is breath-taking. I continue to be in awe of the extent of your production, the quality of your work, the breadth of your imagination! All I can do is box up an assortment of hopefully helpful items from time to time, in hopes that I've made a small contribution to your work.

Catherine - Mixed Media Artist said...

totally agree with everyone else...just wow.

I do however have a question: are any of the "ancestors" priced to sell? I don't want to buy any but it seems odd to have a show and not have sales.