Moving More Beyond
A quixotic review of More Beyond, a group show curated by artist and collector Rebecca Reeves, on display till May 7th at Brick + Mortar Gallery, in Easton, PA. Brick + Mortar Gallery is located at 8 Center Square in Easton, PA, and open 12-8pm or by appointment Friday and Saturday. Contact the gallery at email@example.com.
Curator Rebecca Reeves will be discussing the exhibition with exhibiting artists Paul Romano and Caitlin McCormack on Saturday, April 30th at 4 - 6 pm at the gallery.
The pillars of Hercules, two cliffs flanking the entrance to the Strait of Gibraltar, legendarily bore the inscription "non plus ultra", warning sailors that there was nothing further beyond, that they had reached the end of the known world.
More Beyond adopts the reversal of that warning; "plus ultra", embraced by explorers and navigators. Instead of traveling to the expanses of the sea, More Beyond takes viewers to a psychological journey inward, exploring the worlds of life and loss, death and mourning.
Reeves has selected the artists carefully, drawing from her personal art collection. The works all laboriously created, intimate and contemplative.
Caitlin McCormack (Philadelphia) captures her studiously crocheted animal skeletons in shadowboxes and bell jars. The fragile creatures fly in and out of thread clouds and lace gloves. McCormack was taught crocheting by her grandmother and begun her series of crochets skeletons after her grandmother's death, The repetitive and structured nature of crocheting lends itself to occupying the mourner's mind and helps her process her grief.
Caitlin McCormack, Nidum Doloris, Crocheted cotton string, glue, lace remnant, steel pins, velvet
Like McCormack, Rebecca Reeves uses thread to delve into difficult emotional terrains.
As she explains in her thanatography essay,
Reeves processes her personal grief and protects her familial memories through minute, delicate and laborious works reminiscent of Victorian mourning arts like hair work. The resulting works in her Family Preservation series (left), are intimate and invite close observation. Carefully presented and framed miniature chests are held onto tightly on the felt background, forming a wreath and weaving an elusive storyline of grief and death-anxiety. Chandeliers and antique dollhouse furniture wrapped obsessively and mounted on felt, evoke a sense of claustrophobia and curiosity. Reeves obscures each miniature piece in a web of hair-colored thread, alluding to a narrative of both protection and trauma.
Above & left: Rebecca Reeves, Family Preservation A sprouting of tiny gilded mirrors wrapped in thread under a bell jar dome, speaks more explicitly about family loss in "Gathering my Ghosts". Several solitary domed thread-wrapped mirrors continue the conversation.
Reeves shows less restraint but equal attention to detail in her series "Water Creatures"; drawings of tangled hair that betray perhaps anger or frustration are elevated from their ephemeral existence and presented in gilded frames.
Rebecca Reeves, Water Creatures, 2015
Rebecca Reeves, Want, (top) Need (bottom)
Spencer Merolla;s work also draws inspiration from victorian hairwork, but takes the concept to a different direction than McCormack and Reeves. Merolla's composition's are ordered as opposed to tangled. She fastidiously glues human hair onto paper which she then cuts and arranges into geometric patterns referencing Victorian hair jewelry and lover's eye brooches, modernizing the 19th century custom.
Spencer Merolla, Right: Hair Jewel 2, Human hair, acrylic, paper, silk ribbon on MDF 4"x 4"
Left: B.R.., human hair, polyester film, acrylic on artboard 19"x 15"
Antique weaved hair mourning brouch, circa 1850s-1870s
Spencer Merolla, Recombined, human hair, acrylic, paper on artboard
Left: Paul Romano, Foreseer, charcoal, watercolor, chalk, acrylic, wood Right: Rebecca Reeves, Gathering My Ghosts, miniature mirrors, thread, glass cloche
Paul Romano, A Warm Glow Floods, oil on panel
Liza Corbett, Folie à Deux, graphite and watercolor on paper
Molly Carter, Arsenic Green, Colored pencil and thread on paper
Amy Earles, The Cast of Remembrance, gouache on paper
Megan Reeves Williamson
Robert Kraiza renders fairytale characters and sentient animals in muted tones of watercolor and ink; Paul Romano mines dark dramas mixing imagined creatures, ribbons, and abstraction; Amy Earles (Indiana) imbues nocturnal, other worldly illustrations of reluctant beauties with a sense of calm, remove, or absence; and Molly Carter (Illinois) explores the intersection of design, fashion and restraint in mixed media, being drawn to corsets, wire-hooped dresses and wigs. Megan Reeves Williamson (Georgia) creates collages of paint and paper based on photographs of funeral food and the spiritualist movement; and Hollie Chastain (Tennessee) repurposes photos and inscribed book covers intohauntingly beautiful, memory-saturated, collaged paintings. Liza Corbett (Los Angeles) creates etherealgraphite drawings of women, surrounding them with animals and flowers.
More Beyond presents a richly diverse group of artists that are exploring the tenuous questions of life, death, pain and memory through beautifully created internal worlds. It is not to be missed.