Settings1-23 December 2023
Opening Reception – Friday December 1, 7-9pm
Artist Talk – Saturday December 2, 2pm
Eric Schindler Gallery
A setting is a place and a setting is a time. A setting is where a story happens, an entire world unfolding around beloved characters. A setting is a single quiet place at a table, an intimate arrangement for one that is part of a whole. A setting is many things with the same name.
If we live long enough we will know loss of some kind. Loss of love, loss of life, loss of home or security. And with each instance comes grief. Solid and unmoving, a hindrance and a comfort, the last connection to that which is gone and the first acknowledgment of its leaving. Grief is multifaceted, so many angles of approach and reproach, but at its core it is born of things of beauty. It is the absence of something or someone that we hold dear. The forerunners of grief are beautiful; they are joy and love, relationship and response, belonging and being.
This exhibition is about changing the setting of grief, creating an environment where the grief and its forerunners exist simultaneously. This body of paintings encircle a single table setting encased in softness. The setting is present and real but its very nature and response to its surroundings is muted and changed. When I think of grief the ultimate symbol to me is dishes and table settings. Everyday we open the cabinet and pull out chipped plates and worn glasses, setting the table in the same way for the members of our family. We eat together, we talk or don’t, we clear the plates, we wash them and we do it again. It is such a daily, common thing we barely think about it. At times in our lives we add another setting and at times we take one away. Some of us have even had the heartbreak of anticipating adding another setting only to never realize it; and whenever we look at our table we feel the absence. But that is only because we know what is missing.
And that is grief – the heartache of knowing what is missing. This body of work gives form to what is missing. It is the love and joy, the closeness and intimacy, the thousands of moments that make up living. Solid forms emerge from the overlapping in the paintings, robust and alive, each obscuring or illuminating the lines below. The foundational layers build on light and line until the final layers push back the colors, creating the boundaries of the current forms. Each piece provides a different setting, a different moment or emotion from which to filter. Each piece is a backdrop of abstracted beauty for the concrete representation of the table setting.
I wish the idea of grief wasn’t so timely. I wish it was such a foreign concept that this exhibition was completely irrelevant. But the state of our world says otherwise. And the state of my life as well. I have been to more funerals than I can count, sat beside people who are in their final minutes, marveled at others who have lived the length of my lifetime with the searing reality of loss. I have mourned the people missing from the table, both known and unknown. I have been in many of the settings of grief and it is not all bad. In these places we learn what we value, how we love well and how we fall short. And hopefully it is in these places that we can be changed.