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work on paper by Matthew Craven

Image: Matthew Craven
FADED, 2020
Framed in walnut, found Images on found vintage poster
39.25" x 27.25"

GLASS CASE OF EMOTION

January 23rd - March 13th

Umar Rashid. Sofie Ramos. Nick Makanna. Maryam Yousif. Adam Beris. Adam Miller. Cody Hudson. Terry Powers. Terri Friedman. Matt Craven. Josh Reames. Craig Calderwood. Julie Henson. Johnny Abrahams. Patrick Martinez. Keith Boadwee. John deFazio. Heather Day.

Among a series of truths, the pandemic has made abundantly clear that so much of our lived days are mediated, experienced and augmented by the screens that create and insulate our realities. Our professional, social and leisurely impulses and obligations all pass through thin pieces of glass into machinery and networks far more complex than most of us can comprehend. Much like Ron Burgundy bemoans, stuck in a phone booth in the 2004 classic Anchorman, we are all essentially stuck in a glass case of emotion. Given our predicament how then do we work within the constraints in which we’ve found ourselves, how do we create art, forms and spaces for viewing that are accessible and relevant to this unending echo chamber in which we find ourselves? In an idealistic sense, art and its enjoyment has always represented a kind of freedom, even if it only be in an imaginative way, yet is that reality even possible at a time in which we are all stuck in a sense, for our own safety sacrificing so many freedoms that were once simply given? 

Perhaps we must first look at the art historical underpinnings of the moment, works that provide some context to our stuckness within this glass box and to our multiple realities that live within and outside of it. A few touch points from nearly a century ago come to mind, whether it be Duchamp’s realms of abstracted figures and desire housed within The Large Glass or the meta commentary woven through Magritte’s surrealist compositions. The Large Glass or The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even, Duchamp’s work completed between 1915 and 1923, consists of large panes of glass that have been altered with a variety of untraditional materials depicting separated domains, the lower portion showing abstracted figures or “bachelors” flanked by odd representations of machinery all directing their attentions to the “bride” floating in a section above these disconnected souls below, veins of broken glass incurred in a shipping accident and other alterations to the surface all heightening the cacophonous and absurdly irrational scene. Magritte’s works such as The Human Condition (1933), The Palace of Memories (1939) and The Fair Captive (1947), all landscape paintings that feature a layering of sceneries, a painting on an easel that both obstructs the landscape behind it and acts as a continuation of that same landscape or a barren topography framed by luscious theater drapes. As Magritte suggests in a letter to a friend, “This is how we see the world. We see it outside ourselves, and at the same time we only have a representation of it in ourselves”, a reality that has seemingly become all too true as our bodily and virtual realities become layered one over another. 

Glass Case of Emotion as an exhibition began as a prompt to a grouping of artists spanning the US from coast to coast–choose one recent work, photograph it and place that image on another image of the artist’s choosing, be that a familiar landscape or an unknown image taken from the web, the only criteria being that it resonate and speak some truth to the artist. The exhibition is an exercise and exploration in context, hoping to create spaces for works to “live” that connect with the reality of a given maker, crafting a composite image that can add to the life of the artwork on its own. Through this exercise an all new narrative and entanglement of meaning is created, both for the artists whose work it is and the online viewer on the receiving end halfway across the country, hopefully imbuing the whole process with some of the imaginative freedoms and pleasures that we all strive for in both creating and viewing art, all mediated by the glass screen in front of you from the safety of your own home.