ABOUT THE SHOW
Curated by Kathy Desmond and Lauren O’Neal.
Rites of Passage: The Mortality of Time features contemporary art that
explores issues of aging, time, mortality and death in a variety of media.
Perhaps is it our inherent self-centeredness that makes these topics seem
so germane and so urgent to our own personal life: What will happen when I
get old? What will be like to die? Objects, materials, and moments have
their own mortality as well—one material shifts into another, with a
passing that is not necessarily commemorated with tears and wreaths, but
that is certainly worthy. To consider mortality in any circumstance is to
consider time, and the works in Rites of Passage all consider change as a
marker of time: of time arrested, of action and inaction, growth, decay,
and potential: What might happen next (time)?
The mortality of the body is one area of focus. While this would seem a
commonplace interpretation, the artists in Rites of Passage investigate
not only the frailty of the body under stress of illness or age, but also
the way we mark or record these changes in visual terms. The act of
marking then is a way to participate in the very existence we hold so
dear: it keeps us here, it identifies us, it allows us to process changes
and explore new possibilities for being human.
Mark-making, as a challenge to, or sometimes an acknowledgement of, the
passage of time, is ultimately a gesture of action and engagement, rather
than of futility. The mark of a line becomes a map, a pathway, or a way to
imagine the future. Marks also explore our awareness of time passing and
the urge to capture or record it—a dual perspective on our physicality and
We have a contentious relationship with time. It is, after all, the thief
of mortality. By the same token, we are endlessly fascinated by its
effects. Artists in Rites of Passage: The Morality of Time investigate
these themes through a range of media, including photography, video,
painting, sculpture, and mixed media. Within the work there is curiosity,
fear, contemplation, humor, and hope.
Karen Aqua (Somerville, MA)
Gili Avissar (Israel)
Karylee Doubiago (Adams, MA)
Rebecca Ebeling (San Francisco, CA)
Patrick Hammie (Storrs, CT)
Jennifer Hines (Chicago, IL)
Tara Giannini (Brooklyn, NY)
Gina Gibson (Cerro Gordo, NC)
Christopher Gonzalez (Weatherford, OK)
Jeanne Jo (Providence, RI)
Souymia Krishaswamy (New York, NY)
Joao Machado (Santa Catarina, Brazil)
Denise Malis (Somerville, MA)
Ann Mansolino (Grand Rapids, MI)
Edith Meijering (Zutphen, Netherlands)
Matthew Mosher (Newton, MA)
Sarah Pike (Bennington, VT)
Claire Putney (Everett, WA)
Robin Radin (Jamaica Plain, MA)
Carol Radsperecher (Brooklyn, NY)
Gail Rebhan (Washington, DC)
Eric Redetzke (Portland, OR)
David Schulz (Brooklyn, NY)
Bradley Treadaway (Oak Ridge, NJ)
Tim Waldrop (Macomb, IL)
Margaret Weigel (Medford, MA)
Kaitlin Wilson-Bryant (Rochester, NY)
Perpetual Motion is a shrine to ritualized time. This hand-drawn film
celebrates the cyclical nature of time, and the symbols and rites which
have been created to mark and honor its passage. The film explores, in
constantly transforming images, the cycles of life, death and rebirth. It
presents the four elements of earth, water, fire and air, and depicts
characters in a ritualistic relationship to these elements.
Image: Perpetual Motion
Gili Avissar’s video explores cycles of life, death, growth, and decay
within the time-honored tradition of artistic self-portraits.
Image: Self-Portrait of the Dead Artist (video)
June (from the Journal Quilts Series): The heat continues, the depression
continues, the tiredness continues. I find it hard to believe that after
6 months of being depressed, I can’t get out of it. I can’t clear my
head. I look in the mirror and the image staring back at me is getting
more pale, more tired, more haggard. I now find no relief in sleeping.
The nightmares are too painful to take. Too close to home. I would
rather spend my nights awake, then have to face my fears in my sleep.
Image: Untitled (mixed media)
San Francisco, CA
I am seduced by the shiny and the new, things that are plastic and
artificial and every way. I am also seduced by the beauty of an object in
its own demise… My interest lies in using these materials to create
bubbly, animated objects, that will undergo a metamorphosis into a
pathetic, lifeless, shriveled piles of plastic and synthetic mass.
Image: Untitled (balloons, silicone, mirror, tape, thread, plexiglass rods)
Two events have been regular influences in my work: my father’s premature
death in 1999 and being diagnosed with hypertension in 2005. Themes of
loss, mortality, abnegation, and aging have been consistent throughout my
investigations. Currently, I am concerned with recontextualizing the image
of the modern male and the struggle to transcend typical masculine trends
like independence, dominance, and emotional intractability.
Image: Self-Portrait at the Dawn (oil on paper)
I feel that everything has a story behind it, and those collective stories
are what make up our identities. Epitaphs is a commemorative artwork where
I tribute to my relatives who have died, writing letters describing my
feelings and observations I remember about them. The closed envelopes are
letters yet to be written, addressed to my family members who are still
Image: Epitaphs (detail, cast handmade paper, Xerox transfer)
I locate beauty in the grotesque, the gaudy, and the unusual. It is for
this reason that my work pushes the limitations of taste and excess. I
focus on the particular facet of beauty that deals with the macabre, and
highlights the fragile and transient beauty of death and the passage of
Image: In the Grotto (mixed media)
Cerro Gordo, NC
My intention is to use my work to highlight the importance of authenticity
found in social situations, particularly in the communication and
interaction found in familial and romantic relationships. My interest lies
in the subtle nuances of everyday life.
Image: Mom with Books (digital print)
Skeletons represent a number of things to me, from my childhood fear of
them to my newfound fascination with their sleek smooth beauty and
intricate weavings of bone, creating a living architectural framework
inside flesh siding.
Image: Skeleton 7 (photographs & white pen on board)
Yarn is soft, easily broken, unassuming—usually found in quiet craft
practices. Crocheting and other needlecraft practices are incremental
systems that function as markers of time. My work transforms
preconceptions about yarn, reversing and subverting its linear structure.
Image: Spinning (video)
New York, NY
Everything that lives, dies. I am consumed with the dualities and ironies
of the human condition, and they become the focus of my exploration in the
studio. The human condition is to be borne into a skin, a physical body,
and to have to reconcile that existence via the intangibilities of
conscious thought. The studio itself is my physical locus of creation,
destruction, and duality. It is my tangible exploration of a philosophical
Image: Life on a Chain (oil on canvas)
Santa Catarina, Brazil
Part documentary, part fiction, Sons of Saturn is a bold narrative
experiment that tells a fictional story with the use of “real” archival
footage. Super 8, 16mm, video and photographs pertaining to an actual
family—a story of rags to riches to rags again, extending over the heroic
and tragic lives of three generations of men.
Image: Sons of Saturn (video still)
Questions of who, what, where, when and why are the existential axis
points of our human condition. The baby holds the potential, wonder and
fragility of our existence. The newborn has the presence of being in and
out of our world as well as being connected to the world beyond our reach.
Image: Awakening (image transfer & mixed media)
Grand Rapids, MI
Ann Mansolino’s photographs investigate memory, identity, time, and the
relation of self to family history through interactions with old images
and other objects. Through the inclusion of weathered spaces and of old
family photographs (of relatives long dead), current identity is seen as
inextricably bound up with the past.
Image: Untitled #2 (silver print)
I recently lost my both parents, one shortly after another. I’m a painter,
and in my works I reflect on this amazing subject: seeing your roots
driven away. Despite this unspeakable process of mixed feelings, in my
paintings I tried to speak.
Image: Man Watering Grave
I seek clarity through genuine experience. I edit to the essence of an
idea. I am a conceptual craftsman and deliberate designer. Oceans,
airplanes and meaning inspire my work. I now wander the globe creating
conceptual art and contemplating emptiness.
Image: Release Control (video still)
Intrigued with the subtle orchestration of a condensed color-value range,
I seek to grasp the illusiveness of emotive space by creating an
environment where light and air are tangible. The images are developed by
filtering through the accumulation of experience gathered while working
with Hospice patients; combining and overlapping multiple moments to
arrive at a singular image.
Image: Pulling Up (oil on paper on board)
My grandfather made maps, my mother followed them, and now they have been
passed on to me… My work explores the dichotomy between the human body
and topographical landscapes [and] evokes change, decay, infestation and
the transformation of time and landscape.
Image: Chronicle I, Map 10 (graphite, ink, dirty, pigment on paper)
Jamaica Plain, MA
Image: Boston State Hospital Abandoned (silver print)
Baldeen is a visual record of me, hairless, after chemotherapy...Through
making this work, I explored issues of identity, self-perception, and
changes in perception—issues that grew very important to me as I tried to
adjust to my new status and new identity as a cancer patient.
Image: Baldeen Self-Portrait (acrylic)
This image of my father’s aging process is a graphic portrayal of the
mental and physical deterioration that often accompanies the end of
life—an aspect of the aging process that is not often discussed. The
debilitating effect of dementia and loss of control over one’s body is
Image: Medical Appointments (Giclée print)
I am susceptible to images that facilitate desire and am deeply influenced
by popular culture. I idealize wealth, stability and glamour. I love the
idea of wearing a business-suit, dating a super-model, and living in a
state of fixed perfection. I know such things are ludicrous and phony, yet
the experience of desire reveals genuine and complicated emotions. I also
have a fascination with death and mortality. Why do we have to die? How do
we live well and celebrate life in spite of our planned obsolescence?
Where is the line between vitality and decay?
Image: Business Man #2
Mirage: A visual phenomenon that occurs with alternating layers of warm
and cool air near the ground or water surface. Instead of traveling
straight through the air, light is bent towards the cooler dense air
resulting in a complicated path that evinces a strange distant object.
Mirage is a project that considers these principles of light and
perception in relation to memory… I am interested in seeing how we
traverse the expanse from chaos to recognition, a passage that echoes our
own struggle for existence from nowhere.
Image: Untitled from Mirage Series (digital print)
Oak Ridge, NJ
“Resting Eyes” is a video that looks into the haze of memory; the dull
sting of humid summer days passed under ancient live oaks. As memories of
my grandfather fade, stories of his habits and personality struggle to
live on. He is remembered for the love of his hammock and how he excused
himself after dinner to “rest his eyes.
Image: Resting Eyes (video)
The basis of my work is autobiographical in nature. I often breach
standard topics like childhood, the home, marriage, family traditions, and
life/death issues. I choose to illustrate these ideas by focusing on
symbolic motifs which have the potential for several levels of
interpretation at once.
Image: Pulse (enamel on panel)
I love photography both for its power to reveal and to obscure, and
negotiating these two polarities is at the heart of its powerful appeal
for me… I snapped hundreds of pictures of Big Dig construction sites in
South Boston: bits of discarded wood, numerous empty water bottles, broken
equipment and abandoned debris. I then built several mandalas, metaphoric
maps of the world.
Image: Fallen (digital print)
These images represent the emergence of something that has been buried.
The light functions as a spotlight to reveal the submerged forms of hands…
they are the hands of my parents. They represent a legacy and an implied
history…This series speaks to not only my parent’s mortality but my own.
Image: Father, Cadence Series (archival inkjet print)