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the magical thinking we attach to our things
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On view May 12, 2022 – June 14, 2022

Featuring works by Adrienne Shishko & Suzanne Moseley
Co-curated by Adrienne Shishko & Casey Curry

 
 
 
 
 

Artists Adrienne Shishko and Suzanne Moseley unveil how we use objects to express our identity, connect to the past, and imagine our future – to both beautiful and detrimental effect. In this work, viewers are asked to see objects, not as purely inanimate, but something far more lively.  They are invited to explore the energy objects exude and elicit and the ways they influence our decisions, spark our desires and nurture deep attachments. 

 

The objects that made their way into these artworks were carefully curated. And yet, once in the studio, each object was transformed – cut, dyed, twisted, or painted to the edge of recognition. This push and pull, representative of each artist’s practice, is at the crux of what this work asks us to consider. It makes the compelling claim that the more we understand about the power that objects hold over us, the more we can make choices that honor our history, our sense of self, and our own wellbeing, without falling prey to the burden that objects can become when we have too many, the wrong ones, or not enough.  

 

The following sections look at the ways that objects impact our lives and suggest the spectrums of influence they have: from artifacts connecting us to the past to visions that pave the way toward our future, from burdens we carry to the privileges that underpin so much of what we amass.

OBJECT AS

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artifact

 

Personal artifacts are objects that hold the history relevant to a particular individual. They can include objects of adornment or objects used for daily rituals and caretaking. They can be objects of ancestral significance, mementos marking time or simply collected and treasured for one’s unique amusement. These items serve to represent ourselves to ourselves, reminding us of our identity. And yet, they can come to represent us to others as well. Our link to these objects in life allows them to stand in for us upon our death. Of course death is not the only way that objects become embedded with a personal intrinsic value. Anything that marks a significant moment in our lives, that has the capacity to teleport us back to that moment, to those feelings and sensations, holds a similar power over us.

OBJECT AS

vision

If I have… then I will become…

Unlike artifacts which are linked to the past, we also imbue objects with the ability to move us towards a desired future. New chapters in life are often marked by new possessions that we acquire to ground and anchor our new reality. But sometimes we give these objects too much power; we begin to see the object as the pathway to the new life rather than a marker of our arrival. But these aspirational purchases do not always keep their promises. The grandiose promises that objects embody can blind us to the cost of those objects on ourselves and the environment, and can in turn spark a vicious cycle of materialistic possession obsession where we consume more to fill the void left when those promises are broken. The internet has made it so easy to shop from home. These ubiquitous Amazon packages arrive almost daily, over packaged in cardboard boxes, filled with more stuffing, and secured by plastic strapping. The result is a world riddled with hollow objects that hold no meaning in our lives, take up space and resources, hugely affect the state of the environment, and rarely actually bring us fulfillment.

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OBJECT AS

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burden

 

The cost of amassing objects reaches deep into our psyches when clutter makes our lives more complicated, compromising our physical space, and in turn our mental space. To save us from drowning in the consequences of our consumption, we are encouraged to buy more things to contain our things or employ the “Kondo method” to get rid of things. Cultural solutions such as the minimalist movement and Swedish death cleaning, the concept of decluttering one’s home before death to lessen the burden of your loved ones after you've passed, have also begun to find an audience. Sadly though, the planet is already “drowning” in textile waste, effluent from textile processing, plastic waste on land, and microplastics in the food chain.

Other efforts to try to deal with this issue include movements that promote recycling to turn plastic and paper into new products, rather than using more virgin materials. The art we are making by repurposing materials rather than using traditional art supplies is one such small effort. But sadly, no more than 9% of plastic has EVER been recycled despite the false marketing by the plastic industry! Their business is predicated on using virgin petroleum to maintain their profits and as society’s materialism continues to expand, these efforts to change our behavior fall short and the burden of objects on the world as a whole looms ever larger with each day that we fail to take action.

OBJECT AS

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privilege

 

While objects come with consequences, this does not eclipse the great benefits they bring into our lives if we have the privilege of acquiring them. Of course the privilege of possessing objects of value, both intrinsic and extrinsic, is not shared equally. Objects require space. They require time and money to acquire and maintain them. The freedom to purge possessions periodically, knowing that you can replace things as needed if the time comes, is a feeling foreign to many. The ability to purchase tools when we need them, to take our objects with us when we move, and to seize opportunities to collect objects we find meaningful are privileges experienced unequally. 

 

Further, our ability to acquire objects can lend us additional privileges. Objects can serve as status symbols demarking our position in society. Objects like headstones and heirlooms can offer us the assurance that we will be remembered by future generations. Even works like those on view, which reclaim objects, and transform them into artwork, embody the privilege of time to keep these materials from landfills. Even in the disposal of our unwanted objects, privilege plays an important role in where they end up and whether they become a hollow burden or a hallowed artifact.

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OBJECT AS

contradiction

From artifact to vision; from burden to privilege, most objects fall into the gray areas in between hollow and hallowed. They can be both a privilege and a burden, both a treasured memento and an empty promise. They can be beautiful tools that help us reach our goals while simultaneously stripping the planet of its natural resources. Our relationship with these things that fill our lives is complicated. It is up to each one of us to make intentional choices about which objects we bring into our lives and the degree to which we allow ourselves to become enmeshed. These choices are both personal and deeply influenced by forces outside our control. The goal is not to criticize our desires and attachments, but to work to understand what is at stake so that we can make more informed choices about how we engage objects. It is possible to live with objects in a way that honors our history, our sense of self, and our own wellbeing, without falling prey to the burden that objects can become when we have too many, the wrong ones, or not enough.

VISIT

The gallery is open every Wednesday - Friday, 12-4pm and Saturday and Sunday from 12-6pm and by appointment. The gallery will also be open and the artists will be on site to talk about the work one hour before each of the special  events. All events are free and open to the public, but we request that you RSVP in advance through Eventbrite.