Standing quietly in the midst of a speedy Allston intersection, the Harvard Ed Portal windows open up the processes of artists to the world. From the outside, sculptors are seen sculpting and painters are seen painting with complete transparency- an intimacy that is separated by a thin layer of glass. If you find yourself wandering inside the Crossings Gallery, expect artists Chloe DuBois and Renée Silva to take you through a journey of selfhood with the same level of intimacy and transparency. By combining their paintings and sculptures, Matter of Intention navigates the physical and mental worlds of the self into an immersive goose-bumping exhibition.
Allston-based sculptor, Chloe DuBois, explores the physical world through her inventive use of textures and movement. DuBois’ juxtaposition of materials like wood, livestock fences, and burlap creates a “visual language”. This language is chiefly informed by DuBois’ past and especially by her role as a working class individual. In sculptures such as Borders/Limits the strength of the metal contrasts the fragility of the fabric.The stitching and stretching of the fabric generates the tension that exists when we encounter restrictions. DuBois says that beyond the fence lies, “our own realization that we create our own limits”, which we can fix if we become aware of the barrier. The fabric and its rigidity, however, obstructs what exists beyond- and it is evident in the sculpture that sometimes another limitation is behind the first one.
Them and Us, is by far DuBois’ most enigmatic piece. Individual bullet shell casings are used as vessels for turf, which suggests a history of violence underneath growing grass. However, the use of turf adds more mystery- is fake grass a nod at fake security and peace? Is violence a constant in the creation and maintenance of human-made systems? DuBois expresses distaste for the political games in which “unfortunately innocent lives have become the ball that gets passed around”. DuBois cites Them and Us as one of her most articulate works since it possesses the quality of being “limitless” due to the multiple bullets and its connections with second amendment rights. The violence, therefore, seems to become unyielding and self propagating when the bullets can multiply.
Providence-based painter Renée Silva journeys into the inner world of dreams and removed inhibitions through comical, sexual, and dreamy subjects. [She skillfully combines the ideas of childhood and abstract painting as a way to understand cognitive development through basic shapes and colors.] Silva threads images of nighttime into her paintings such as Goodnight Moon Feat. Gucci Mane (cheeseburger plate) and Two Coopers. Silva surmises the nighttime in one word- sexiness. To her, the nighttime is an environment for hedonism and indulgence. The night is also when Silva enters her dreams and draws inspiration for her works.
In the gallery, Two Coopers stands out for its use of bright colors and negative space. Compared to her other pieces, the process of this painting was backwards for Silva, driving her mad as she worked on it. She also incorporates ambiguous shapes that she calls “meat flowers”. [Meat and flowers are seemingly disconnected, but Silva indulges in this miscommunication and finds out how they relate formally and culturally.] “I’m thinking about the limits of a verbal language in regards to the complexity of ideas, emotions, existences. My forms and ideas are made vague and abstracted. This is what interests me in hybridity.” Because of the colors, the paintings become more about what the viewer sees and what meanings they can derive. Silva emphasizes that through her work, she is “dealing with symbolism, critiquing which are universal” in order to observe how their meanings change with differing situations.
Whether interested in the “meat flowers”, physicality, or the overall dreamlike vibes of the exhibition, the visit will be worth it! If you can make it prepare to be perplexed and maybe even haunted as the physical self and inner self meld and morph.
The Matter of Intention exhibition will be held at the Crossings Galley
Harvard Ed Portal, 224 Western Ave., Allston until October 4th
A closing reception will be held on the 4th from 5 to 7