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Small Works Salon 2015: Word + Image


Small Works Salon 2015 at the Chandler Gallery Celebrates Text in Art

This exhibit includes a little light reading. The pieces in “Small Works Salon 2015: Word + Image” at the Chandler Gallery incorporate signs, poems, memos, receipts, and sometimes whole pages of text into 2D and 3D works. Juried by Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons, a distinguished artist and professor at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, this salon blurs the boundaries between writing and visual art.

Often the words provide a caption or suggest a narrative for the image. In Chuck Beisch’s “Connecting the Dots,” the words above the faceless outline of a young black man read “Under Suspicion.” Michelle Saffran’s “Heavy Pressure” juxtaposes the photograph of a smiling young white woman with phrases on torn scraps of paper that indicate silent suffering. The photograph is repeated, cropped and reversed, adding visual testimony to the words. Gary Duehr presents an ambiguous image in “SORRY Disaster”: a blurred face behind frosted glass. But the words beside the picture are an apology for not “scream[ing] into your face: We’re Lost! Run! Our lives are in danger!” The text adds a backstory while retaining the work’s mysterious quality by raising more questions than it answers.

Sometimes the words are part of the medium. “Hollow Word” by Jeanette O’Connor is a roughly rectangular structure made of shredded newspaper. The use of reading matter as construction material is significant to the piece, but the words themselves (most of them are indecipherable) are not the focus. Michele Fandel Bonner’s “Taliswomen” series features dolls sewn from clothing labels. When separated from the garments they were intended to describe, phrases such as “Perfect Fit” and “Made in Vietnam” take on new meanings.

Finally, “Fizzy Dreams in Percentages” by Tania Sen uses the words themselves as images: Red letters in the style of the Coke logo spell out “Ninenty9-Percent” right side up across two ceramic plates and “One-Percent” upside-down across a single plate. This work, like many others in the show, demonstrates how effective the combination of word and image is as a vehicle for political or social commentary.

“Small Works Salon 2015: Word + Image” is on display at the Chandler Gallery April 10-May 15 with an opening reception on Sunday, April 12, from 3-5pm. Maud Morgan Arts is a program under the umbrella of the Agassiz Baldwin Community, a private non-profit organization with a forty-year history of quality programs and services in the Cambridge community. Maud Morgan Arts comprises a full arts program of classes and workshops for all ages, the Chandler Gallery, and a collection of original art by noted artist and community resident Maud Morgan (1903-1999). The agency works to reflect the diversity and talents of the community, bringing people together to make art, share art, and support visual arts education.