Thinking Twice About What You Know

Liz Patterson at Shift Gallery through Sept. 2nd, 2017

Stephanie Hargrave

Curator Liz Patterson has created a show at Shift Gallery that includes five artists. The title? Untitled. The content? Intriguing. It’s the kind of show that is best seen when you can spend some time. The pieces invite study. They range from curious and unusual to quiet, and include sculpture, written word, video, photographs, and prints. Oh, and an entire grand piano was deconstructed. Truly. Leave some time.

As an instructor of Art & Design History, Liz spends days categorizing works into neatly curated lectures. Yet, she is well aware that between the lines – between the rules – lies another kind of work. Work that is deliberately disruptive, plays in the space between the lines, and refuses to fit neatly. The result of combining these particular artists results in a show that transforms meaning. Each artist asks you to think twice about what you already know. The show brings together artists who subvert, deconstruct, and make work that is purposefully invisible, inaudible, and illegible.

Patrice Donohue’s light hued sculpture of paper, fabric and wax called My First Novel features pages tied together, almost bandage like. Pam Galvani’s calligraphy-based monotypes are unreadable and intriguing with titles like Explaining and Capanacce. Ruth Marie Tomlinson’s 88 is a dismantled Sohmer & Company Cupid baby grand piano, each piece meticulously separated from the 555-lb. antique walnut original. Identification tags hang alongside piano keys, cover hinges, hammers, and felt spacers. Some have hand lettering going back to 1923, the year the piano was made. Nathan Vass shows two analog photographs, one sepia toned, one in vibrant blue hues, with an accompanying blog post taking more wall space than the images themselves. And lastly, Stephen Sewell’s How to Purposefully Forget Things. At Shift, we see a video of what was originally a performance piece. Sewell describes the work as “a performance lecture/self-help seminar intended to empower individuals with the knowledge required to willfully forget.” Taking a cue from a WikiHow article by the same name, the performance combines a multi-media presentation, audience participation, and humor to examine the role that absence plays in our everyday lives, memory as a form of architecture, and the function of images and technology in constructing and reinforcing memory.

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