Friday, November 8, 2013

Diane Burko & Rachel Farmer

This is an action packed weekend. Wednesday evening started at the Zimmerli Art Museum on the campus of Rutgers University in New Brunswick with Diane Burko presenting her Antarctic and Arctic works. The presentation was entitled "Freeze Frame: Art and the Cryosphere."

Diane Burko along with her husband, Richard Ryan, were on The Arctic Circle residency. As always, Diane gives a dynamic, informative and entertaining presentation. The show featured  her photographs as well as her large scaled paintings. The exhibit is up until  Jul 31, 2014.

It was a blast to see Diane and Richard again and talk ice and snow. Like Richard said, The Arctic Circle residency seems like a dream now. 

Thursday night was our first AIR Gallery Fellow's exhibit- Rachel Farmer. Her exhibit entitled, Ancestors, showcased hand-­‐built ceramic sculptures of pioneer women in various poses of work and rest. Of course, these women command attention because of Rachel's gray walls.  

Farmer accompanied the tiny sculptures with several  video scenes of them in the landscapes of the west. Interestingly enough, my favorite video was of the pioneer women set in a field of lush green grass with the mountains in the background. Slowly, I noticed that the scene is a contemporary one with a lawn mower cutting the grass in the field. Somehow, though, the figures, although clearly not of this century, felt oddly at home. Later I learned that this scene was from Rachel's home. Ironic how the figures resonated comfort and security in the video. 

this is a clip of the figures on the pioneer trail, but not of Rachel's hometown

In the press release for Rachel's exhibit, she asks many questions - like what is our inheritance from our ancestors and how does one's current identity become woven into that ancestral history. I have no answers for her, but instead I shared with her one of my favorite poet's thoughts on ancestors.

David Whyte, “Ancestral,” from the book River Flow: New & Selected Poems

Far up and off
behind my mother’s voice
my mother’s mother’s voice,
like a lark call
above the dark meadows
of sleep,
a high up
pure and
sudden annunciation,
a strain she’d carried all along
and me caught
in the song,
off to other voices
my father’s, father’s,
father’s work
in the fields
over Harshead,
my mother’s father’s father
from village to village
and the body of my father’s brother
rolling in the
channel tides.

Each life a traveler
not yet really arrived
like passing strangers
the lanterns
half cloaked
showing a glimmer
at the doors
of the living,
looking for
half wanting
to stumble on
beyond us
to what waits,
some place perhaps
in the brimming dark
the story ends.

So I wonder what invisible gifts do these women carry for Rachel in their wagons?


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