Possible Subject Positions – Closing Events
This exhibition tantalized the senses of gallery visitors with enormous abstract paintings, wallpaper made out of love notes, texture-rich figurative plaster sculptures, curious poetic sound installations, and almost touchable fabric pieces.
Possible Subject Positions opened with an exciting visit of Masary Studio’s Sound Sculpture, which we wrote about in our November blog post. This musical, interactive sculpture made of large cubes that change color was part of the opening reception (check out photos from the exhibition and all of our events on our Flickr page). This exhibition closed with a flurry of excitement as well. During the final days of Possible Subject Positions we welcomed artists Adriane Herman and Merill Comeau to the gallery and they both generously shared their time and talents with our visitors.
Adriane Herman Gallery Visit
Love notes, to do lists, reminders… Adriane Herman’s list-based work captures the self through everyday language. Through her work, she “studies accumulation and release in our physical and emotional landscapes.”
On February 1st, Adriane started her day in the Lamont Gallery meeting with students from Tara Lewis’ printmaking and Cheryl St Onge’s photography classes.
Students looked closely at Adriane’s silkscreen Passion Aggression and she explained how she created this silkscreen with students who are currently learning about this process. They also talked about why she is drawn to lists and together they deconstructed a list from Adriane’s collection to gain clues about the person who wrote it, when it may have been written and why.
They then moved on to Adriane’s piece Inhale/Ex-hail (Love Is All Around). This wallpaper, hung floor to ceiling, filled one of the smaller bays of the gallery and is completely comprised of love notes. Herman talked about the process of gathering these notes – many from strangers – and the importance of these moments and familiar parts of people’s lives.
Lunchtime Lists & Letting Go:
Shortly after these class visits, Adriane led a lunchtime talk about her work in Possible Subject Positions as well as other projects dealing with the human need and desire to let go. Students and employees at Phillips Exeter as well as members from the local community joined in to learn about her various works and ask questions about her process and projects. She even turned the event into an impromptu lesson on how to create a zine and many visitors left with their own little piece of her work.
Embodying Possible Subject Positions
Earlier in the week, students in Allison Duke and Amberlee Darling’s dance classes spent time in the gallery viewing and learning about the work in Possible Subject Positions. They each selected a piece that they felt strongly about and over the week choreographed a short dance in response to the piece. Many students chose work by Adriane Herman, finding narratives and human emotions that they could relate to in the lists and notes.
Students performed the dance during a free period where PEA community members could come to the gallery and experience this interdisciplinary collaboration between visual art and dance. Luckily Adriane was here as well to see the performances inspired by her work.
Two dancers created piece based on Adriane’s silkscreen Passion Aggression. The note in this piece is from a mother to a child listing all of the things he/she needs to do that day. These dancers imagined how the child must have felt reading the note and created a dance that expressed some sadness and feelings of being overwhelmed. Adriane really appreciated seeing this point of view since she had read the note from the perspective of the mother who wrote it.
Other dancers explored themes that they found in the exhibition such as love, the power struggles in a relationship and even mortality and choreographed pieces based on these concepts.
Workshop with Merill Comeau
How we look on the outside – how we dress and choose to present ourselves – is not always the same as what we feel on the inside. In her piece, Foundational Garments, Merill Comeau altered, reassembled, stitched, and embellished simple shirts as an exploration of family stories and expectations for women’s behavior.
Fabric of Identity:
On the next to the last evening of the exhibition, a small group of people gathered in the Lamont Gallery for an altered clothing workshops led by Merill Comeau. Students, employees and local community members – all with various levels of sewing or art-making experience – joined us for an amazing hands-on workshop to create an altered piece of clothing that related to the makers and how they wished to express something about themselves.
Merill began the workshop by sharing images of other artists’ works and inviting participants to share what they saw or thought about the works. The focus was on observation and thinking about the various ways that a theme or idea could be expressed through color, texture, material, etc.
Workshop participants then took a more in-depth look at Merill’s Foundational Garments piece. The following is a description of this piece written by Ellie Locke, a Lamont Gallery Student Proctor :
“Merill Comeau’s piece ‘Foundational Garments’ explores the ways in which women are expected to act. Working with blouses discarded by her deceased mother, Comeau dismantles her childhood experiences and then reconstructs them, literally destroying and reassembling objects from her past. She takes the white, clean cut shirts apart stitch by stitch, undoing a childhood laced with critique and assumptions, only to fully reconstruct the garments, incorporating embellishments that reveal how the experiences of her youth have shaped her.”
It was finally time to get to work! Participants selected items of clothing to alter and chose from an array of materials that Merill brought to share – sewing notions, paint, stamps, markers, and more. Everyone found a comfortable spot in the gallery and began to work on their piece. The challenge was thinking about how to visually represent their ideas and how to project some aspect of themselves onto these white shirts and dresses.
We saw painted gardens transform simple white t-shirts, seams being let out to deconstruct structured men’s dress shirts, fanciful shoulder cuffs with tassels added to the shoulders of a simple jacket, and many more creations added to alter these garments. Merill offered support and ideas to all of the participants. Some people worked together – offering advice on colors and materials. Those with more sewing experience shared their knowledge with others to help them accomplish their ideas.
By the end of the workshop participants reluctantly cleaned up – everyone wanted to keep working. Everyone shared their works with each other and talked about the process, their ideas and approach. Some pieces were close to complete but many people took home some additional materials with big plans to complete the works that were started in this workshop. Merill even came back the following day to help a student learn how to use a sewing machine for the very first time.
Class visits, luncheons, dance performances and hands-on workshops! We certainly feel like this was a great way to end this exhibition and we hope our gallery visitors agree.
– Stacey Durand, Lamont Gallery Manager