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Showing posts from December, 2020

Melissa Stern at Firecat Projects, Chicago

  DUTCH SHOES, 27 inches high. Clay, wood, objects, charcoal, graphite Melissa Stern is a New York-based artist and writer who is exhibiting work at Firecat Projects in Chicago, in a solo show titled Does She or Doesn't She? The art consists of paintings, drawings, ceramic sculptures and found object assemblages, in all of which we see a common feature: hair. Specifically, a female face or head or form with the hair styled in every imaginable fashion (and probably some beyond imagining). The theme is both playful and serious. Serious, because the idea underpinning the subject matter is the way in which a woman's hair has, since time immemorial, been one of the key ways in which female identity is determined. The title of the show derives from an old advert for hair products, and the unsubtle message that when a woman "fixes" her hair, her personality is completed, which comes with the opposite corollary that "unfixed" hair leads to a socially incomplete wom

A Decade of Praeterita

It's actually eleven years and one day since I published my first post on this blog: that doesn't sound as bookendish as "decade", which clearly I forgot to celebrate a year ago. This is the text of what I published on December 21st, 2009: Praeterita was the title of the great English writer John Ruskin's reflections on his life. In a sense we are always looking backwards at things that are now past as soon as we try to describe our experience. Ruskin's choice of the Latin word, with its archaic and somewhat grandiose feeling, was well-suited to his manner of thought and his writing. I have chosen to echo it not just from philosophical principle, but because my work involves reflections on personal narrative - mostly a childhood growing up in an English mining town in the 1960s and 1970s. Ruskin also said that he would write "frankly, garrulously, and at ease; speaking of what it gives me joy to remember at any length I like ... and passing in total silen