Memory is a slippery thing: prismatic and shifting, it’s only grasped when viewed slightly askance. The guiding metaphor in the twelve-person group show “Trace/Memory” is—you guessed it—the trace: something that leaves a physical (and, in this case, psychological) imprint on the world that remains after the actual event has passed.
In the exhibition, Jelena Berenc’s drawings and mixed-media installations serve as records, or remnants, of private acts. In one, the artist stamped 11,929 fingerprints (one for each day of her life) onto a lengthy scroll of paper, each print making a different impression from the others. In Sarah Earle’s paintings, illegible words made by dragging a paintbrush tip or other pointed object across layers of encaustic appear as if bubbling on the surface of some primordial goo. Memory takes on a sedimentary texture in Jean Sousa’s digitally altered photographs of floating bodies, and is layered, sandwich-like, in luminous collages by ATYL (Alexandra Lee) that combine childhood snapshots with Hong Kong street scenes. ATYL captures the experience of looking simultaneously at and through a window in images that liken the chaotic cityscape’s optical dazzle to the illusory nature of memory itself.
Curators Beth Hart and Barbara Blades have a keen eye for visual poetry and, for the most part, have selected works that address their subject matter on personal rather than social or political levels. Were these choices less strong, the exhibition might feel constricting or indulgent, but instead their cumulative effect is like memory itself: elliptical, fragmented, and open to interpretation. (Claudine Isé)
Through February 15 at Evanston Art Center, 2603 Sheridan Rd.