The catalog essay that accompanies the exhibition “The Object of Nostalgia” opens with a lengthy Oscar Wilde quote, who insists that we must pay for our emotions, and despite post-modernism’s refutation of the sentimental, it is challenging at best to believe that we are personally paying for anything more than the technologies we hold in our hands to distract us from everything outside the purview of a screen.
Which is why this show caught my attention. Perhaps you, too, will disappear from the catastrophe of human existence and return to the bliss of a time when everyone you knew didn’t tweet their minutiae into space. You can remember how it felt to first understand that you had the ability to make a mark; that your hand could control this marvel, this tool called the “pencil.” You can recall the round-edged family photos which always appeared to be drowning in browns, yellows, drab greens and blues, and frequented by hairstyles you hoped would never resurface. Or maybe it’s just me, and because I’ve reflected—maybe longingly at times—on my own youth, I’ve been able to better gauge my adulthood. You can nearly smell the mothballs of your grandmother’s antique hope chest filled with blankets hand-knitted by relatives from the old country. You can experience how moments of perceptual history float up behind your eyes, a virtual “best” and “worst” greatest-hits of your life.
Marlene Alt’s “Home/Land: Moths to the Flame” is a beautiful, yes beautiful, collection of solid wax casts of vintage picture frames; the blue-violet vein’s in Brian Bishop’s encaustic on panel “Untitled (Futile)” are worth your lunch hour alone; Kathy High’s tiny digital screen on which cartoon mice scatter over and around the body of a nearly undressed but somewhat vague woman all under a perfectly blown glass dome is just so compelling that I can barely force myself to consider the ramifications of every single person in the world seeing it the way that I do. Or it could be I’m just sentimental, possibly for the last revolution we had. (Damien James)
Through February 20 at Columbia College’s A+D Gallery, 619 S. Wabash