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Three Artists in Dialogue with the Past

October 18, 2013November 24, 2013

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Three Artists in Dialogue with the Past is an exhibition of works by three contemporary artists who engage the imagery and ideas of the mid-twentieth century and of earlier eras. Working each in a different medium, they create and critique images and narratives of the past, both imagined and historical, drawing viewers into worlds that are strange yet feel familiar, or look familiar yet feel strange. As viewers, we are led into dialogues with ourselves and with history as we confront anew the power of stories and images to shape our perceptions and convictions.

The title of Gabrielle Barzaghi’s major new work How to Stay Alive in the Woods[/tglink], a grid of fifteen drawings, refers to a wilderness survival manual published in 1956.  Her Paleolithic Picnic series of nine drawings illuminating a world that is dim, primeval, and as familiar as a myth.

Nadine Boughton stitches together imagery from the popular magazines of 1945–1965 into witty and trenchant collages that blend nostalgia for the past with the darkness beneath the pleasures of modern living. Her series of eight collages titled The Pleasures of Modern Living is displayed in the Vault Room.

Susan Erony’s painting The History of Eugenics, Part I is a copy of an eighteenth-century drawing by Dutch anatomist Petrus Camper showing a “progression” from ape to ideal human. Her work prompts solemn consideration of the perils of transplanting ideas between cultures, of our appetite for reason and order, and of both the powers and the limitations of visual images.