The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum

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Important Update

October 16, 2005, to March 12, 2006 |

Cyrilla Mozenter: More saints seen

More saints seen, a phrase from Gertrude Stein's libretto Four Saints in Three Acts, provided impetus for this series of drawings and sculptures.

The sculptures are vessel forms that evoke sacred ritual objects. They are made of seamed and stitched cream-colored industrial wool felt and include pencil drawing, toothpicks, pearls, pearl buttons, silver bugle beads, and wooden ice cream spoons found in the street. The pencil-drawn felt is stitched together by hand with pale grey silk thread, the ends of which are left to clump and dangle - exposed roots or nerve ends. While felt absorbs liquid, vessels by definition are able to contain it. These vessels cannot function as such, but instead have an absurd pale presence, that of ghosts or resurrected memories of these elemental and essential forms. Many of the vessels suggest (saintly) figures. Grouped, they seem characters in a play or dream, action momentarily suspended.

The drawings were developed from earlier works-on-paper: Very well saint, exhibited at The Drawing Center in 2000, and Cuts and Occasions, at Dieu Donné Papermill in 2002. Both projects incorporated words and phrases from Stein's writings. The drawing process begins with the stitching together of a double-layer of handmade paper. As in the three-dimensional work, the pale grey silk thread is a concrete line echoing and extending the pencil drawing - alluding to figures and vessels - into actual space. The drawings are also marked by cuts, (attempted) erasures, and the addition (or removal) of toothpicks, pearl buttons, and scraps of felt. Both felt and paper are sensitive and impressionable; whatever marks are made can never be completely eliminated. The work inevitably becomes a recording of its own coming into being.

The work emerges from an intuitive, improvisational process and hovers in the space between drawing and sculpture. It is in the tradition of iconic images. Cycladic idols, medieval tapestries, Fra Angelico's frescos, African divination figures, and Aboriginal cave painting are points of reference. The involvement, however, is not with a standardized symbolic system. Through an immersion in process a personal symbolism, which has reverberations beyond the self, is discovered and revealed.