The Front, an artist-run space in New Orleans’ Bywater neighborhood, opened its latest series of exhibitions last weekend, featuring new works by Rosalie Smith, Justin Tyler Bryant, Cheryl Hayes, and Ruth Owens.
Employing materials ranging from journal entries and used bandages to an unemployment check and fallen palms from Hurricane Zeta, Rosalie Smith’s Where I go provides a material record of particular moments in time. In Waking in Disney World 2003, I & II, Smith offers two intimate photographs of the artist’s mother and brother as they lie in repose in a hotel room. Taken on a disposable camera during a family trip to Disney World, the images are more like found objects: time capsules of moments that may have once felt mundane but are now layered with tenderness and nostalgia, a memory that has emerged out of the chaos of the present.
“I need a bath, I need to floss,” declares one of the journal entries pasted on the walls of Smith’s sculpture Ascension. “I’ll probably be awake until quite late tonight.” The wooden tower is enveloped in these reminders and reflections from Smith’s ‘Morning Pages’, a diaristic element of creative recovery that the artist practiced in the year following her mother’s death. Though Ascension serves as a metaphor for emotional removal—a playground-like structure to escape to in the midst of dissociation, scaffolded by the meditative practices that keep us rooted in the here and now.
This layering and fragmentation of time finds a more condensed form in Cheryl Hayes’ Vignettes. The artist works on a miniature scale; her paintings and drawings are reminiscent of the illustrative and surrealist qualities of the Chicago Imagists. Hayes slows down our pace of viewing, pulling our attention into a closer, more intimate space as we marvel at the intricate colors and adornments of each work. The Abyss Between a Familiar and Foreign Moment appears to collapse in on itself, collaging together an array of textures and landscapes. The piece is both meticulous and whimsical; what it lacks in size it makes up for in epic narrative. Like discovering the innerworkings of an ant hill, Hayes puts a magnifying glass on the seemingly small or insignificant and finds complex and thriving worlds therein.
New work by Rosalie Smith, Justin Taylor Bryant, Cheryl Hayes and Ruth Owens, is on view through December 6 at The Front in New Orleans.