In case you missed the window to view Virginia Folkestad’s exhibition, Noiseless Foot of Time, at the Sandra Phillips Gallery, allow me to share with you what I learned from my first encounter with both Folkestad’s work, and Sandra’s Gallery. During my visit, I had a lengthy conversation with Sandra Phillips about Virginia’s show. Sandra shared with me that the neutral tones throughout the work was very refreshing in the space, and offered a calm and contemplative tone throughout the space.
The Site-specific body of work completely wraps around the cozy space, beginning with a collection of vertical works on the left, and ending with a horizontal piece on the gallery’s storefront windowsill. Drawing references from a small collection of quotes, the works create a dialogue with time and nature through the interweaving of natural materials into the folding of mesh materials.
Moving clockwise around the show, The Path is the first piece the viewer encounters upon entering the gallery, the first of five “Scape” that reside on the west wall. The dramatic, yet elegant curves of the material draw one into the unfurling patterns. After taking a closer look, one notices the edges are embroidered with green knots. The “growth” of the thread accumulates in the folds, similarly to algae build up, and parallels once again with the accumulation of time. The overlapping arches of the mesh make the pattern more persistent, but less definitive, like a memory that is no less true even if the shape of it remains a little undefined.
Ranging around human height, each of these vertical scapes seems to reference human characteristics. With the top-heavy center of Never Less than Whole, to the grounded balance of Ever Changing, the personalities seem to attract a uniqueness onto each of themselves, while still remaining connected to the whole through likeness in materials and form. Although the personification is intriguing, the content of each scape always leads one back to the Earth. Never Twice the Same has several layers of mesh, waxed linen, and waxed paper; each with an alteration from the previous layer. Oak twigs secure themselves on the outermost layer, like the changing of seasons, or the years that one location can experience. Human interference seems more evident in the lower levels of the piece, but as it emerges the tree reasserts itself as the final resting state for the scape.
The restfulness that concludes Never Twice the Same speaks to the silence in the piece directly across from it, Mute, although this silence seems more intrusive than before. With dozens of cages, each containing a wrapped section of a fallen tree, the segmented and boxed-in branches feel suffocated through their bandages. The cages arise the question: Are our societies attentions misguided even if well meant? This protectiveness does not seem very productive to the well-ness of the tree for it keeps all the segments divided even with their proximity, like animals at a fair put on display in little boxes. Although the care and attention this tree received in its fallen state may have been well intended, it imposed a silence that is contrary to the original nature of a fallen tree. The complexity of connotations this piece holds is on its own admirable. One is left standing in contemplation which increases into curiosity with the consideration of its solitary placement on the floor.
Retracing back in the space, the back wall of the gallery houses three dimensional sketches, for how the rest of the pieces would find actuality. The intentional, yet playful manipulation of mesh, wire, other materials can be seen as the origins of ideas and thoughts in a lower commitment form. The presence of these experiments validates the success of the process in the final pieces, for the deliberation and intentionality of each fold and cut is unmistakable.
On the east wall of the gallery is a horizon of bead-like squares with boxes suspended above and below the implied line. The boxes beneath the line have “roots” of wire reaching to the floor, while the uppermost boxes contain an assortment of embroidered growth and mixed materials. What comes to mind is the containment of garden beds, or a tree-scape seen through little windows above and below ground. The limitations of the growth are overwhelmed in many of the boxes with the objects escaping their constrictions, while others sit comfortably within those same squares. With the consistent line of beads stretching through the intuitive display of boxes, it serves almost as a timeline with a varying tempo of passing, sometimes slow or quick depending on the spacing of the beads, that build up over time.
Unfortunately the exhibition could not stay open forever, but the next show may be just as rewarding to visit. Opening June 28th, In Search of Why We Draw, featuring works from Kate Woodliff O-Donnell, Joshua Fields, and Irene Delka Mccray.