I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions.
Whatever I see I swallow immediately
Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike.
I am not cruel, only truthful‚
The eye of a little god, four-cornered.
From Mirror (1961) by Sylvia Plath.
Plath's poem takes a mirror's point of view as it encounters a woman as she transforms over the years. The poet captures the mirror’s neutrality and the pain it causes its subject. Her angst and despair are the obverse of Narcissus’ pleasure in his own image, and a counter-narrative to psychoanalytic theories about identity forming through an idealized reflected image.
I Am Silver comprises a portraits that involve refraction, doubling, and detachment. In some works, arms, legs, hands, or mouths are freed from bodies; in others, characters appear unmoored from conventional definition, as if their personas have been launched into a symbolic realm that is at once familiar, disruptive, and dramatic. Collective cultural memories fill spaces where the self has been abstracted, fractured, or fragmented.
Justin Vivian Bond's watercolor diptychs pair the artist with the 1970s and ‘80s model Karen Graham. The double portraits are almost, but not quite, mirror images of one another. For the teenage Bond, Graham, as the face of Estée Lauder cosmetics, was an ideal figure that was, nevertheless, deeply implicated within the aspirational ploys of advertising . The works’ near-doublings express transformational desire and poignantly underline the difference between star and fan, between an ideal and an evolving self.
Chelsea Culprit's figures seem to be in the throes transformation and disjunction. Like palimpsests, they appear upon layers of white worn canvases that started life as drop cloths on her studio floor. Watermelon Crawl has a cartoon-like single arm with two hands, one green with colored nails like a female Grinch, and the other in shades of pink; between them float a pair of purple lips. Genie has a similar structure, except that one hand holds a smoking cigar, and that here image and background compete with one another in terms of color and definition. Solita also has a tension between its figure and the field it appears upon: a line-drawn, semi-naked woman seems constrained into the work’s frame, her body is a map of actions from the artist’s studio.
Anna Glantz's paintings use a variety archetypes and visual registers to explore cultural memory. In Sphinx, the upper body of a man looks upwards, in the darkness, toward a series of trumpet-shapes, while a green planet or star shines in the distance. With echoes of Magritte, the painting is also reminiscent of a 1970s science fiction book-cover or a Tarkovsky film poster. Two By Two, which has a more illustrative style, mixes popular American historical references from Paul Revere to the noble hobo. The images overlay a Turneresque background of subtly colored luminescence, while are overlaid upon in turn by colored clovers that seem to have sprung from a greeting card.
Becky Kolsrud’s portraits project and refract popular representations of women. Her two works on canvas recall pulp fiction covers: beguiling women peer out from behind screens. The subjects’ eyes are variously colored or dizzyingly doubled. As if seen through a prism, Double Portrait depicts a glamorous woman whose face turns within herself
Kiki Kogelnik moved through abstraction and Pop to produce a unique take upon the representation of the body. A small portrait in vibrant colors from 1972 has a highly- stylized, other-worldly sensibility. A drawing and a painting, both from 1966, combine fragmented body parts and series of patterning: the former, Robots, has sets of legs connected by colorful orbs and lines of dots that appear to form a profile; the latter, Untitled (Still life with hands), has an air of communal jubilation: hands energetically project upwards toward sets of radiant circles.
Sojourner Truth Parsons’ paintings of mysterious women, like Holbein portraits, include assorted objects that tell the subject’s story, except her stories remain tantalizingly ambiguous. Her large work in the exhibition comprises a white hound, an ornate table, what may be upended cups and vases, and a pink, nude woman who has an arm and a foot blocked out by a black background. Areas of differently applied paint and patterned collaging intensify the work’s sense of a fragmented, enigmatic identity.