The pieces – appropriations of existent forms, exercises in material alchemy, and sometimes a combination of both – illustrate Atterbury’s fluid studio practice, which moves between picture making and object making. 3 Sets continues Atterbury’s exploration of personal history, language, and abstraction and where these points converge.
Within the exhibition we find familiar forms: a pool, a tennis court, hands, an eraser shield. Some of these forms are more obvious, while others are slower to reveal themselves. In Court, Atterbury gives dimension to the flat lines that comprise a tennis court, sitting the form upright so that we experience it as a window. This piece references the ready-made and nods to Ellsworth Kelly’s Window, Museum of Modern Art, Paris. An enlarged replica of an eraser shield is both a visual pun and a memorial to the original object it's modeled from – a gift and permanent fixture on Atterbury’s studio wall. Two ceramic hands are recognizable in form but ambiguous in source. These sculptural works represent a confluence of the real and the depicted. They are allegorical expressions, and they are props for a still life.
Two sculptures made with sand (a material Atterbury uses in her photographs) are among the more visually encrypted pieces and are also the most personal. The Well, Again (Pool), refers to a well into which Atterbury’s great-great-grandfather leapt to his death during China’s Boxer Rebellion. Let it go, let it go, let it go, borrows its shapes from the torn off tabs of storage bags for pumped breast milk, of which Atterbury amassed many in the studio while away from her young son.
Fascinated with the autonomy of the artifact – objects disassociated from their original function and context – Atterbury’s practice considers the distinction or lack thereof between artifact, prop, model and sculpture. The work in 3 Sets is not only symbolic and representative, but it demonstrates how history/memory and imagination conspire in generating abstract personal iconographies.
Elizabeth Atterbury (b. 1982, West Palm Beach, FL) received her BA from Hampshire College and her MFA from MassArt. Recent solo exhibitions include Document, Chicago; The Colby College Museum of Art, Waterville; kijidome, Boston. She has been included in group exhibitions at Et. al, San Francisco; Western Exhibitions, Chicago; TSA, Brooklyn; Bodega, Philadelphia/New York; KANSAS, New York; and The ICA at Maine College of Art, Portland, among others. This exhibition will be Atterbury’s first with Mrs. Atterbury lives and works in Portland, Maine.