By Maeghan Jeremiah
The current exhibition in Poole Gallery is described by the artist as, “A meditation on grief, the passage of time, the fleeting nature of joy, and the struggle to hold contradictory feelings simultaneously.”
An opening reception for Adrian Rhodes, a visiting artist from South Carolina,
was held on Sept. 8. The exhibition was named, “Never Mind All That.”
Although focused on printmaking, Rhodes utilized several different mediums in her artwork including graphite, lace, embroidery and more. Rhodes explained that no matter the medium she considers herself a drawer, even her sculptures are, “drawing in space.”
The inspiration for the work displayed is based on loss, anxiety and pain. Rhodes explained how she has had a lot of loss in her life and has experienced pain over and over again.
Members of Kelly Wacker’s Art History class claimed they were immersed in Rhodes heartache; they felt her anxiety and pain. This speaks to the artist’s wishes of creating a seamless environment for viewers to fully experience her work without disruption.
Some of her works are made onto the pages of the book, “The Art Thief.” She drew around select words in order to create a deeper meaning. At the reception Rhodes emphasized that reading the fine print is important and how the big picture can be deceiving. We see an example of this in her piece, “Believed by Someone Only Once.” At first all you see are the words, “Everything will be alright,” but in the original text it says, “believed by someone, only once.”
The exhibition has repeating figures and patterns throughout. In Rhodes’ artist statement listed on her website she explains, “I am interested in how this repetition of imagery and motif reflects recurring thought patterns and an unwillingness to move on.”
These reoccurring images of bees, knots and strings, observatories, paper airplanes, pomegranates, sky maps and stork scissors have significant meaning. At the reception, Rhodes explained the iconography of the persistent illustrations.
Rhodes explained, “Bees commonly represent bounty and industry, while the social structures of the hive reference the importance of matrilineal relationships. Honey is symbolic of the sweetness of life and the fruits of labor, qualities I emphasize in contrast to the concerns of loss and mortality.”
The knots and strings represent, “Anxiety, tension, and entanglement. Also, an allusion to the fable of the Gordian knot.” This fable is normally used as a metaphor for an out-of-control issue that is solved with ease by figuring out a solution that makes the problem’s alleged limits irrelevant.
When Rhodes spoke on the meaning of the observatories she explained, “Observatories are places of deep inquiry and sustained looking. I use them as an analogue to the studio practice, which is a philosophical search for understanding- a look for deeper questions rather than answers.”
The paper airplanes represent a longing. The planes are also, “whimsical and hopeful.” Rhodes used this saying whilst explaining the airplanes, “I fold my worries into paper planes, I turn them into flying f***s.”
The pomegranates are inspired by the tale of Persephone which include, “themes of mortality and loss while also alluding to the primacy of the mother daughter relationship. At the same time, pomegranates represent a bountiful profusion. The fruit’s multitude of seeds also holds symbolic power as a conveyer of fertility and abundance.” Rhodes also explains the violent nature of the fruit, when you cut into a pomegranate it appears to be bleeding.
The sky maps are a, “metaphor for an arrogant yet almost endearingly human understanding of the universe. I find this to be an act of both vanity and desperation- the vanity of thinking you can comprehend the infinite, and the desperation to feel that the universe is an orderly, and thus controllable, predictable, place. The arrangement of the stars has meaning only when standing on earth. From any other vantage, this arbitrary collection of points of light loses any supposed resemblance to its attributed mythological associations.” Rhodes explained how this speaks to the unknown and how loss can’t be controlled.
The stork scissors are there to represent creativity but also destruction. “They violently separate essential from nonessential. Traditionally used in embroidery, stork scissors were originally found in the kits of midwives and used for cutting and clamping umbilical cords.” Rhodes makes the connection of stork scissors relating to her becoming a mother but her mom not living to see her become one.
Rhodes’ work, although heavy in subject matter, has beautiful aspects to it. Rhodes explains the gold beading and gold paint in some of the works represent the beautiful moments in heartache. These qualities in the work speak to enjoying the good things in the midst of unfortunate times.
Some of the explanations given by Rhodes came from her online website. https://www.adrianrhodes.com/statement. This exhibition will be open until Oct. 13 at Poole Art Gallery in the Center for the Arts.