Ostensibly, 9.11 Reflection presents work that engages in some way with the tragic, recent events from which it takes its name. At least that’s how it was billed. The exhibit, which includes work by UVA art faculty, seldom deals with 9/11 directly. In fact, a fair amount of work from the exhibit was created or at least begun well before September. Of course, it would be perfectly fair to accept that an artist could investigate his or her own work and find resonance in an event which post-dated that work. However, a few works from the exhibit take such an oblique stand that it’s really a stretch to find any reflection.
Adam Wolpa’s lithograph “Suppose You Ride Off” is a good example. Here, Wolpa shows the same gee-whiz irony and detached poses that characterized his recent Fayerweather exhibit, Condimentalism. In the lithograph, a grainy cowboy sits astride his grainy horse as a white swoop, like something connotating comic book movement, incongruously connects with the cowboy’s head. As in Condimentalism, Wolpa seems to be working with pop culture icons in ways that aren’t entirely clear.
Elizabeth Schoyer’s “Wallpaper” and “Closer” pairs have an equally hazy connection to 9/11. As the name of the former implies, Schoyer works with wallpaper-like designs— shapes that repeat over and over. Hers are hand-drawn and willfully imperfect repetitions, however. She also preserves what appears to be the ragged edge of a formerly notebook-bound piece of parchment. Schoyer’s four pieces do come in pairs, a twinning theme that, however loosely, reminds one of the Trade Center towers.
That twinned theme runs through a few other works in the exhibit, including Dean Dass’s “Rocket.” Dass contributed two distinct works with the same name. Dass’s surfaces are pink, wrinkled, worried, and water-stained, and both canvasses keep long segmented shapes at their center, with auras like comet tails. The centered forms, vertically oriented, can actually suggest the outline of lurching towers.
A few works actually have names taken from the now-infamous date, which, intended or not, saddles a piece with a lot of baggage. Landscape painter Richard Crozier has titled his sole contribution “9/11/01,” and then leaves it up to the viewer to guess the connection. It’s a typical landscape for him: a hazy treescape of blotchy brushwork under a robin’s egg-blue sky. Two trees, distantly spaced, seem to sit apart from the background. There are also a pair of tire tracks cut into the sloping hill. They could conceivably be references to 9/11. Even so, was it fair for Crozier to give his landscape a title with so much weight?
9.11 Reflection moves (with different artists) on February 22 from Les Yeux du Monde to the Fayerweather Gallery on Rugby Road. 924-6123.