A Touch of Nostalgia

A corner of the room featuring Yvonne's Pans, Kim's Grandmother's Stool, and Kim's Broom

On Friday, the Fleisher Art Memorial in Philadelphia, PA opened its doors for the the 36th Annual Wind Challenge Exhibition, a group show featuring the works of painter Daniel Gerwin, stop-motion painted animation artist Ashley Wick, and mixed-media artist Kay Healy.

In this exhibition, Kay Healy has created large scale screenprints of furniture and other objects, printed on fabric, then stuffed and sewn and displayed as a single point perspective living space. Each object tells a personal story.

Walking through Healy’s exhibition space, I immediately felt a sense of nostalgia and preciousness. Not preciousness in the sense that the objects carried monetary value, but precious like the feelings that come to you when you visit your grandparents house and find your grandmother’s old wedding dress, or when you have to throw away that old coffee table that you’ve dragged from house to house for the past ten years. The objects are rich with memories and a longing for the past.

At the opening, Healy spoke about a step stool in the corner of the room. “This is Kim’s grandmother’s stool. Kim’s grandmother used to sit on this stool to talk to her friends during her ‘telephone hour’ every night.” Healy gestured to the stuffed telephone, which was placed, appropriately, arms length away. “This stool also doubled as a prayer bench where she would listen to gospels on the radio.”

Healy tells the stories with precision and tenderness. Each object is custom fashioned to the individual’s memory. Healy sits down with each person and has them describe the object, how it looked and its significance. She then uses these stories to create a literal representation of how that object was remembered. The object could be something that was broken or lost,it could have belonged to someones mother, it could even be something coveted for years but never owned. In a way, it feels like the objects exhibited do not belong to Healy even though she created them, rather they belong to the person whose story it tells.

Chatting with some of the viewers, what seems most striking to some is the fact that the work is from a single point perspective. “It’s like a memento,” notes artist Wayne Kleppe, “a literal recreation of the physical object would have a very different effect. The fact that we can only see it the way it was remembered means that the memory of the object is preserved rather than the object itself.” To add to that, having the images stuffed and stitched means that we can hold these precious memories, like a teddy bear or a safety blanket, and settle our nostalgia.

The exhibition is on view at Fleisher Art Memorial until October 26th.

For more information about the Fleisher Wind Challenge artists: http://www.fleisher.org/exhibitions/challenge.php

Frank's Bathtub, Kay's Bathroom Tile, and Leroy's Bathroom Mirror

Frank's Bathtub, Kay's Bathroom Tile, and Leroy's Bathroom Mirror

Tracey's Armchair, Peggy's Clock, Kim's Armchair, and Leroy's Side Table.

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Categories: Exhibitions

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