Sheryl Dudley Field Notes

By November 28, 2016Exhibitions

December 3 – 23, 2016

Reception: December 3, 2-5 PM

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After several previous bodies of work that explore family history as far back as the American Civil War, Sheryl Dudley jumps forward to her own childhood in the 1950’s, U.S.A. – a time punctuated by the looming threat of the atom bomb, duck & cover exercises and fallout shelters. She expresses this period in a series of visually abstracted metaphors of a remembered state of mind.

“Field Notes” refers to a gully in a forgotten strip of land a few miles long with a stream running through – a place where summers were spent gathering materials and building forts. It grew like a shantytown and periodically workers were sent in to clear away the ‘debris’. Structures were made up of all kinds of found materials: cast-off cardboards and ‘skids’ from a dumpster behind the supermarket, or lumber and corrugated metal from nearby building sites. A stash of old storm windows found in a basement and dragged down to the gully was meant to be the castle but proved too rickety to inhabit. Another made of steel mesh stretched out into a full circle with wildflowers and tall grasses woven through the openings became the most memorable for its fragrance and filtered light.

Several decades later a shopper reaches down to pick up her bag set below a magazine rack and notices something the Indigo team has missed. A sticky substance smeared across the bottom shelf – more than likely a soft drink knocked over and abandoned. Eventually a magazine carelessly tossed down on top of the spill stuck. Two years later, only a ghost of it remains plastered to the bottom ledge – an ambiguous residue of its back cover.

Could there possibly be a subject more banal? It is what we make of things that interest the artist: a bit of trash stuck to a shelf triggers a memory. Vivid imaginings take hold and it becomes greater than a recollection by morphing into a specific time and place. And then a gang of neighborhood kids appears and they start rummaging through backyards and garbage bins for stuff for building and invention. And so, while an idea for a new project springs to mind that takes her way back in time, the final result looks nothing at all like the past. As shadows flit in the night, memory is an elusive construct, often ending up resting in an un-nameable place and time.

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