Exhibited last week at Desotorow Gallery, Tina Diamond's "C'est Moi" was a solo show of self-portraits that offered a nice comparison between photographic substrates, or the base materials that support photographic images. Along with a looping video montage, photographs transferred onto glass and printed onto silk were Diamond's means of exploring self-formation through self-portraiture. These materials proved an interesting take on that genre, universal as the practice of taking a "selfie" is in a world teeming with smartphones equipped with front-facing cameras.
"I wanted to explore self-discovery and express finding yourself as a process using a really beautiful form," said the Dallas native at the show's reception Friday, April 19. "Through the glass transfers I wanted to convey deconstruction and re-assembly. The silk is almost transparent, and with my self-portrait, it's like you can see right through me—it represents a struggle with identity and the process of coming to contentment and acceptance."
"C'est Moi" featured selections from three bodies of work completed over the last six months. Suggesting fragility, six large-scale silk prints from the series "Transparent" rippled as each viewer ambled about the gallery and as the stormy Friday evening wind gusted through the propped gallery entrance. Placed between each silk photograph, the small transfers from the series "Mangled" were shattered glass self-portraits Diamond carefully reassembled by bonding fragments using a gel medium and backing them with cut wood painted white.
The reconstructed images, insistent on resisting fragmentation, contrasted the soft silk prints, achieving a juxtaposition that implied an alternating diminishment and reassertion of the artist's presence in the work.
Topping off the exhibition, the frenetic video titled "Scattered" played on loop. Montaging Diamond's recorded idiosyncratic movements with shots of a flinching hedgehog, the video literalized the "Mangled" images' references to self-protection.
Comprising major categories of fine art (from Rembrandt's 17th Century self-portraits to Cindy Sherman's 1970s film stills) and pop culture (how about Amanda Bynes's Twitter self-documentation?), "selfies" are ubiquitous in our visual culture, particularly in digital form. Given that, it's always nice to see well-crafted printed objects that materially work through concepts like identity and self-assembly.
Catching up with Clinton Edminster
New Desotorow Gallery Director Clinton Edminster took some time at the "C'est Moi" reception to talk about the gallery's upcoming events. Their next show, "Redux," will gather environmentally engaging works by artists from across the country. The show's opening reception starts at 6 p.m. Friday, April 26.
From 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. the following Thursday, May 2, Desotorow is calling all artists to gather at the Starland Dairy, which is across the street from the gallery, to hang their artwork for this year's "These Friends Too" event. Almost 70 artists were featured in last year's "These Friends," an impressive number Edminister hopes to top this year. For a $5 installation fee, artists can hang their work, set their own sales price and collect 100 percent of earnings from any works sold.
All are invited to attend the night's festivities, which include free pizza, graffiti art, music and making costumes, hats and signs for an art parade to take place the next evening, May 3, at 6 p.m.
In conjunction with this month's First Friday Art March, parade marchers will set out from the Forsyth Park fountain and continue the celebration of local visual arts south down Bull Street to end up at the Desotorow block.
Desotorow's own stop on the Art March will feature the Tricia Cookson's MFA Fibers thesis exhibition titled "Ubiquity and Balance," a collection of crochet forms exploring tension, weight and spatial relationships.
In the long term, Edminster has big ideas for the non-profit gallery, which is known for its promotion of local art and community building. He hopes to offer free hanging space for competitive exhibition proposals, doing away with the gallery's installation fee, which is already modest. He also envisions the space's physical expansion, made possible through integrated and expanded fundraising efforts, which will add administrative space and a multifaceted classroom.
Edminster was resolute in communicating his plans for the gallery's future and for the organization's contribution to the SoFo (South of Forsyth) community. "I understand the difficulty of these projects, but I believe anything worthwhile takes hard work."
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