Metaphor, featuring the artworks of Susanna Baker, Jamie Greenfield, Linda Pochesci, Merrill Steiger, and Valery Sutherland opened this past weekend at the Pierro Gallery in South Orange. The reception for the artists is scheduled for this Sunday, September 19th, from 1 – 4 PM and will include an informal artist talk starting at 1 PM.
As the curator, I have to point out that the artwork for this show was not chosen around the title Metaphor: rather, I went through the files and pulled out work that interested me, intuitively organizing the artists’ portfolios into stacks that I felt worked as a grouping. (The artists for this exhibit were curated from the artist files of the Pierro Gallery - to which I actively encourage all artists to submit materials; the guidelines are here).
During the process of organizing, I realized that there is a connection between the works of this group of artists: in one manner or another, they all deal directly with metaphor. One could argue that most art deals with metaphor on some level (even for non-representational artists, such as abstract expressionists, the painting in itself becomes the metaphor for the action of painting). However, these artists have a more straightforward use of metaphor in their work. More subtle than analogies, these are visual metaphors that play out in correlations between juxtaposed imagery or contrast space, scale and color, so the artists are creating their own visual symbolism, evoking emotion, or suggesting narrative.
In addition to metaphor, nature is also notably featured within the works of these artists - references to weather, daylight, insects, geological formations, natural textures and patterns, the macrocosm as well as the microcosm: elements that come together, conveying suggestions to the passage of time, hints towards the essence of spirituality, contemplation of environment, and allusions to the enigmatic personal experience of the artists themselves.
As with literary metaphors, there is an elusiveness that brings the viewer into the work to ask what is happening?, what does this mean?, and demanding the viewer to assume more responsibility for interpreting meaning, because these artists have not created clear-cut narratives and explicitly elucidated stories or concepts. These artworks show an array of symbols and private iconography - the meanings for which the viewer is not necessarily privy - but intuitively, and with contemplation, the viewer can generate their own version of meaning through the visual imagery that each artist has presented.