Sigrid Orlet’s solo exhibition, still/point, features paintings and a site-specific installation that pulls at your soul with an invisible magnetism. Presented at 643 Project Space until September 25th, still/point is a meditative space in which treasures wait to be discovered. Come and wander – float – about the space. View the work from different perspectives and take notice of the effect it has on you. The wings reach out, hover, and recede. They wait and tilt slowly, hanging on invisible strings. It is as if you are witnessing a timeline – possibly your own.
September 4 – September 25, 2015
The effect of the artwork is instantly apparent as you step into the white room: time slows and music lilts; the air sits gloriously still. Dead bare-root trees rest atop a raw concrete floor, and suspended wings tilt and shift on translucent, nearly imperceptible threads. The effect is a space which holds the exposed: a sacred, ancient place holding unearthed treasures our primal souls can understand.
Orlet’s work invites contemplation, inspires emotion, and allows us to make time for our deeper selves to surface. When distractions are replaced with a purposeful stillness, and meditation quiets the mind, a quiet presence can take hold. This experience seems to reflect Orlet’s practice of art-making: “In our increasingly high-speed virtual world, I go beneath the smooth and shiny surfaces to immerse myself in great solitude and deep silence. I use my brushes and other tools to quietly and patiently express the rawness, textures, and layers of a seemingly unending process of unfolding—of what I do not know.”
Symbolism abounds within still/point, the most recognizable being seven pairs of wings, displayed at varying heights. Like time itself, they invite careful, close up observation, igniting an inner dialogue within the viewer. The wings catch slanted sunlight in their aged, textured veins, deep creases, and crinkled imperfections. Weathered and ancient, they are laden with the frayed and fragmented threads of what is possibly life itself.
“Concerned with unearthing the roots of being human as an aspect of the coherent whole of existence,” Orlet’s heavily textured installation and paintings hang like prehistoric artifacts in the gallery’s clean, sterile light. Pulled from some other realm, some other dimension our conscious minds usually ignored, these nude roots and wings – elemental things – which were once buried deep, are now unearthed in still/point. Exposed and out of the context of their safe seclusion, the trees and wings are unguarded. Their raw nature smells of loamy toadstools, tree bark, and maybe earth itself.
Wings, tails, or hearts – or any other thing you perceive in these forms possibly signify the parts of you that are relevant in this moment. The meaning will construct itself upon the neutral, layered forms. The slight shimmer in the paint atop the wings sending back light slanting in from the windows. The scars of thread, and the twine wrinkles, the gnarled balls of roots – these are the aged, snagging shadows and collecting the imaginary dust of times now past.
Roots and wings are powerful symbols. Symbols which gain momentum when paired together. The roots in still/point invite self examination and reflection: what is it that I’m hiding? What defines me at my core? What would my roots look like if I was pulled up? The bare root trees are void of soil remnants, and are installed to look unsupported as they lean at unsteady, odd angles in the wake of their upheaval. Removed from their systems they falter in this abrupt vulnerability. Yet you can feel their rawness. A rawness that was once buried deep in a place that exists both behind the rib cage, and in the chasms of the crystal earth. The trees lean against the buffer of the wings; a silent narrative conveying the importance of wholeness.
The forms of still/point are at once both heavy and light: heavy with stories and covered in love, with wrinkles and scars of experience, yet light as their body shells are shed, and replaced with an airy essence. This artwork was born from the earth, from the subterranean strata of time-crushed fossils, deep in the sea where salt and water press their hands toward the sandy basement. It comes from the upper depths of space and heaven, where luminous stars die and are reborn in the ongoing rhythms of eternity.
For the opening reception Orlet invited five poets and a cellist to join her in creating a dynamic “living gallery” experience based on the theme of still/point. The performances began with an introduction by Sandra Hunter who asked the audience to consider for a moment their own definition of still/point.
Then, one by one, the poets Crystal Salas, Kelly Grace Thomas, Yasamin Safarzadeh, Cait Emma Smith, and Joelle Hannah performed, with Orlet’s work as their foundation, and the gallery as their stage. Their words ebbed and flowed, guiding the emotional tone of the room the way a conductor’s wand leads an orchestra. The poets enriched the atmosphere of the exhibit with the sincerity of their words and the humanity of their stories. Fifteen year old cellist Aliya Hunter brought the evening to a close by performing an exquisite rendition of the first movement from Beethoven’s Sonata No. 3.
(from left): Sandra Hunter, Sigrid Orlet, Crystal Salas, Aliya Hunter, Yasamin Safarzadeh, Joelle
Hannah, Kelly Grace Thomas, Cait Emma Smith.
*beautiful.bizarre online author Jennifer Susan Jones
*Photographs by Kaia Acosta and Jennifer Susan Jones