I liked curator Doug Stapleton’s wall text from The Leaf and The Page, quite a bit:
In Melissa Jay Craig’s sculptures, her compositional elements (books, trees, pages, leaves) are conflated into a visual and metaphorical cross-play of associations. Book spines become trunks, or, as in …a memoir in this exhibition, pages the rotting hollow of a tree with suggestions of regenerative growth.
Strength, rot and decay, and, notably, the next cycle of growth, are imaged in the silent, meditative orms of her sculptural books. In That’s Life, the decaying book/tree sprouts vivid pages of fungi that are reminiscent of a re-reading of a beloved volume, or a reminder of the power of text to rebound with fresh insight.
There is another referent in Craig’s work implied by the titles that calls to mind our own life cycle: our memories, histories and physical changes over time. Craig’s investigations into that larger cultural narrative, our metaphoric reading of our human experience as mirrored in nature’s steady seasonal process, call to mind the first stanza of Dylan Thomas’ poem, ‘The force that through the green fuse drives the flower’:
The force that through the green fuse drives the flower
Drives my green age; that blasts the
roots of trees
Is my destroyer.
And I am dumb to tell the crooked rose
My youth is bent by the same wintry fever.
Sometimes Other’s Words can help, particularly when, like now, I’m so often feeling like this:
Oddly, it’s frequently other Other’s Words that produce the feeling of needing to live behind a wall, or of deliberately disappearing into the surroundings. That occurs when offered words are blatantly false, syrupy words of “support”, thoroughly and consistently belied by actions. Such dysfunctional dances can make us ill. Political lies are poisonous, and in the US, through November, we’ll be inundated with them on a meta-scale. Understand this: politicians really do believe we are stupid enough to swallow it whole. Maintaining an appearance of having heartily eaten, to keep from being arrested, fired, deported or otherwise “disappeared” can be as debilitating as actually swallowing.
I don’t know any way through it, other than to keep covertly moving forward against the tide, overtly speaking through making, and to always, always find reasons to laugh. Humor isn’t a cure, but it can chip away at facades, poke holes in a culture of fear and falseness.
O’ course, I could have it all wrong, and Doug’s lovely words could be reduced to “art by old fart”. That could be humor, or that could be a side effect of swallowing the pill, eh?