The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
At Napoleon throughout February, two artists explore the earthly as well as the otherworldly through a variety of media for the show “One More Day." Napoleon member Tamsen Wojtanowski and artist Christina Roth share the space in an exhibit that is at once grounded and lofty; mystical but not gratuitous.
Wojtanowski directs her attention to that which is (mostly) of this earth. The largest work in the show is a series of nine square, black-and-white photographs from a series entitled “Soma.” These images of tortoise shell interiors, curled-up lengths of twine and gritty, soil-like textures provide a sort of anchor to the physical. Like a getaway to a musty cabin off the beaten path, these icons provide a counterpoint to the rather bright colors present in the rest of the show. They also tug at some shadowy nostalgia and seem more like memories than actual objects themselves.
Elsewhere Wojtanowski pieces together collages that at first glance seem totally abstract – a divergence from her more earthly photographs. At closer inspection, tiny human legs stick out from dark geometric shapes or metallic tinfoil circles, bestowing them with the illusion of depth. If these painted, patterned backgrounds appear vast or bewildering, then their central structures are home sweet home. Indeed, the pieces in this series take their names from various forms of temporary shelter including “Tree House,” “Desert Tent,” and “Igloo.” All of the places are occupied and seem cozy and protective against the whirling expanses of confusion outside. Whether symbolic of a family home, temporary refuge, the comfort of human companionship or even our insular little planet, they do well to put a restless mind to ease.
A number of prints by Roth surround Wojtanowski’s work with thin lines and radial forms. The prints seem vaguely structural like aerial pictures or perhaps merely because of their proximity to the tents and igloos, but they are also reminiscent of written symbols. Their exacting, linear compositions draw to mind runes or talismans of days long past. Through a connection to the ancient and the alchemic, they call on that which is beyond the temporal and worldly. Hopes, dreams and even creativity itself, while emerging from the individual, latch onto concepts that bridge the gaps between people and times. Ideas that expand thought, alter culture, or provide existential solace are quite nearly essentials themselves. To learn and accept one’s place in the universe is to truly find a way home.
Surely every one of us has our trials, and with a title like “One More Day,” this exhibit could also serve as a sort of mantra for hope. Wojtanowski and Roth will have their artworks on display through February 22nd.
Napoleon is located at 319 N. 11th Street 2L on the second floor, Philadelphia; firstname.lastname@example.org; napoleonnapoleon.com.