Anna Von Mertens uses the structures of quilting and drawing to examine the frontiers of human understanding. In this exhibition commissioned for the Radcliffe Institute, Von Mertens explores the life and work of Henrietta Leavitt, one of the women “computers” hired a century ago to study glass-plate astronomical photographs at the Harvard College Observatory.
Clarissa Tossin, a Radcliffe fellow in 2017–2018, expands upon her fellowship project with a newly commissioned exhibition that considers the ecology of an uncertain future. Inspired by Octavia E. Butler’s science fiction trilogy Xenogenesis (1989), in which the Amazon becomes the site for a new civilization of alien-human hybrids, Tossin speculates upon a postapocalyptic world following ecological collapse. Pairing DIY plastic recycling techniques with the materials and practices of Amazonian aesthetic traditions, Tossin highlights the contemporary footprint left in the geological sedimentation of the earth. These new works consider indigenous knowledge in relationship to the environment, while they also resemble ruins of a world yet to come. More
Willie Cole’s Beauties are haunting, full-scale prints made from crushed and hammered ironing boards, each named after a woman from the artist’s cultural and ancestral history. Cole has used irons and ironing as central motifs in his work for 30 years, evoking everything from African masks to slave ship diagrams to the routines of domestic servitude. In this special installation, the gallery will be lined wall to wall with the Beauties. Standing silently—like sentinels, tombstones, shrouds, or windows—the prints will open a space for confronting anew the whole range of often contradictory energies running through them: resistance and oppression, beauty and violence, labor and forbearance. More
Willy Mae, Carolina, and Ida Mae, from the series Beauties, intaglio and relief prints on paper, 2012 Images courtesy of Highpoint Editions