Fragile Fold Hollow Hold
Join us for the exhibition reception for Fragile Fold Hollow Hold, which showcases the work of two alumni from PAFA’s MFA program, Rita Bernstein (Post-Bacc ‘17 and MFA ‘19) ‘and Oliver Solmitz (MFA ‘16). There will be a gallery talk at 6pm with the artists and curator, Mari Elaine Lamp (MFA '17).
Both Bernstein and Solmitz came to the program after successful careers in other fields. Bernstein was a civil rights and women’s rights lawyer in Philadelphia for over a decade and is also an accomplished photographer. Solmitz served as a paramedic and went on to study architecture and build two homes - one earth-sheltered and off the grid- in his home state of Maine.
Bernstein and Solmitzs’ work engages a conversation of materials, scale, and utility. Paper, cardboard, found objects and the ephemera of everyday material life exists on both ends of scale simultaneously. The smallest pencil mark, a piece of string, the ragged edge on a bit of packing material- all these accumulate seemingly on their own accord, inviting us to notice and savor the fragile ecosystems in which we exist. A collection of days, boxes piled high into a monument, stains formed and spaces created and flattened- these gestures serve as both simple utilitarian motion and a temporal vulnerability.
“I work exclusively on paper which, like skin, is fragile and permeable, “ says Bernstein. “It yields readily to the touch, calling to mind the imperfections that accumulate with time and experience on the body and the psyche.”
Bernstein’s diary pages appear as completely unique visual poems, each one reflecting the seemingly random events and experiences of one day to the next. But hung together they appear as a flock, forming their own internal logic and connections. Annie Dillard wrote, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives,” and it is that truth- showcasing our human weakness and strength- that makes the smallest gesture feel monumental.
A reflection of imperfection is present in Solmitz’s work as well. He takes something that has been our collective symbol of consumption during the pandemic- cardboard boxes, packing and construction material- and gives them a continued life as a complete thought in their own right, often deconstructing their utility in the process. Solmnitz writes, “My work embraces the tension found between modern materials that reflect a machine-based aesthetic and the construction of works with the human hand.”