Vanessa Woods: Somewhere Between Here and There
Over and over, the works in Somewhere Between Here and There invoke not only the borderlands of dreams but the shadow world inhabited by those we mourn. Serving both as elegies and remembrances, Woods’ collages navigate the place between memory and history; the known, and the lost, evocations of the liminal place between life and the vast unknown beyond, where the recently-dead linger in our memories– remaining just beyond our reach, as we come to grips with loss; still speaking to them, even if only silently. –Maria Porges
I had the pleasure of meeting photographic artist Vanessa Woods at the Photo Alliance Reviews in San Francisco this Spring and then saw her again recently at the Medium Festival of Photography in San Diego. I was intrigued by her approach to photographic art, creating collages of found ephemera in order to explore a variety of considerations. For her new project, Somewhere Between Here and There, Vanessa uses materials from the archive of her deceased mentor, Ken Graves. Her surreal collages honor his legacy and influence and allows him to become part of her own visual story telling. Somewhere Between Here and There will be exhibited alongside collages by Ken Graves at the Jack Fischer Gallery in 2018.
Woods graduated with an MFA with honors, from the San Francisco Art Institute. Her artwork and films have been exhibited internationally including Stanford Art Spaces at Stanford University, The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, and The Institute of Contemporary Art in San Jose. Woods has been the recipient of numerous awards including a Murphy and Cadogan Fellowship from the SF Arts Commission, a Film Arts Foundation Grant, and the San Francisco Art Institute’s MFA Fellowship. She has also been awarded residencies at Djerassi, the Headlands Center for the Arts, the MacDowell Colony and in Pont-Aven, France, through the Museum of Pont-Aven. Woods is represented by the Jack Fischer Gallery in San Francisco.
Somewhere Between Here and There
Somewhere Between Here and There, is an on-going body of original hand-cut collage work that have created from the archive of 1940s-60s paper ephemera and objects that I recently inherited from my deceased mentor, Ken Graves. Part elegy, part eulogy, all the collages in Somewhere Between Here and There engage in a seductive illusion. Each collage reveals a subject navigating a set comprised of layers that can be pulled up or pulled apart to reveal other realms. The manipulation of the physical material serves as a reminder of the ease with which magic may be built, or dismantled. The varying perspectives of space and scale function like a magician’s sleight of hand, continually reorienting the viewer and further accentuating references to artifice, theater and illusion.
Rituals of mourning are also a trope in the work, specifically the Jewish tradition of leaving a pebble on the gravestone as a memento to the deceased’s life. Throughout the collages, stones populate the landscapes or sets, floating mid-air, being pulled by subjects or resting singularly on surfaces. In Border World, a boy—a stand-in for Graves—passes through a doorway from one world to the next. Along the lintel are 6 stones, my parceled griefs and memories of Ken. The ongoing creation of this work implicates Graves’ continued presence in my life, and using his material in combination with mine feels like a collaboration between worlds, space and time—Somewhere Between Here and There. -Vanessa Woods
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