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Friday, November 11, 2016
Challenge your assumptions
This evening I will stroll over to PopUp 265: A Fresh ArtSpace in Augusta for the opening of Barbra Whitten’s The Usual Suspects. Since I helped her do the two-person part of her installation a few weeks ago, I’m looking forward to the final project.
A graceful old storefront on Water Street, PopUp265’s plate glass windows act like a kind of fish bowl, magnifying the contents. When I last saw the work, it hadn’t spread over the floor yet. How it’s going to work with a crowd is an interesting question.
The figures were painted in an intentionally amorphous way, giving the viewer lots of room to personify them in their own imagination. I immediately identified with one who seemed to be dressed in evening wear. I felt uneasy seeing this figure later with a pentagram on her chest, for a pentagram is anathema to my religious values. Will tonight’s visitors see past the symbols to personalize the figures, or will they be stopped cold by the symbols? Since this question is at the heart of the work, I’m curious to watch the interactions.
Whitten's earlier piece, now at the Maine Holocaust and Human Rights Center.