Sunday, July 7, 2019


Some exhibitions are flawless, from the selection of artists and works to the title, wall texts and setting. This summer, Facades at the Carroll Gallery is one of these. Curated by Amy Crum and Marjorie Rawle, the show features the works from four female artists sharing a common interest through their practice, to reveal the "fallacies within narratives of the past". The exhibition includes a site specific installation, sculptures, photographs and a video.

The main gallery is filled with Carlie Trosclair's site specific installation Chrysalis: Reflections on the Interstitial, 2019. Born in New Orleans, the artist is based in St Louis since obtaining her MFA from Washington University. The latex mold of a porch located in the Tremé features all the details of the wood and iron work embellishing New Orleans homes. A place where families, neighbors, old and young gather to converse, gossip, argue, read, tell stories, share space and life, the porch represents the physical imprint of the community. In the gallery, its delicate translucent shed skin evokes memories, metamorphosis, a past and an uncertain future, overshadowed by gentrification, fences, parking lots and lives centered around television and computer screens. The visitor may leave with a shade of melancholy after a walk through the silent ghostly structure.

In contrast to Trosclair's architectural display, the half-dozen works from Ana Hernandez fit on one wall in the back gallery. The title of the series Deconstructing Facades and the Fallacies within Narratives of the Past, Present and Future inspired the show. Discarded books and artifacts from Southern houses become media to create sober compositions. Each of the assemblages includes a book cover which provides the title of Hernandez's piece. Slavery Time, 2016, is the first of the series and features a delicate metal decoration crowning the composition, and at the bottom, a small iron grid. It is next to Symbols and Society, 2017, surmounted by an inverted V like a roof and Borderline Studies, 2017, which includes a torn piece of chicken wire fence.  Among the subdued colors of cardboard and book covers, the cerulean blue of A History of the Old South, 2018, attracts the eye. The viewer can look for the symbolic meaning of the objects assembled in a piece, however, it seems that  the key to the works is the creative process itself. It involves two stages: a phase of deconstruction, tearing books apart, a violent but cathartic act, followed by reconstruction, a rebirth of the book in a new form, offering a visual experience. Each piece includes an area of scrupulously aligned nail coffins, usually painted in red. The reference to voodoo practices adds a magical connotation to the seemingly quiet compositions oozing anger and pain.

Sharing the gallery space, a display of seven black and white photographs from Allison Beondé who recently obtained a Master of Fine Arts from Tulane University, fill the remaining walls. At the hands of persons unknown features unkempt parks, decaying buildings and a restored historic house flying a shredded American flag. Beondé captures with her lens uninhabited places but rich in history, like Arthur Shore's house, and documents neglect, precursor of oblivion.

Bleed, 2018, the interactive video from Jenna DeBoisblanc is about the Mississippi River, its tributaries... and more. The setting allows the visitor to wander back and forth to activate the work and look at the red meanderings become pink and eventually disappear when coming closer to the screen. The wall text refers to "the role of the river as the region's lifeblood", and "to the legacy of the environmental and social bloodshed that has occurred along the Mississippi". Eventually surrounded by a bright white screen, one can venture to call Bleed an allegory of life and death.

Facades is a challenging exhibition to make us reflect on past, present and future.  

photographs by the author:

Carlie Trosclair "Chrysalis: Reflections on the Interstitial", 2019

Ana Hernandez "Borderline Studies", 2017

Allison Beondé "Braced School Building, New Orleans, LA", 2018

Jenna DeBoisblanc "Bleed", 2018