“Some people collect for investment. Some collect for pleasure. Some folks do it to learn about history. And some people "save things" because it helps them to fill a gaping hole, calm fears, erase insecurity. For them, collecting provides order in their lives and a bulwark against the chaos and terror of an uncertain world. It serves as a protectant against the destruction of everything they've ever loved.” --Judith Katz-Schwartz
Clinging is the origin of this entire mass of suffering & stress.”--Buddha
“I can think of no better expression to characterize these similarities than ‘family resemblances’…” --Ludwig Wittgenstein
Sally Curcio’s new body of work, “Family Resemblances,” explores collections of everyday objects through assemblages. “Family Resemblances” refers to Ludwig Wittgenstein’s theory that words cannot be unequivocally defined by clear and specific characteristics, but rather through usage and a “train of associations” that emerges historically. This theory indicated there is no solid meaning, or essences. Wittgenstein left us with an uncomfortable uncertainty. Curcio explores our need, in the face of this uncertainty, to categorize, collect and stabilize meaning.
This body of work, as with her past work, presents three defining features. First, the work is a gestalt: each piece informs the other pieces. Secondly, as in past shows, a wide variety of media is used to express her chosen topic. And finally, Curcio takes a potentially dark theme and reverses it into lightness with the pure visual pleasure of her constructions.
In “Family Resemblance,” Curcio uses an array of materials: gumballs, dominoes, false eyelashes, toy guns, lottery tickets, bottle caps, underwear, arms from dolls, and watercolor paint squares. Curcio shapes these objects into assemblages that evoke our fascination with categorizing and collecting objects, and our bent to be connoisseurs: each work obliges us to compare, contrast, rank, and critique a collection. Curcio’s collections comically summons this impulse into action and we can observe ourselves working over the pieces in terms of this process. Curcio’s set of collections points deeper into our personal need for completion, control and recognition. The individual pieces suggest, in a self-consciously naïve way, a complete set of objects, an exhaustion of possibilities, and an ironic and absurd self-satisfaction in the display of these collections to others. She teaches us that these collections attempt to be an oasis of self-identity, certainty and completion.
Each of Curcio’s pieces deliberately confronts us with an alien obsessive attention to precision and order suggesting an unconscious urgency. This translates positively into visually satisfying pieces that evoke the simplicity and “cleanness” of minimalism, the freshness of op art, and the familiarity of folk art. The shapes are simple and satisfying, the colors are bright, the work beautifully neat and the materials surprisingly familiar, albeit re-contextualized. With these simulated collections the artist has gathered a gallery of evidence that speaks to our perpetual drive to somehow, in some way, take control and make sense of things.
Review written by JM Wilson III, Ph.D.