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Archive for April 3rd, 2011

Frog Hollow Gallery, 85 Church St, Burlington, VT

April 1- 30

Frog Hollow, in partnership with the Burlington Women’s Rape Crisis Center, presents “Transcendence” an exhibit featuring Frog Hollow artisans Carol MacDonald and Erik Rehman taking their experience interviewing survivors of sexual violence as a stimulus to create unique, inspirational work which embodies the healing journey and depicts a sense of hope.

The artwork, which focuses on the survivor recovery process, will be publicly created and installed throughout the month of April in the front window of Frog Hollow in an effort to raise awareness regarding sexual violence and survivor recovery in the Burlington Community.

Once completed the work will tour the state of Vermont in an effort to raise awareness statewide regarding resources for survivors of sexual violence before final installation of the work takes place in April 2012 in the Laura Winterbottom room at the Burlington WRCC headquarters.

Blog by Carol MacDonald:

In this blog I want to chronicle the development of the exhibition and write about some of the ideas and thinking that went into the work.

Erik and I were asked to make art out of survivor’s stories. They were to be written and we would respond visually. However, it turned out that the survivors wanted to speak to us directly so we spent two months interviewing, witnessing the stories of nine survivors, both men and women. We very consciously held the space of healing in this process. Being able to meet with each person made each story even more powerful. Images and healing patterns emerged. Every person we talked to started off whole, then their lives came apart and had to be put back together again. It struck me that healing sexual violence is a forced march throu the depths of one’s psyche.

Having done my own work in this realm in the early 90’s, I knew that following my intuition was the only way that this project could work. That means allowing a lot of time and space for ideas to emerge. They often show up for me around 3 AM or in the shower or in the process of a mile long swim at the Y.

Megan James wrote an article about the project which is at http://www.7dvt.com/2011frog-hollow-exhibition-progress -conveys-horror-and-healing-sexual-abuse

4/1/11 : Initial Installation of Exhibition


Tonight we planted the seeds of the ideas we have been working with. So far it is very spare, almost ethereal.  The door  piece is inside the tree marked in brown yarn on the wall.  The lights cast amazing shadows into the center of the void space where the figure has been cut out. There is an old skeleton key hung in the vacant figure’s heart space.

To the left is Erik’s drawing of a woman sitting on a stump fishing into her shadow and a pedestal with puzzle pieces on it. To the right are the white dragonflies printed on tracing paper and underneath on a pedestal is the nest with clay figure curled up within. Above the whole thing runs the graphite rubbing on tracing paper of the collagraph plates I made for the healing timeline piece.

The Door:


The door idea showed up as a way to visually embody the reference to generational abuse. Many survivors spoke of their mother, grandmother’s aunts, uncles, the familial chain of abuse and victimization.  I thought of the door as a structural portal, found in one’s homes. I wanted an old solid core, wood paneled door and we found one in the basement of the WRCC.  I brought it to my studio and started to scar it, beat on it, kick in the bottom, etc…. I also started to buildup many layers of paint. I did at least 3 or 4 coats of each of seven colors. One survivor referenced the Sumarian goddess Innana who was a queen who ventured into the under world. Dressed in her queenly attire she passed through seven portals. At each one she had to shed a layer of clothing and arrived naked into the underworld. I took the seven layers of color from this myth. The door started out white and returned to white.

I wanted to visually communicate the disembodiment that happens in this process, the out of body experience and the virtual loss of self. So I developed a figure and traced it on the door and cut the figure out with a jigsaw or coping saw. Getting through the thick parts of the door was extremely challenging but it worked! Then I started sanding and filing and scraping up the surface to uncover the layers.

4/2/2011: Work day 2 in the gallery

Erik and I returned today to work on the installation.  Usually when I put up a show it all goes up at one time. So to figure out how to develop this over the course of a month is an interesting problem unto itself. We drew up a time line for the month thinking about the healing process itself and in what order the elements should be brought in. We will be working there for a couple of hours each Thursday and Saturday until April 23rd.

Today we added a couple of pieces.  It is so spare and ethereal and we want to keep that until next Thursday. We put an under layer of dragonflies that are printed gray on tracing paper underneath the white dragonflies. It is a subtle shift.  Although I had imagined the dragonflies to eventually be on multiple layers of suspended silk with space in between them, it looks as though we may stay with the tracing paper on the wall, layering up many layers. At least in this space that is what seems to work.  I also want to run some test prints on vellum.

As part of our survivor interviews, we asked each person to chose a piece of 3″ x 3″ paper and do something to it, then return it to us so that it could become a part of the exhibition. The pieces are on a variety of different papers including vellum, rice paper, brown paper, etc. Today we hung  the first of these – a paper crane folded in vellum, so quite translucent.  It is suspended over the door and it’s shadows dance on the wall.

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