Michelle Gonzales-Green: a sense of place

The Clarion Content is delighted to welcome aboard what we hope will be a regular guest contributor, Catherine Howard. Ms. Howard is a whirlwind of activity and very much in the middle of the Durham artistic milieu. She is a visual artist, an art history instructor, and a curator. She worked with the Durham Storefront Project. She will be traveling to Cape Town, South Africa in 2012 for a collaborative public art residency. She graduated with a degree in Art History from Barnard College. To see her artwork, check out www.catherinejhoward.com, and to see more of her writing, check out catherinejhoward.wordpress.com.

Today she tells us about the newest installation at the Carrack Gallery.

a sense of place by Michelle Gonzales-Green

at The Carrack Modern Art

from Catherine J. Howard

Canvas on the floor, gold piano keys, wire sheets hanging from the ceiling… When I walked in, “a sense of place” was still very much in-progress. Upon entering the space, Michelle Gonzales-Green’s effusive energy sweeps you into a menagerie of interactive installations dedicated to personal space, faith, and identity. She has taken the entire week to paint/sculpt/create within The Carrack’s space, giving her the flexibility to reflect the surrounding environment and subsequent experiences in her work. Chronicling her creativity only since January 1, 2012, this seemingly piecemeal array explores the wide variety of facets prompted by Gonzales-Green’s meditations on “home” and “self”.

First, we run into “Wonder Clock”, a combination of the album sleeve for Stevie Wonder’s “Songs in the Key of Life” and black and gold piano keys refashioned as clock hands. Gonzales-Green gushed that “Pastime Paradise” was the genesis of her self-awareness, and as such, the rest of the show in essence stems from that album. [While writing this piece, I listened to “Pastime Paradise” on loop. It was only fitting.]

Next, a resurrection of Grandma’s wooden wall paneling and flowered couch welcome you to sit down for a spell. The framed photographs reverse our expectations, focusing on pride in Grandma rather than in the grandkids. Memories, both comfortable and of loss, nostalgia and pain, surface in waves. A trio of sculptures explore female empowerment, gender ambiguity, and the afterlife. A seductively sensuous “Tree of Knowledge” refashions femininity as the origin of paradisaical knowledge, rather than it’s downfall.

Now, to be fair, I have to leave a few surprises, but I can at least say don’t be afraid to get down and dirty in your experience of heaven and hell. Oh, and, be prepared for a journey back in time.

The visual language between individual installations may not be consistent, but the entire exhibit’s energy is intoxicatingly genuine. Not even a hint of irony or sarcasm in sight. Gonzales-Green eloquently summarized the motivation behind “a sense of place”: “We only know what we choose to be. To have a sense of place, we all choose, but why do we choose what we choose? How do we know what we’ve never experienced or never been?” This inspiring sphere of reminiscence and nurturing gives us a chance to step outside our personal history and experience a viscerally powerful alternative perception of “home”. Allow her to enfold you and whisk you away on this fantastical journey.

Meet the artist and enjoy homemade Puerto Rican food at the opening reception THIS FRIDAY, January 20th from 6-9 pm at The Carrack Modern Art, 111 West Parrish St, Durham, NC 27701. For more information about The Carrack Modern Art, visit http://thecarrack.org.

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