Before the COVID-19 lockdown, local gallery Ejecta Projects had been working collaboratively with a Brooklyn, New York group to host dual exhibitions. That plan has finally manifested, yet with an unexpected turn of events, which has resulted in Ejecta Projects hosting the group’s final exhibition titled “what we create may save us,” right here in Carlisle.
Curated by Cynthia Reynolds, the exhibition features work by 18 artists affiliated with Wayfarers, an artist-run studio program and gallery space based in Brooklyn since 2011.
Over the past 10 years, Wayfarers has partnered with many other artists’ collectives and galleries to exchange exhibitions and programming. The collaboration between Wayfarers and Ejecta Projects was initially intended to result in two different exhibitions – in Carlisle and Brooklyn – as a way to engage with new artists and audiences.
Sadly, Wayfarers gallery will close its doors permanently in December, and the Ejecta Projects exhibition initially scheduled for viewing in New York is now taking form as an art book, an homage to the impulses, passions and impermanence of small, independent galleries. Despite this time of social distancing and COVID-related cancellations, Ejecta Projects was still able to install “what we create may save us,” Wayfarers’ final, physical members’ exhibition in their downtown gallery.
The title of the exhibition, a phrase borrowed from a poem titled “Cranes in August” by Kim Addonizio, alludes to the impulse to make and share art, as an act of hope, connection and survival amid loss and profound change, a sentiment particularly fitting given the current climate.
“Our individual expressions come together in a collective display of what matters to us,” Reynolds explained. “When so many of our connections to people and places have been interrupted or broken, we send our creations into the world as proxies through which we can still convey meaning and participate in conversation.”
Serving as the show’s hallmark image, George Ferrandi’s “Future North Stars #1 (Forward To The Future)” is a digital print of a pencil drawing that uses the line “I was really looking forward to the future ... but the present just doesn’t seem to stop” as a cartoon-like bear floats among the stars, while staring at his phone. The night blue sky provides the backdrop for a sentiment easily understood by our information-overloaded society.
Providing a proverbial lifeboat is David McQueen’s “untitled rescue,” a composition of a boat carrying lifejackets is suspended as if being lowered to come to aid. The familiar bright orange foam jackets are stacked into the wooden boat as if on a mission, in a simple yet powerful sculpture, evoking the scales of justice.
The paintings of Maureen O’Leary capture domestic scenes as she describes nature, ordinariness and the way people create their surroundings. “Suburban house” and “The mower” both use broad brush strokes to create the familiar sights of a home nestled amongst the trees and an almost accidental-looking picture of a lawnmower, with only its operator’s shorts-clad legs visible. The paintings give monumentality and depth, elevating the banal, unremarkable imagery.
Tom Keating is a visual artist and illustrator inspired by nautical history, folk art and vintage horror writers. He takes these interests and blends them with personal experiences. In “Tall can of hope,” an acrylic painting on wood, a deep-sea diver’s helmet emanates a glowing yellow light into the darkness, as he clutches a mysterious paper to his chest. The diver resembles a literal beacon of hope as he stares out against the darkness. This image seems simultaneously both antique and futuristic. The painting gains additional texture through the use of the wood surface upon which it is created.
Jonathan Sims’ artistic practice is characterized by brightly colored geometric abstractions and simple, minimalist symbology that evokes language and universal, ancient design. Both “Enseigne No. 1” and “Enseigne No. 2” are bold graphic designs using dual symbols imparting a cryptic message.
Kimberly Reinhardt’s “Bunker Bandanna: Residential 1 and 2” are constructed with water-based and procion dye screenprint on cotton and are hand-stitched. These bandannas are inspired by photographs taken by the cultural philosopher Paul Virilio for his 1967 book, “Bunker Archeology,” which looks at abandoned World War II bunkers along the coast of France and the psychic space of war. These works have an eerie domestic vision of warfare.
Elise Wunderlich is a multimedia artist working primarily in sculpture, video and performance. In her photographs “Quarantine Self-Portrait: Astronaut” and “Quarantine Self-Portrait: Lone Ranger,” she speculates that in quarantine we learn the ghosts in our haunted apartments are just versions of ourselves. Both images show two of these “versions” in full costume as they inhabit the every day, existing somewhere between the past and the alien landscape of the present.
Reynolds summarized the Wayfarers exhibition by stating, “As we prepare to bid it farewell with this final Member Exhibition before it closes its doors in December, we acknowledge the bittersweet reality that even things that can breathe must eventually die, but only after they have first lived.”
In bringing exhibits such as “what we create may save us” and by building cultural partnerships with groups such as the Wayfarers, Ejecta Projects continues to add to the vibrancy of this area’s artistic community and demonstrates that both galleries and artists locally are on equal footing with more celebrated cultural enclaves. The ability to create and share diverse artistic offerings simply reinforces the enduring influence of the arts both locally and worldwide.
The “what we create may save us: the final Wayfarers’ Member Exhibition” curated by Cynthia Reynolds is on display at Ejecta Projects, located at 136 W. High St., Carlisle, through Oct. 30. Gallery hours are from 3 to 6 p.m. Thursday to Saturday. Masks are required to be worn when visiting the gallery. Contact Ejecta Projects by phone at 443-904-3648 or visit their social media accounts on Instagram and Facebook @ejectaprojects.
Joseph George holds a degree in history and art history from Dickinson College. He and his wife, Barrie Ann have spent over 30 years together traveling and visiting art galleries locally and throughout the world. They have been writing about the local art scene for seven years. Their tastes range from fine art to street art.