A Review of the Ohio Collage Society Exhibit at Summit Artspace
by Josy Jones
Step forward. Tilt your head to the left. Step back. Squint. Tilt your head to the right. Tilt your chin up slightly. Hope that the new angle will improve your understanding. Is that an eyeball? Take a deep breath. That one over there seems a little dangerous, don’t you think? Focus. Pick out a portion of the piece that catches your attention the most. There it is. Do you see it now? Maybe you’re the only one who does. What does it mean? Maybe it’s a metaphor. Maybe it’s everything you think it is. What if it’s none of those things?
“You may have to come back more than once,” said the Summit Artspace press release. No kidding. They forgot to add “you should probably bring someone with you to casually talk philosophy with you too.”
Saying it’s an amazing exhibit does it no justice; although, I hope those simple words make you inclined to visit. Simple words like “great” and “amazing” can’t capture the complexities of the concepts expressed in the Ohio Collage Society show. The 60-work exhibit explores humanity, self-reflection, nature and much more.
One of the first pieces I stopped at was “Escaping Struggle,” a mixed media piece by Tracy Caggiati. I stared briefly at the rocks incorporated into the piece. My eyes followed the trails as they led me to the top, where there were little assembled men who’d thrown rope over the edge to help others out of the trench. I think Caggiati was picking on me. I’m stubborn. Sometimes I struggle to ask for help, Tracy! What’s it to ya? I stared up at the men at the top and felt a wave of gratitude for the support system in my life and moved along the gallery wall.
I stopped again at “Line Editing” by Nancy Sotka and I thought, “Nancy gets it. Line editing is an overwhelming, shredding feeling felt deep in the gut. We should chat about it over wine.” I chuckled and continued along the exhibit.
Shuffle. Stop. Look closer. That’s cool. Step back. What is that? Walk around it with squinted eyes. Shuffle. Stop. “Damn right, Robert Carpenter, we are piling our trash on top of nature and it’s gotta stop!” I looked down at the name of the piece I felt so fiery about and snickered at the title: “Nooks, Crannies and Orby Things.” I may have interpreted his piece wrong, or maybe I was on target. I smiled, embraced the mystery and continued my dance. Shuffle. Stop. Step back. What is this supposed to mean?
If you are anything like me, you believe that all artists are trying to tell you something. There’s a metaphor to explore or a lesson to learn. That doesn’t make it true; it’s just how I feel. There was one piece at the exhibit where I couldn’t figure out what the artist was trying to tell me or if they were trying to tell me anything at all: “Blind Eights” by Sharon Wagner. “Blind Eights” is a clay assemblage of three clay created sets of eyes sitting atop #8 billiard balls. I spent at least 15 minutes chatting with the women in the gallery, asking them their interpretations and providing hypotheses of my own. Still, we came to no solid conclusion, but we were not afraid to be wrong. Take your friends, husband, whoever and talk it over with them. Don’t be afraid to be wrong, and enjoy the dance.
Josy hates to be asked her age, loves falafel and would kill for a good metaphor. She’s a simple soul.