Looking Through Cycles: A group exhibition in Westport featuring artists Caitlin McCormack and Molly Gambardella

Looking at the works of Molly Gambardella and Caitlin McCormack, one of the initial references one encounters is the notion of the cycle of life and death, and those of imagination to creation, regeneration and rebirth. Along with them, there is the perpetual threat of reincarnation because the essence of what is, or what is no longer, maintains control and has to give over to a greater force: nature. The exhibition, Looking through Cycles, explores the differing layers found in each of the artists’ work as they pick through expectation and science to unearth certain unavoidable truths embedded in the society we have inherited and built upon. Integral to the exhibition is the rhythm between birth and death, like bloom and decay, and finding inherent beauty in all aspects of the cycle of life, just as there is in the creation of art.
The interconnection of systems and their innate beauty has often been the focus of Molly Gambardella’s work. The Lichen Series is one fine example of this, wherein the artist takes the focus down to the lowest ‘denominator’ and guides the viewer to seek and uncover the base of an ecological system and find its beauty. Beauty, though, is not the central subject of her works, rather the need for systems and beings to cooperate in a manner that allows them to thrive, redirecting the conversation from the terra to what walks on and through our environment. Focusing also on the balance of cycles, Gambardella explores this through the installation Program Interrupted. Using tulips, water and time she highlights the fragile, yet dependent and necessary relationship between these elements that also stand for the relationships between the natural world and the ‘civilized’ world.
Utilizing form as a vessel both literally and emotively, Caitlin McCormack intricately weaves threads to evoke recognizable essences of what is known, all the while leaving gaps for what is not seen, but experienced. In Coronary, specifically, the viewer is assaulted with a straightjacket that’s been tattered in places, its left arm torn from its ‘right’ side and affixed to the front of the jacket. The symbolism of the piece cries both the creative beauty of the piece in its technical self, but also mourns what has been lost to what an external force has decided. The burden of mental illness has been one that patriarchal societies impose on those who do not conform, from Victorian England on the loud and unruly, creative woman, to the over-sexed Blanche Dubois, and more. McCormack adds to this loss by encasing the work in its frame so very similar to solitary confinement, yet absent of its wearer, leaving the viewer to wonder both what happened to them and to feel for the empty garment of restriction in its solitude.
Curation by Melanie Prapopoulos