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Spotlight: In the space of a breath

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Photo Art by Erica Bailey "Akin"

Roswell Artist-in-Residence Erica Bailey exhibit opens at the Roswell Museum and Art Center

By Christina Stock

Vision Editor

Roswell Artist-in-Residence Erica Bailey’s exhibit opening takes place at the Roswell Museum and Art Center, 1011 N. Richardson Ave., Sept. 20 at 5:30 p.m. The lecture is followed by a reception.

Bailey explores perceptions of time and space through installations that combine dioramas and video. Her new installation for RMAC includes four dioramas set in the prehistoric past, the recent past, the present and the distant future, affording a quasi time travel.

Bailey is a New York City Bronx-based visual artist, originally from a small-town, working-class family in Ohio. She moved to New York in 2012 after accepting a position with the City College of New York managing the sculpture facilities. She got her Bachelor of Fine Arts in sculpture in 2003 at the Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, and her Master of Fine Arts in three-dimensional media in 2007 at the University of Cincinnati in Ohio.

In 2016, she received the City University of New York Research Foundation Award.

“In the space of a breath” exhibit includes a new installation and several stand-alone video pieces of Bailey that she created here at the RAiR compound. The installation, “Outstare the Stars,” pairs a diorama of a prehistoric cave dwelling with that of a future dwelling on Mars, evoking the scale of all human existence and the vaster cosmic scale in which it unfolds. The “found-architecture” of the cave is open, exposed to the elements of Earth, while the Martian dwelling is encapsulated, sealed off from the Martian atmosphere. Together they suggest two distinct modes of being in the world and present related dichotomies of order and chaos, vulnerability and safety. While both exhibit a feeling of isolation and smallness within the context of limitless time and space, they also evince the boldness of humankind in asserting itself, seeking to not only survive but to thrive.

“In my work as a visual artist, I explore perceptions of time and space through installations that combine dioramas and video,” Bailey said. “I frequently turn to vernacular architecture for subject matter, seeing it as a primary means by which we delimit space and order our understanding of it. My work exhibits a fascination with binary oppositions — particularly spatial ones such as inside/outside, close/remote — and often references events that unfold over unfathomable expanses of time and distance or realities beyond our natural means of perception.

“The video pieces act as visual poetry. The stillness of the camera emphasizes the intrinsic motion of the subject matter: the movement of a belly rising and falling with a breath — “Akin,” the rolling of clouds and the frantic motion of ants as in “Threshold.” These particulars of imagery suggest all manner of processes that unfold through multiplicitous scales of time and space: processes elemental, primordial, biological, meteorological, geological, cosmic, quantum. They allude to the sublime and daunting culmination of all energy and matter. There is also a preoccupation with non-human experience in the videos, a recognition of sameness and difference, areas of overlap and instances of stark and utter disparity,” Bailey said.

The installation and the videos complement one another, with the hypnotic motion of the videos highlighting the relative stillness of the dioramas. Together, they create a moment of pause, a space of contemplation.

Recent exhibitions of Bailey include: Bronx Calling: The Third AIM Biennial, Bronx Museum of the Arts, Smack Mellon in Brooklyn, and So Close, Cuchifritos Gallery + Project Space, Lower East Side, Manhattan. Previous residencies include: NARS Foundation Artist in Residency Program, BronxArtSpace Summer Residency, and the LES Studio Program, a program of Artists Alliance, Inc.

For more information, visit roswell-nm.gov/346/Exhibitions or call 575-624-6744.