Against the Natural Order
Resident artist and Speck intern Abi Ogle’s exhibit titled “Vilomah (against the natural order)” is calling the Gallery Annex home for the month of June. If you haven’t already experienced--yes, it is an experience--Abi’s hauntingly delicate embroideries made with human hair, you must make it a priority.
Ogle believes “that art really can make you more human” which is a tangible concept throughout her exhibit. She pushes the boundaries of what we expect art to be by acting upon its capacity to showcase unspeakable stories and intangible parts of human existence (ie. grief, memory, loss, and beauty).
An extremely deep thinker and intentional artist, Ogle does not go lightly into any creation she undertakes. “Vilomah” invites the audience to become tangled in the tension of artwork that whispers questions and prompts memories about the way that sorrow soaks into our lives—collectively and individually.
This endeavor is executed gracefully and symbolically. Ogle explains that this exhibit can consume both the viewer and the creator’s time (similar to grief). True to its name, “Vilomah” is not an exhibit that can be hurried through; it must be approached closely to reveal a universally relatable meditation on humanity’s two-sided coin of beauty and disgust.
Ogle created this tribute to the fragility of shared lives with used pillowcases, threads of hair from friends and loved ones, and hundreds of hours of embroidery, conversation, and contemplation. As an artist rooted in concept and deeper meaning, it was important to Ogle to use mediums that were bodily, subtle, flexible, unconventional, a part of everyday life, and connected to art history.
When expounding upon the pillowcase embroideries, she revealed her intentionality: “you realize that your face touches pillowcases all of your life, your smell lingers-- your trace is still left behind when you wake up or leave.”
Ogle humbly explained that “there’s nothing new under the sun,” thus her innovative exhibit is akin to very rich art history traditions on lament and artist conversations throughout time; e.g., contemporary Lynne Yamamoto’s “Wrung” was inspirational, as was the vernacular custom in the Victorian era to cut a lock of hair from a loved one when they pass with which to create ornate jewelry and flower wreathes.
As her audience walks away from the Gallery Annex and moves forward in their lives, Ogle “hopes that the tension lingers-- it’s strange to think about something so beautiful and uncomfortable at the same time.”