Oh, You'll Change Your Mind

By her own admission, the work that Abi Ogle is installing in the Harrison Gallery is not what you might expect to see at a typical First Friday event. The diversity of media and the combination of the beautiful with the strange is the result of Abi sharing her fresh and fascinating voice. She is not so concerned with people finding the art they want to hang on their walls as she is in people interacting with the work in the exhibit. Her art is the result of how she processes various issues, and she wants us to be stimulated to ask questions about her story. Abi is a fiber artist as well as an installation artist, and this collection features pieces that are so unique and amazingly crafted that I can’t stop thinking about them even days after she has shown them to me. While her work is reflective of concepts that she is still processing from the world of Art History, Abi is invested in helping her audience appreciate contemporary art. She wants viewers to know that while contemporary art may seem “daunting” to them, that it doesn’t need to be. It isn’t as important to be trained to understand this artwork as it is to be willing to give one’s time and attention and to listen to the stories and explore the emotions that they convey.

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If Art is the result of processing memory, grief, loss, etc., it may resonate with viewers for reasons they do not initially understand. As someone who still cherishes and displays the lace tablecloths and doilies that were created by my great grandmother, I am intensely moved by the gorgeous lace that Abi created with her sewing machine and a ten inch embroidery hoop. Her technique is exquisite so that the surprise sentiments woven into what appears at a glance to be appropriate for a wedding dress become a bit of a shock for the viewer. As we discuss the piece, she makes reference to Vermeer’s,”The Lacemaker”, and the conversation expands providing lace as a metaphor for domesticity and cultural expectations of women.

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The show will feature a video installation, a painting that is six yards long, and a live performance on First Friday, as well as Abi’s amazing fabric creations. Each is part of an effort to draw us into what she calls “a conversation of the familiar made strange”. We may be drawn into a piece so much as to take a much closer look at it, only to discover that it is unexpectedly ghostly or repulsive to us, as is the case of her depiction of a human figure beautifully rendered using embroidery of human hair. In the end, we may come away with a sense of empathy and of sharing common experiences and emotions. Abi is fond of quoting a favorite teacher who told her, ”Art can make you more human.” Her show will open in the Harrison Gallery on Friday, July 5 and hang throughout the month. You will not want to miss this exhibit!