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Review: Lori Vrba at Catherine Couturier Gallery

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Lori Vrba:  The Moth Wing Diaries



on view through August 31, 2015



The work of Lori Vrba is elegant and enchanted.  The self-taught artist employs a traditional approach to photography; knowing Vrba's work is film based and darkroom processed lends a timeless mystique and layers poetics into her frames.  The Moth Wing Diaries exhibition is accompanied by a monograph with the same name.  The prints and the text are intimate and soft.  The work engage symbols we associate with love, femininity, change, family, and growth.  Repeating symbols include moths, butterflies, eggs, feathers, and nests.  We find that her incorporation of flora and fauna reference not only nature but cycle.  Recurring characters are children, adolescents, and at times the flash of grown figures darting from view.  Her inclusion of things like bird cages or jars indicate a desire to preserve.  On the whole, the works speak to transition and encourage pause.  Her frames indeed stop time and feel like halted memories and cherished instants.  This sentiment transcends the frame, and we experience a desire to cherish all of life's fleeting moments.


Upcoming Artist's Reception: Saturday, July 11

5:00 - 7:00 pm



Learn more about the work or view the exhibition online at Catherine Couturier Gallery.

Review of the exhibition in the Houston Press. 


Image Information:

Lori Vrba, Butterfly

Courtesy of Catherine Couturier Gallery

Tags:  Catherine Couturier Gallery  Lori Vrba 

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Review: Rachel Phillips at Catherine Couturier Gallery

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Rachel Phillips:  From Time to Time


through February 14, 2015 


Any artist who operates in the plural must make interesting work.  Indeed, Rachel Phillips, who also makes work as her alter-egos Madge Cameron and Frances Pane, is interested in layers- of identity, personality, time, and existence.   Her work asks us to reinvent and imagine the past as a landscape of invention and wonder as rich as the future.


The work asks us to consider not only tomorrow, but yesterday, and the day before that, and the years before that, and so on.  Phillips engages pictures from the past and conjure their stories.  Her foundational materials are albumen portraits called Cabinet Cards from the late 1800’s.  In Phillips’ own words she states that “we think of the future as unknown and the past as known- as history in a heavy book.  But mostly the past, and the people who lived before us, are as obscure and unknowable to us as the future is- we need a crystal ball to see back in time, too” (Catherine Courtier Gallery).


We look over Phillips’ Cabinet Cards and find her engagements with them add to the mystery, as if she was indeed conjuring the past.  Transfer prints outline forms that overlay, enhance, or obscure the sitter; these visual interventions spark inventive story-lines.   Watches swirl around the face of a young woman with sharp features and curly up-done hair.  We may wonder about the temporality of life and feel the weight of a moment, compression of a minute, and find time cruel even punishing, but as worthy of cherishment as ever.  In another piece we feel loosely held and painfully fragile looking at the visage of a clean-shaven man in high-buttoned jacket, his likeness hinged by three unfastened safety pins.  Other undefined narratives unfold in pairings of sitters and dance steps, stars maps, umbrellas, hand puppet shadow-bunnies, clouds, botanicals, handprints, and more. The pairings are poetic and elemental; we are certain not only to recognize the added layer, but to relate to a memory of our own because of it. 


Phillips’ interventions are our entry into the past, our connection to stories lost to time.  Each card invites us to imagine identity, personal history, dreams and destinies of these unknown sitters whose stories were forgotten by the families descendent of them, if any remain.  We are invited to reinvent the past, and we find it has as much possibility as the future.


Other works in the show are as fascinating:  Pane’s frames in frames and Cameron’s photo-driven encaustics harmonize nicely with this Cabinet Card series.  Pane’s work allows the frame itself to echo panicle moments in personal history thereby universalizing our lives to some degree.  Cameron’s images are mystical and more individualized.  They speak to moments, yet seem to unlock the secrets of time, bending it just enough to let us all in.


For more information on this exhibition please visit Catherine Couturier Gallery


Image Information:

Rachel Phillips

Sharp Object

Courtesy of Catherine Couturier Gallery

Tags:  aipadRecommended  aipadReview  Catherine Couturier Gallery  Rachel Phillips 

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