Walking through the Goffe Street Armory during City Wide Open Studios — which continues this weekend and beyond — was like walking through a lucid dream. On Sunday, Tim Kane’s trumpet wailed in the echo chamber of the central drill room, where architects Amy and Dennis Daniels’ installation exploded an interior space. Walls angled half-finished. Windows hung from the ceiling. And at the heart of this living blueprint, half David Lynch crime scene, half Bed Bath and Beyond: a floating toilet.
Though underneath the dream lay a sense of purpose.
“No, this is not for sale,” said Syrian-born artist and architect Mohamad Hafez, who nestled an urban space into a typewriter case in his piece, “A Refugee Nation,” a favorite of many who went to the Armory this weekend. The multilayered recording of prayer call, ambient city sounds, and a recording of Hafez’s last visit to Syria before the war emanated from his suitcase city.
Emily M. Herberich’s work latest series, Blood Lines, draws inspiration from the Black Lives Matter movement, renaissance painters such as Fra Angelico, and the scribbled notes of her husband, a Yale Divinity School student.
“I’ll say I’m spiritual,” Herberich said.
Her work depicts cultural victims through an iconography simultaneously ironic and reverent. The hues in her minimalistic color spectrum evoke sacramental wine, purple drink, and gore all at once. References to advertisements, such as a 1988 Kool Aid poster, link popular culture to the violent, oppressive history of Renaissance Catholicism.
In “Dancers,” featured above, it’s unclear whether the figures are dancing or fighting.
“I guess I like things that have layers,” Herberich said of her work. “You don’t have to know a lot to get an emotional reaction.”
Though “The Mocking” directly references Fra Angelico’s “The Mocking Of Christ,” a work considered by some as incipient surrealism.
One of this reporter’s favorite Herberich paintings was “Never Non.” Throughout the day, nobody could say just what the painting was of. Some said trees, others suggested ghosts.
Only a young girl read the words aloud for what they were: a Nina Simone quote Herberich came across. The full quote, by the way, is “I was never nonviolent.” Herberich’s work takes on social injustice at a time when revisiting the legacies of the Civil Rights Movement could not be more relevant.
City Wide Open Studios continues for the next two weekends and into November. Click here for the full calendar of events.