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May 27, 2010 to August 12, 2010

Vanitas: Contemporary Reflections

“Vanitas” is a Latin word used since the Renaissance to describe the transitory nature of life. The term characterizes the appreciation of life’s pleasures and accomplishments joined with the awareness of their inevitable loss. Artists Candy Depew, Myra Mimlitsch Gray, Katherine Kaminski, Audrey Hasen Russell and Gae Savannah explored this theme for a contemporary audience, drawing on its 17th Century origins in Dutch Still Life Painting.

More superficially but inescapably, this recorded the affluent circumstances of the artist or patron who commissioned them: fine linens, crystal and fresh, abundant food, the stuff of life. Countering this show of vanity, many historic still lifes were vanitas paintings, reminders of the brevity of life, which emphasized fleeting material pleasure as a contrast to infinite, ineffable spiritual joy. Ultimately these representations of decadence, over-embellishment, decay and waste are reminders of mortality. Presenting objects that symbolize earthly pleasures and the ephemeral nature of both art and life, works in ceramics, metals, glass, fiber and mixed media reflected each artists’ perspective and consideration of this genre.

Tags: ceramics, glass, installation, metals, mixed media