Kristen Crouch’s senior solo show I Will Live On opened on Friday, May 23rd at Ashmore Gallery, inviting visitors to venture into the materialization of her inner world and honor the memory of Joshua Crouch, the artist’s deceased brother.
Entering the industrial gallery space, viewers first encounter a small table displaying Crouch’s family photos, postcards advertising her works, a notebook for visitors to write thoughts, and three candles. On the wall behind that table the words “I Will Live On” are displayed; “It is something my brother wrote,” the artist said. On the left and right walls, ten prints and photo transfers are exhibited. At the center, six abstract sculptures made of bronze, wood, and other materials featured protuberances of salmon heads that Crouch described as “souls being very fluent.” Among these “fluent” pieces is “Epiphany”, Crouch’s first sculpture and the one that led her to visualize her solo show before it was actually installed. At the back of the gallery, the installation “Orbs” consisted of several polyester resin spheres containing natural elements that the artist’s brother used to enjoy, like sand, tea, and plants.
The exhibition features a strong and complex body of work revealing the artist’s heartbreaking and unfortunate experience of losing a sibling as well as her interpretation and representation of dualities – life and death, soul and body, reality and perception; it is the prints and photo transfers that really stand out, exposing the pain that informed the artist’s ritual-like exhibition.
Crouch’s prints and transfers began with family photos. She later exposed those images to a process of digital manipulation, eventually printing them onto metal and transferring them to wood. This process of manipulation is not incidental. The artist specifically uses distortion to transmit her thoughts and emotions about the family tragedy: “The fact that we don’t actually know what happened to him… The frustration with that… There’s still the pain and questions, and they’re fading memories.”
Four titles were particularly poignant. “I Will Live On” is a blurred image of Joshua Crouch. He is standing, dressed in white and blue, with a kind of dismembered body; the arms seem misplaced and both head and feet are fading. “Multiple Blunt Impact. Injuries of Torso and Head” shows a mostly black and white face. It is disfigured and difficult to tell if the face is smiling or suffering.
“What’s Left” is more abstract and colorful, however, it depicts a face covered in blurred, broken mirror-like pieces. It is impossible to tell who is being represented. “Translucent Thoughts”, a portrait whose central figure’s face is falling apart as if broken or melted, is particularly impactful.
I Will Live On remains on display at Ashmore Gallery until June 1. There will be a closing reception on May 30 from 6 – 9pm.