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Molly Springfield at the Arts Club of Washington, March 7-31, 2003
Receipts, swizzle sticks, ticket stubs, fortune cookies, abandoned library cards -- collections of such objects, floating in rows and grids of blank space and depicted with sensitive, detailed illusionism, populate the paintings of Molly Springfield, an artist whose work explores the connections between memory, identity and the activities of collecting and cataloguing.
On March 7 ,2003, the Arts Club of Washington will open the first major solo exhibition of Springfield's work, curated by Dr. Eric Denker, Curator of Prints and Drawings at the Corcoran Gallery of Art and Senior Lecturer at the National Gallery of Art. The show will run until March 31, 2003, alongside an exhibition of work by the established Washington realist painter Manon Cleary. A reception for both artists will be held on Friday, March 7 from 6:30-8:30pm in the Arts Club's galleries.
Springfield's work reveals her fascination with what she describes as the "sort of objects we keep in our pockets, junk drawers and shoeboxes." These small, personal objects, she explains, carry with them a sense of memory made tangible, evoking a strange sense of nostalgia for moments we may never even have experienced ourselves. In one painting, a simple row of matchsticks suggests the counting out of time; in another, a grid of used Sweet n' Low packages evokes days, like the life of Prufrock, measured out in cups of morning coffee.
The effect of these paintings, however, is far from sentimental. An unabashed realist, Springfield describes the act of painting as a process of "seeing and recording." She seeks to balance what she calls the "seemingly clinical, almost scribe-like, detachment" of her approach with "the often intimate, familiar and tactile" character of the objects in the paintings. In successfully striking this balance, Springfield conveys a sense of both obsession and humor and recalls diverse influences, from the cakeshop realism of Wayne Thiebaud to the trompe l'oeil of John Peto.
In her most recent work, Springfield has begun to toy with the conventional boundaries of painting, employing wall labels, vitrines and pedestals to create an unexpected convergence of ordinary personal objects and institutional practices of display. Noting that "virtually everyone collects something," Springfield says she is "interested in the ways that collections of objects, whether in a museum or a scrapbook, can simultaneously record and construct memory -- both personally and cuturally."
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Molly Springfield is currently enrolled in the M.F.A. program at the University of California at Berkeley. Before Berkeley, she lived and worked in Washington, DC, exhibiting her work locally at venues such as Signal 66, Maryland Art Place, and the Maryland Institute College of Art.
Springfield's work can also be seen at another DC-area venue in March: the Howard County Center for the Arts in Ellicott City, MD, will display several of her paintings (March 14-April 23).
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