Friday, June 07, 2013

TERRI THORNTON at The Reading Room

Star Navigation: exhibition notes repost where I wrote . . .

When I visit the Dallas Reading Room gallery, I am often confronted with strong conceptual art that gets my mind racing and their current show with Terri Thornton is no exception. I have been intellectually captivated by her work so much that I am planning to hear her artist talk this Saturday, April 6th at 5 pm at the Reading Room. What grabbed my attention are her letters and words.

shaped into aesthetic fonts that make reading pleasurable. But generally we don’t think of the craft of the letters or other shapes and spaces these words can create until an artist re-imagines the use of words. Terri Thornton messes one piece’s words together until only the very edges of the block are readable. The center loses it readability and becomes just a pure object. Unlike concrete poets who use the meaning of words and reshape them into composition, Thornton ignores the meanings of the words and leaves just an aesthetic experience with only hints of meaning. Because of this drawing, I found myself enjoying the text in her other works as object and I read less of the words to extract meaning.

Her walls of edited writings made my mind flash back to Jenny Holzer’s series of paintings on censored government released documents. Though neither Holzer nor Thornton’s work are similar, random thoughts like that seemed to spark in me just from looking at Thornton’s drawings. Like the Samuel Beckett quote she sets us up to read, “We cannot know and we cannot be known,” from his essays titled Proust, I instantly wanted to talk about my experience reading Marcel Proust’s translated novel, Remembrance of Things Past. Then, when I went home, I had to explore this book by Beckett. I don’t often have an art work compel me to read a book, so I was thankful for the connections.

Now, this is not a fully text laden show, but even those images of a mouth and a faded Rorschach test sample help to generate conversation. I wish I had gone to the opening to hear other people’s interpretations of the work, but maybe the artist talk will have more people when I visit. Because, with all those ideas striking my brain, I am sure more perspectives on the subjects will spur new ideas and new things to look up when I get home.

Terri Thornton isn’t all just cerebral; there is a little playfulness she leaves hidden in the bathroom. But you will have to look for these fun little pieces. Getting To Know You, is an exhibition of drawings and related material by the Curator of Education at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Terri Thornton, which is at The Reading Room through April 14, 2013. for more images.

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