In the face of disquiet

Cora Stafford Gallery
October 10, 2018 to October 20, 2018

In the face of disquiet is a graduate student invitational exhibition, presenting works by Jessi Sawyer and Kendra Smith, inspired by the seeking of solace from the disquiet of being.


Opening Reception
Thursday, October 18, 5-7 pm

About the Exhibition

In the face of disquiet presents imagery inspired by the seeking of solace from the disquiet or anxiety of being. In the novel Moby Dick, author Herman Melville calls the global crew of hired sailors Isolatoes–a people individual and isolated, each “living on a separate continent of his own.” As for Melville’s sailors, aspiration paired with livelihood usually require one to choose or even acquiesce to places to live that disconnect one from family, tradition and identity. Graduate school often marks the beginning of this lifelong sense of separation. In response, graduate students Jessi Sawyer and Kendra Smith use their art to proclaim markers or signifiers of self-identity. Their imagery suggests desire for communion with others, with nature and with home.

Jessi Sawyer’s imagery and forms recall memories of spaciousness, simplicity, and seclusion. A horse’s methodical hoof prints in the snow, views of quiet landscapes, and the physical nature of a house or barn in space make up the subjects of Sawyer’s art. Her spare visual language, powerfully composed, transports us to these expansive scenes and makes room, as it were, for interior peace and rest.

Kendra Smith immerses herself in the physical place of the present. Her photographs and video document symbols of routine, emotion and identity. Often uncomfortably situated on private property, Smith composes images of desolate homes and public spaces. Void of harmony or human presence, the images embody a brokenness or emptiness that mirrors Smith’s sense of unwanted isolation. As she explores, she also finds visual signs that relieve her disquiet. Repetition in threes reconnects her to triplet siblings, and domestic orderliness conveys presence and community.

Top: Jessi Sawyer, In the Fields We Grow, 2017
Middle: Kendra Smith, Family, 2017
Bottom: Jessi Sawyer, Landscape I: February, 2018