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September 20, 2017

Kristin Nason to unveil pair of exhibits at Hampden Gallery

Years/Places” and “Cold Storage”

Kristin Nason, University of Massachusetts alumnus and Massachusetts native, will be opening her show ’16/28: Years/Places’ in the Hampden Gallery on Feb. 1.The exhibit comprises 16 black and white photographic self-portraits overlaid with satellite maps of the 16 places the artist has lived in her 28 years.

‘The intent of this project,’ she writes on her webpage, ‘was to consider the effects of environment on who we become, while also emphasizing how much actually remains constant as time passes.’

Though the individual portraits vary slightly in terms of facial expression, hairstyle and closeness, the continuity between frames overwhelms the dissimilarity imposed by the satellite maps on the portraits. In this way, the project seemingly articulates the fact that people remain the same at the core throughout their lives. Nason explains that, ‘as I began to work I realized it was more accurately about a lack of change. Place and experience shape me, but I move forward with the majority of my innate tendencies and sensibilities intact.’

The piece deliberately accentuates the similarity throughout ’16/28:Years/Places’ to articulate a fundamental lack of change as a result of time and place. ‘This series attempts to address the rift between one’s experience of place, and the detached objectivity of documents that describe only its physical characteristics.’ Further, she writes that ‘the use of only black and white film for the self-portraits, as well as the absence of significant variation of facial expression, suggests limited personal change, while the overlaid color satellite maps point to the place where physical location meets personal experience.’

Curator Anne LaPrade Seuthe explains that what drew her to Nason’s work were the ‘visually gripping’ qualities of her work that invite the viewer to further explore the ‘underlying conceptual concerns of the artist.’ Interestingly, the clean lines and understated sharpness of the images seem to contradict the obscurity and fluidity of the ideas she seeks to examine. Like many of her other works, including ‘Obsolete Communication (Sending a Telegram),’ where an electrical telegraph is arranged on a table, she deals with abstract themes but in visually plain terms.

Nason’s other piece, ‘Cold Storage,’ which will be shown in conjunction with ’16/28′ and Tim Gough’s exhibit ‘The Resulting Effect’ at the Hampden Gallery, similarly deals with occasional divergent themes of physical and emotional experience. ‘This installation,’ Nason writes, ‘deals with memories and their gradual transition from ‘cold storage’ to present experience.’

It is striking that two exhibits showing at the same time in the same place and by the same artist can deal with such paradoxical aspects of human nature. While on one hand ’16/28′ suggests that very little changes with time, ‘Cold Storage’ emphasizes the creeping nature of personal development and the consciousness, or acceptance of memory. ‘These building blocks of our person’ she writes, ‘surprise us, like chunks of foundation suddenly exposed.’

One wonders whether the significance of the 16 places in Nason’s 28 years will ultimately thaw into full flavor, or whether they will remain in their neat trays in the freezer of the artist’s consciousness.

Kristin Nason’s ’16/28: Years/Places’and ‘Cold Storage’ will both be on display this Sunday at the Fine Arts Center’s Hampden Art Gallery. The event is free and open to the public. The exhibit will tentatively run through Feb. 28.

Caroline Scannell can be reached at ccscanne@student.umass.edu.

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