TRENTON – A unique display of common objects, grouped together to tell a compelling story, will be on display at Mercer County Community College’s (MCCC) James Kerney Campus Gallery (JKCG) in the upcoming exhibit “Kissed & Toothless,” by artist Dominica Paige.
“The experience of looking at Dominica Paige’s installation work is like wandering through an estate sale of a home that had only one family for 100 years, but now the family is gone and the only record of their existence are these objects,” said JKCG Director Michael Chovan-Dalton. “There’s a sense of family, loss, adventure, and mysticism.”
The show runs from Sept. 10 to Oct. 8, with an opening reception and artist talk on Wednesday, Sept. 18, from 5 to 7 p.m. JKCG is located in MCCC's Trenton Hall, 137 North Broad Street in Trenton, across the street from the James Kerney Building.
Paige said the exhibit is created with personal objects she has obtained through the years, and presented to evoke a sense of reality rooted in the tangible, but altered by the fragility of human memory.
“The manner in which my possessions are organized often creates fabricated versions of reality and calls into question our strategies for translating truth into narrative,” Paige said. “I write, restructure, and edit my experiences via the configuration of my collection. Sometimes the arrangements settle into a world that isn’t shifting and solidifies in a photograph. Other times the compositions continue to fluctuate as they are defined.”
The show consists of shelves and other displays with an arrangement of artifacts that might go unnoticed by themselves, but together reveal – or perhaps conceal – a story: A Polaroid photograph, playing cards, a handwritten letter, a dirty tea cup, a wedding ring.
“The installations create stories – enigmas become disguised as assertions and truths take on the patina of forgery,” Paige said. “The viewer is a voyeur into my world where everything straddles the territory of metaphor, myth, memory, and veracity.”
Chovan-Dalton adds that these tangible objects, things that we can see, touch, and feel, create a history – even if it is fictitious. In “Kissed & Toothless,” Paige leaves it up to the viewer to create their own narrative, and their own reality.
“It is a three-dimensional family album that hints at a greater story of the lives of the people who lived in a place, and it is all fiction,” Chovan-Dalton said. “The objects, notes, images and records that people create, collect, lose, and leave behind are meant to provide for a record of a life lived, but contemporary context and interpretation of evidence can never fully match the essence of who a person was and the stories that they made.
“Paige’s installation challenges our trust and romantic ideals that we place in the records of our own history.”
More about Paige's work is available here.