Inventories and Observations
The wind was howling around me as I scurried into Carrack in Durham, NC. I had been anticipatory about this opening, not really understanding the pulling that I felt but trusting my instinct about this artist that I didn’t know at all save from a few hellos amongst friends. As I ventured up the staircase, I realized that a man with a walker was contemplating whether he could make the stairs. My wonderful partner offered assistance if he needed it, because art was above and no one should be kept from art. I also made a mental note to contact Carrack about accessibility.
Inside was warmth. Inside was cookies and beer. Inside was Iris.
Iris’ use of the pen is marvelous. Iris uses the smallest dots for shading, and is not afraid to use delicate lines instead of thick and stark to make a huge impact. All along the walls were these ethereal and tender drawings. Not just drawings but a catalog of the things you see but don’t see. As a writer it is my mission to catalog such things so I was more than delighted to see the mundane paperclip become a tiny celebrity, or the a shoestring become a darling thing. Each of Iris’ pieces forced my face to come closer, my eyes to track slowly. She has a way of making the understated elegant, and the tiny feel very big. After circling the perimeter of work on the walls, I realized there were also pedestals with sketchbooks atop. This created a space for friends and strangers to be intimate in a different way as they needed to stand fairly close to one another to flip through these tidy sketches. All of them were dated and in a military order. I was so impressed with this tidy that I spoke with Iris about it, suggesting that she read The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. She looked marvelous and young. I wondered as I watched her get swallowed up by admirers, if it was odd to hear her own name quietly said across a crowd.
There was something very familiar but utterly unique about her pieces that created huge warmth in the room. People laughed, touched each other, and felt comfortable speaking to strangers about the art. To create such an environment around art is a treasure, and as a stranger to most people in the room, I felt comfortable, warm, and right where I needed to be. I bought a small piece for my home. It was a depiction of an empty fish bowl. Underneath the fishbowl it said, “This is the home your fish hates to live in”. The title of the piece was “Hateful Fish”. Perfect.
As I bundled up, dropping a couple of dollars in the gallery donation box, I spied my friend with the walker. He was standing in front of a drawing of a Swingline stapler. He was smiling.
To view some of the pieces from Iris’ show: http://igottlieb.blogspot.com