If you were walking to Wilson Commons through the tunnels from Oct. 21-23, you may have seen a strange sight: a young woman tacking up fabric in the window loft overlooking Hartnett Gallery. That was Carlie Trosclair installing her new exhibit that opened last Thursday, Oct. 24 at Hartnett. She said she was pleasantly surprised to see people walking by because it perfectly fit the theme of her show, entitled “Traverse”.
Born and raised in New Orleans, Los Angeles, Trosclair earned her BFA at Loyola University, New Orleans and her MFA at the Sam Fox School at Washington University in St. Louis. As an undergraduate, she began to experiment with the sculptural aesthetics of stretched canvas and wooden frame, which spawned her current work in fabric, paper, and other pliable media as the sculptural components of site-specific installation art. She uses these pliant materials to transform inorganic architecture into animate spaces that humans can relate to; the cloth acts as the biological skin of the building. “Traverse” features separate pieces that, according to Trosclair, “are all talking about similar ideas,” specifically how their edges travel through the exhibit space.
The installation is easily the strongest aspect of the piece, distort the perspective of the triangle and crowding the interior of the loft. Funny enough, Trosclair was most excited about working with the triangular shape of the Hartnett Gallery, not realizing that it had a 22-foot-high loft. She said she called it “the pit, but that’s what you guys call the food place.”
The installation transforms the entire space, as if it were assimilating into the body of an unidentifiable organism.
Drawings hung on the walls, some made as early as 2011, are ostensible diagrams for her installations and are made quite playful through the use of layered multimedia. Although they are flat, many appear three-dimensional due to either a layer of gouache on transparency film, or overlapping gouache layers outlined pencil and ink. Although not blueprints for any particular sculpture, these drawings complement the other pieces quite well, offering art in fine-grained close-up to contrast the neck-craning magnetism of the installation.
Four sculptures are also a part of the exhibit: two on the floor, one on the wall, and one leaning against the wall. They echo the installation, appearing as if chunks of it had been taken off the wall, and recall Trosclair’s initial interest in canvas stretchers. The wall piece captures the light well through the interaction of several layers of cloth and the shadow it casts. The leaning sculpture’s vertical and symmetric composition attract the eye, which is rewarded again through the interplay of light and shadow on the wall. However, there is a disconnect between the other pieces and the sculptures, evidence that they were added to the exhibition only two weeks prior to its opening. Although a bit out of place, the freestanding sculptures do demonstrate the significance Trosclair places on the interaction of light and shadow.
Trosclair certainly draws inspiration from the architecture of the gallery for “Traverse,” which manifests her goal of “activating the architecture.”
She also demonstrates her ability to adjust her general plans.
“I would walk into a gallery and be like, ‘OK, it’s gonna do this’ and that was my [diagram],” she said.
Overall, “Traverse” is an impressive exhibit from such a young artist. Check it out, and be sure to watch out for Trosclair when she returns to the loft again in a few weeks to take it all down.
“Traverse” is on display until Nov. 17.
Libbey is a member of the class of 2016.