Clew: A Collaboration

Estana 1, 36 x 36″, mixed media on canvas

A Rich and Rewarding Disorientation

Deborah Barlow, Todd Hearon, Jung Mi Lee and Jon Sakata
Lamont Gallery
Phillips Exeter Academy
January 20 – April 15, 2017
Opening Reception: Friday, January 20, 5-7pm
Gallery Talk: Saturday, January 21, 10am

For more information about the collaboration and the artists:
Lamont Gallery

Like most visual artists, I work alone in a studio. Over the years I have often imagined how it would be to do a transdisciplinary, collaborative project. It has always seemed like something that could be delicious but highly unlikely, requiring a “perfect storm” singularity of just the right people, intentions and opportunity.

Clew became that perfect storm singularity for me. My collaborators—poet Todd Hearon and soundmasters Jon Sakata and Jung Mi Lee—are brilliant, open, curious, idea-rich. What emerged from of our collective efforts quickly took on a life of its own. During the many months of preparation I thought frequently about a statement David Salle made about how good art is often a story you didn’t even know needed telling. This project felt like that—a story that I didn’t know was there, but is.

For word lovers, here is a more detailed description of the project:

Clew: The word can mean variously a ball of yarn, part of a ship’s sail, and an expanse of wings. The most famous clew in Western culture was the ball of thread given to Theseus by Ariadne, used to guide the hero back through the labyrinth of the Minotaur. Over time clew has come to mean “a fact, circumstance, or principle which, being taken hold of and followed up, leads through a maze, perplexity, difficulty, intricate investigation” (OED). The labyrinth in that famous story is often a metaphor for what is baffling, complex and unfathomable. But a labyrinth can also suggest the mysterious and uncanny. Wandering through a maze—to be in a state of “amazement”—can be a rich and rewarding disorientation. When sailing in uncharted waters, the clew we need is one that brings us into proximity to the unknown and then back out again. Wings open and expand.

Clew is an artistic collaboration that emulates the labyrinth with its confluences and unexpected turnabouts. Using overlays of music, poetry and visual arts, four artists give viewers and listeners new ways to see, hear and navigate a tripartite, intricately layered world. Within the setting of a physical gallery space, all three formats intermingle freely, and scheduled events shift the central focus from poetry to sound to the visual. Experienced individually or collectively, Clew compounds and expands into a journey of multidimensionality and surprise.

Join in if you can.

Lamont Gallery
Phillips Exeter Academy
11 Tan Lane
Exeter NH 03833
603 777 3461

Mondays: By appointment
Tuesday-Fridays: 9-5
Saturdays: 10-5
Closed Sundays

6 Replies to “Clew: A Collaboration”

  1. Teresa Fritschi says:

    Deborah YOU HAVE EXPANDED MY HEART WITH THIS CANVAS!! This is my highest aspiration, this is how I feel almost daily, this canvas is my soul stretching itself to reconnect with Universal Love and amplify it. Genius and exquisite-ness at once.

    1. deborahbarlow says:

      Thank you so much T for your ebullient support of my work. I so appreciate your support. xoxo

  2. This show sounds marvelous.

    1. deborahbarlow says:

      Thanks so much Maureen. It has been great fun!

  3. Deborah – I echo Teresa’s sentiments, and Maureen’s too. This work has me on my knees.

    Thank you for introducing me to the word “Clew” – especially in the context of the labyrinth: “a … principle which, being taken hold of and followed up, leads through a maze, perplexity, difficulty, intricate investigation” – I realise it’s the perfect description of my inner journey of the last ten months. I have been riding the wings of a Clew, without a clue…

    1. deborahbarlow says:

      Louisa, it is a resonant idea, and one that has so many nooks and crannies in its permutations and meanings. I am so glad you have connected with that too.

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