When Viewing Molly Garrett’s Artwork, Consider This

 Still from Steps to Balance 1-5 by Molly Garrett (2017) Single channel hand-drawn animation. Image courtesy of the artist.

Still from Steps to Balance 1-5 by Molly Garrett (2017) Single channel hand-drawn animation. Image courtesy of the artist.

Congratulations! You’ve done it. You’ve made it out of your house to this show. You’ve peeled yourself from the warmth of your bed, put on some decent-ish clothes, hopped in your car, and made your way downtown, faces past, and you’re art-bound. Or perhaps you made it here today after work. You put off that deadline, bolted from exhausting colleague chatter at the snack counter, and escaped an office that is always too cold. (Expense a space heater. That’ll teach ‘em).

You did this to be here today at Against the Screen and you are either about to, in the middle of, or have just concluded walking through the current collection of artwork before you.

Have you seen Molly Garrett’s piece I’ll Come To You / You Come to Me (Human Error Loop) yet? You should. Before you do, here are a few musings to consider as you spend time with the artwork. Consider this a guided meditation through the installation.

  1. Notice Your Surroundings
    1. First things first: note the objects, sounds, and sights around you. Acknowledge any passing thoughts or emotions that the installation provokes. Sit with them, but not for too long. You’ve got a few other things to consider.
  2. The Artist’s Process
    1. Garrett’s animation work requires that they trace each frame you see by hand. This rotoscoping process may seem tedious, but such repetitive work can be a meditative practice that allows one to spend time knowing and learning how the body moves, how certain poses and weight shifts are articulated, and how these movements all flow into the next.
    2. As you view these animations, consider the range of movement represented onscreen compared to your own as you stand still or walk about. If your movements were captured through Garrett’s animation process, what would the individual frames of your walk look like?
  3. Your Body
    1. Become aware of your body and the space it occupies against the monitors. Consider the way the body is fractured within the different screens and their relationship to one another. Consider how your body complements and completes the images onscreen. Just as parts of a person are fragmented here through the monitors, so is the identity we project through our own screens. We show only fragments and snippets (usually only the best) of ourselves through our online personas. Our computer and phone screens reflect back to us just a small portion of our selves and that is what we experience of others too.
  4. Time
    1. Consider how Garrett’s animation, with all its individually hand-drawn, and therefore different, frames all constitute the same body part. It changes throughout time as the video progresses, but still remains the same. Thus are we. Our body and our self is not continuous throughout time. We are not the same person throughout all our lives as we undergo deep psychological and emotional changes, as well as physical ones. And yet you are still you. When was the last time you changed?
  5. Balance
    1. Garrett’s past work includes a series of animations featuring them and their partner lifting and balancing each other. That visual acts as a metaphor for the inevitable balancing act that happens once you enter a relationship. You ultimately start to balance the parts of your identity that are yours and yours alone, versus the parts that have been influenced by your loved one.
    2. Consider opening yourself up to the artwork as you would a partner. Do one last loop. Let yourself fully, openly, and unabashedly feel and think what you need to feel and think about the artwork. Consider the balance and dialogue between your identity, your current mood, and what thoughts or bias you carry into this exhibition versus the thoughts, feelings or ideas Garrett is presenting you with here. Spend as much time with it as you want. As you try to lift and balance it on your back, let it gently try to support your weight too.

Well, how was it? What did you think?

This essay is part of a series commissioned, in collaboration with Informality Blog, for the exhibition Against the Screen at La Esquina Gallery (1000 W 25 Street KCMO) open from August 25 through October 7, 2017. These pieces, co-edited by Melaney Mitchell (Founder & Senior Editor of Informality Blog) and Lynnette Miranda (Curator-in-Residence at Charlotte Street Foundation) focus on a shared goal of bringing the eyes of national writers to the work of Kansas City-based artists. 

Yisa Fermin is an art director and multimedia artist working primarily in Super 8 and video. She received a degree in Film and Art History from Barnard College, Columbia University. Currently, she works at Sunshine Sachs where she produces social media content, videos, and other marketing materials for clients like Kiehl’s, UN Refugee Agency, Brooks Running, and more.