The Past Present – Work by Molly Bosley and Athena Petra Tasiopoulos

Burlington City Arts • Burlington, VT • • January 20–April 8, 2017

By: Meg Brazill

MollyBosley WishYouWereHereDetail 8X6
Tasiopoulos Focus mixedmedia 5x7
Above top to bottom: Molly Bosley, Wish You Were Here (detail), 8 x 6″. Athena Petra Tasiopoulos, Focus, mixed media, 5 x 7″.

The photos, texts and ephemera that history leaves in its wake come under close scrutiny when artists Molly Bosley and Athena Petra Tasiopoulos alter and re-introduce them in different forms and new identities in this two-person exhibition.

Bosley’s intricate web of cut paper images unfurls across the gallery’s walls as a sprawling black-and-white narrative. Paper cutting, her medium, is a tradition dating back to 4th century China and, for this exhibit, Bosley is making the largest cut paper work she has created yet. Working with rolls of 250-weight, 100% cotton, black paper, Bosley cuts the paper to create negative space. One piece from her Wish You Were Here series includes cutouts of utility lines, power transformers, motel and liquor store signs, motor homes and shopping carts. Bathing beauties, and other figures, populate it, all connected by a web of what looks like lace, honeycomb and fish scales. The black paper emanates a vision that is darker and more haunting. Its own weight pulls it from the wall in places, suggesting a deterioration of the American dream.

Tasiopoulos’s collages—precise arrangements of paper, accentuated with hand drawn marks—were often times inspired by an antique photograph. She avoids divulging a specific narrative, instead creating a dialogue between pairings of works, and between the audience and her art. She manipulates photographs of Victorian-era women—removing their curls, for example—using computer and hands-on techniques, rendering the women androgynous and unrecognizable. She may have removed the eyes but the effect is a window through the “eyes of the soul” to another place. In Tasiopoulos’s hands, these images have been elevated to something much more akin to a Greek statue than a family portrait. They may be without arms or eyes, but they radiate beauty and mystery, posing more questions than answers.

Curator Kerri Macon recognized the traditional techniques employed by both artists, updated with a contemporary twist, as well as their mutual attraction to the past, and combines their disparate approaches to great effect here.

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