Some of us were born here. Some of us found our way here. Somewhere we lost ourselves in the silk city and the place took us in. This city is, first and foremost, an American city. So many things have happened in Paterson, New Jersey. Most of these things have been lost. We are working to recover some of that history, weaving it together with our own obsessions and compulsions. This unearthing process is rife with conflict, as Paterson is a place striated with contradiction. We can’t help but see ourselves reflected in its histories: in the rise and fall of the first planned industrial city, in the historic labor unrest, and in the grand, eroded leisure. We explore not a place of inherent nostalgia, but a network of restless spaces for and of contemplation.
Installed on the third floor of Paterson’s historic Fabricolor Building, Great Fallings brings together four artists working in a range of media, including sculpture, video and installation. Exploring a range of issues from gender performance to ecological systems to embroidery, our work intersects around a shared interest in Paterson’s physical history, specifically its role as a center of industry, labor and leisure. Through research and repeated visits to Paterson, each of us brings our own methodology and sensibility to bear in creating work that takes the city as its starting point and focus. The unique raw space of the Fabricolor Building, a former dye factory, becomes an integral element of an exhibition that could be staged nowhere else.
Kerry Downey’s video installation links athletics and labor, the body and the landscape, local tales to national and international narratives. She uses Paterson’s abandoned, historic Hinchliffe stadium as a set for a lone athlete’s struggle for victory. Ellie Irons’ installation investigates the history and present status of water ecology in Paterson through sculptures, topographical drawings, and a floating sweet potato garden. Lori Merhige mines her own family history in the embroidery trade to explore the soon-to-be-lost history of Paterson’s textile industry through a sound, video and sculptural installation. Claudia Peña’sexploratory walks through Paterson will lay the foundation for her installation-based practice, through which she examines the term “Falls” through photographs, objects, and found detritus.
Great Fallings is part of a series of events and exhibitions held with the support of the Paterson Arts Council. The exhibition will be open Saturdays and Sundays beginning May 15, and will continue through June 13th, 2010. It will be part of the 2010 Paterson Arts Walk, held on Saturday, June 12th, 2010. The Fabricolor Building is located at 24 1/2 Van Houten Street, Paterson, New Jersey.
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