Works by Anne Gilman At Princeton Day School
GILMAN AT WORK: Drawings and works on paper by artist Ann Gilman are featured in “At the still point of the turning world,” on view through December 17 at the Anne Reid ’72 Gallery at Princeton Day School.
Anne Reid ’72 Gallery at Princeton Day School, 650 Great Road, presents “At the still point of the turning world,” an exhibition of drawings and works on paper by Anne Gilman, on view through December 17.
Gilman is a Brooklyn-based artist who works in varying formats that include large-scale drawings and multi-panel projects. The political, social, and personal concerns that fuel all forms of moods, worries, and psychological states of being are the materials that feed her work. She begins by using her own thoughts and experiences as a starting point, writing extemporaneously across 1/2-inch lines she rules across the page. The resulting drawings are a mapping of information, thought and emotion. The exhibition takes its title from T.S. Eliot’s epic “Four Quartets,” a meditation on the nature of time. Eliot leads the reader through undulations of the past and the future, re-centering us consistently back within the present moment. Gilman does much the same in her artwork; echoing the practice of meditation through observation and acceptance of thoughts and emotions as they come.
Works like Flashpoint (2021), made at the height of the pandemic and during the nationwide Black Lives Matter protests, mourn a year stricken with anger, grief, and confusion. Restless scratching and mark-making break through the surface of the drawing and Gilman’s minimal yet specific use of color suggests urgency and heat. Fragments of text within the drawing such as, “I thought the fires had stopped but I was mistaken,” allude to the devastating fires that raged through California this past year and reveal parts of Gilman’s process; writing freely and then self-editing as thoughts and feelings shift with time. The inclusion of a Yahrzeit candle at the base of the drawing (used in the Jewish religion to honor loved ones who have died) memorializes those lost at the hands of the police and to the pandemic.
Another drawing, A particular kind of quiet (2018), rests on the floor like a reflecting pool with two small clear, glass spheres placed like tear-drops over a deep expanse of blue and black pigment. We enter the work with a downturned and reverent gaze. Fragments of writing such as, “Is this filling space like what people do to pass time? Like the day has to be filled with something — or else what?” center us around the labor of art-making and asks us to consider our relationship with productivity and its impact on our self-worth as artists and as human beings.
In other works, literal and suggestive references to land, sea, and space have a somber atmosphere, as she presents them with both reverence and concern, alluding to nature’s fragile balance and pressing concerns for the health of the planet. In the wake of a year colored by extreme isolation, fear of illness, and economic shutdown, it seems especially vital to consider the personal, social, and political systems we have come to know and live by. Gilman demonstrates through her practice a way to grant ourselves the space and the time to be present and still, as lessons from the past and fears for the future collide.
Gilman’s work has been included in numerous solo and group exhibitions throughout the United States, Latin America, and Europe including Mexico, Havana, Berlin, Paris, Chicago, Philadelphia, and New York. She was a recipient of a Fellowship from the Edward Albee Foundation in 2010, a MacDowell Fellowship in 2012, a Chenven Foundation award in 2015, and a Two Trees Cultural Space Subsidy Program in 2017 for her commitment to community outreach. Her work has been featured in Hyperallergic, Art Spiel, Bomb Magazine, and is in the collections of The National Museum of Women in the Arts, The Brooklyn Museum, New York Public Library, Azerbaijan Museum, and The Library of Congress.
A bilingual version of her artist book, Frayed Edges, was published by Ediciones Vigía in Matanzas/Cuba and her artist book, this place / this hour, was included in an exhibition commemorating the 200th anniversary of Walt Whitman. She is an adjunct professor, CCE, in the Graduate MFA Program at Pratt Institute where she has taught for over 20 years.