Walking through the exhibition on display at State Street’s Work Gallery is like rifling through the pages of a stranger’s photo album. However, instead of just photographs, woodcut prints of landscapes, large graphic comics, cloth installations hung by black string and series of canvases with a few lines painted on them come to represent memories around the theme of “place.”

“Place-Mark” displays a collection of works from artists who have attempted to capture the physical or mental landscape of place. Because place is so inextricably linked to memory, the pieces in Work vary from the abstract to the concrete and manifest into all different mediums, reinforcing the notion that memories are both relative and changing.

“Place could be a geographical or a mental place,” said Catherine Meier, a masters candidate in Art & Design and juror of “Place-Mark.” You don’t always have to have one definition – though the latter is trickier to describe,”

Yet the most powerful pieces in Work, the ones that make you linger the extra few minutes, are those that depict specific memories. An inkjet print on aluminum by Bruce Myron, “I Could Not Stop My Friends From Killing Frogs,” transforms the what-would-be ordinary photograph of a pond and some grasses into a haunting glimpse of the artist’s childhood. The title of his second photograph depicting a makeshift hut of sticks, “We Buried Playboys and Cigarettes Where Nobody Would Find Them,” lets you in on one of his secrets.

By photographing the places in which his memories took place, rather than trying to depict the memory itself, Myron is sharing how it feels to remember a place. In doing this he captures a cross between enchanting nostalgia, innocent confession and daring realism in his highly saturated panoramic photographs.

It’s odd that the pieces at Work that emit the strongest sense of place do so through their words. A sculptural series of five teacups with roly-polies, spiders and bees crawling on them do not reach their full potential without their title, “I Was Only Allowed to Play in Grandma’s Basement Once.”

Meier herself hasn’t figured out how to reach a visual understanding of place without text. Her piece, “Here, 17 Miles West of Chambers,” is a series of replicated woodcuts stretching nearly 30 feet, which captures the vast openness and repetition of the plains. If you fix your eyes on the piece and then walk alongside the landscape, it appears as though you were watching the plains go by, driving 17 miles just outside of Chambers.

Included in the display is a wooden carrying box, which Meier uses to store the rolled up landscape. Written on the end of the box in black marker is “Here, 17 Miles West of Chambers.”

“It’s the idea of containing place in a portable manner,” Meier said. “Place came about as an idea of how people mark it.”

In the basement of Work alone, place is “marked” in three different ways. Meier’s organic woodcut is displayed alongside a crisp digital print of an arctic beach and an installation of hanging cloth with black thread sewn into the landscape to represent the natural path of travel. The different ways in which these artists choose to represent their memories of landscape is indicative of how place can take various forms and evoke striking emotions.

Work is much more than a glorified photo album of other people’s memories hanging on the walls. Sure, it seems as if you are walking through the ghost of many artists’ pasts, but the pieces in Work say something about how their memories have been constructed and continue to change. After the show is over, they will wrap their work up in wooden carrying boxes, leaving their memories and places on the shelf until they are ready to be revisited again.


Through Mar. 28

At the Work Gallery

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