Melora Kuhn presents her first show of sculpture, mostly ceramic female heads, broken from their bodies, propped up and lying down; delicately and precariously balanced. The eyes are closed, allowing the viewer to gaze upon the wreckage without confrontation. At first glance, the sculptures appear as ancient relics, displayed as one would find at a museum. Pieces broken, puzzled together with dates of relevance as in MCMLXXI. The viewer is witness to a history turned to stone, to stories frozen in memory like the smudged lips of head MCMLXXXIV, as if a hand had just wiped the scarlet paint off a harlots mouth, in a state of permanently fallen disarray. Head MMVIII is missing its skull. It stands empty with the aid of an iron scaffolding, referencing structures of thought that support a facade.
By definition, an ode infers praise or gives poetic attention towards something. A relic is a piece of the body of a deceased holy person or an object of sentimental or historical importance. In Odes to Relics Kuhn has brought our attention to a reverent part absent from the books of history and knowledge; the woman’s head and mind. Kuhn’s new work continues with themes of re-examined histories. She uses techniques of breakage, overlays, and mending to reveal psychological states; highlighting unseen characters in dominant narratives. Kuhn’s Odes to Relics is a survivor’s tale, a testament, and praise to the inherent beauty and strength of a woman’s body and mind, and her ability to endure.
Text by Dawn Breezeall images © the gallery and the artist(s)