Bad Seed, 2016, charcoal and ink pastel on paper
Surrounded by Feeling is the current show by Ellen Goldschmidt at Blackfish Gallery. At first glance I wasn’t too interested in a show of portraits but as I moved through the space to the back of the gallery I was drawn in more and more.
I’m not always a fan of artist statements because they can be overworked to the point of making the art stand in the background. Goldschmidt’s statement, however, completely made this show for me.
While working on “privileging emotion” in a series of portraits she was working on Goldschmidt was reminded of the 2015 show Gods and Heroes at the Portland Art Museum. It featured a section of works from the Expressive Head Competition from the Paris Academy in the 18th century, works that are attempting to depict emotion rather than Goldschmidt’s attempts to inhabit emotion.
I love connections like this. I would never had viewed this show and thought back to the Gods and Heroes exhibit but once she mentioned it my brain was ready to make all sorts of new comparisons and connections. What a difference 250 years can make.
Toward the bottom of her statement, almost as an afterthought, Goldschmidt mentions that many of the drawings are “concerned with my relationship to my older sister and the sibling rivalry that consumed our childhood”. Well then. There’s a story there, but we don’t know it, and now the drawings have a heightened tension as titles like Bad Seed and Sister’s Arm take on a whole new meaning.
Surrounded by Feeling stayed stuck in my head for days and writing about it now I already have Bad Seed back in mind and those questions and connections that make life interesting.
Blackfish Gallery is located at 420 NW 9th Ave in Portland, Oregon and is open from 11-5 Tuesday through Saturday. Surrounded by Feeling by Ellen Goldschmidt runs from May 3-28.