November 21, 2011

Kelly Mc Cafferty, "Trash Talk", Solo Show in East One Gallery

Review by Leigh Hurwitz, History of Art and Design/ Library Sciences Graduate Student (2012)

detail from "Stalagmite Stalactite", 2011, collage on paper
Ranging in size, but hovering around 6 ft x 3 ft, the five collages making up Kelly McCafferty’s current exhibit in East One Gallery vibrate with the strains of a choir of disparate voices.  McCafferty's background in abstract painting is clear in these compositions, made of paper, plastic, and bought/found items, all adhered to pink or white paper canvases, evocative of a grade school bulletin board.  But emotion, memory, and nostalgia are all refracted through the prism of colorful formalism.

Stopping short of fetishism, these collages make the case for objects themselves having a memory, a personal history.  There is a desolate sadness radiating around each one, from the anachronistic Roger Rabbit collector cards to the piece of tessellated Japanese paper with one small red stain. A codified arrangement of bisected shopping bags, musical silhouetted rabbits, already-peeled Sanrio stickers, and patterns of tape (caution, packing, duck, scotch) are aligned to suggest a record of…someone.  An alien finding consolation on an unfamiliar planet?  

detail from "Thanks a Bunch", 2011, collage
A post-apocalyptic anthropologist?  Or are these the rainbow residues of a teenage girl vomiting up a buffet of consumer culture, the proverbial assumption of feminine sweetness, and the unstoppable force of growing up? 

These are all my interpretations, however the true protagonist is actually the artist herself.  A scrapbook, a locker, an under-the-bed shoebox of treasures, are all containers that inspire this diaristic work.   So what was that chorus of lo-fi keening I heard emanating from each panel?  I think it was the crooning of each dislocated object, mourning its own loss and yearning for amnesia.

Photos by Lauren Smith

This exhibition is part of the Student Exhibition Spaces Program coordinated by the Center for Career and Professional Development at Pratt Institute.  All current students can submit work for inclusion in future exhibitions by emailing for more information.

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