Anne Krinsky: Shelf Life

3 September – 5 November 2011

Anne Krinsky, Shelf Life
Shelf Life, detail of installation, acrylic and mixed media on panels
(click on images to enlarge)

When Anne Krinsky was a child her parents owned a bookstore. This series recalls that time in her life when the love of books formed the family’s livelihood. The heart of Shelf Life consists of 8 shelves, designed by the artist, each one with four panels. They are arranged around the gallery one shelf at a time, except on one wall where there are two shelves stacked, visually implying a bookcase.

Shelf Life Elm
Shelf Life Elm

These "book-like objects" (Krinsky) reference images from the artist’s storehouse of imagery as well as from books in the library’s collection. Krinsky asked our librarians to help her select out of copyright books with unusual images, in addition to her own research. The central image from the panel "Shelf Life Elm" comes from The Field Book of American Trees and Shrubs by F. Schuyler Mathews. The inspiration for the use of the elm tree image grew out of conversations with library staff about previously commissioned work for the library (Ray Ciemny’s book installed on the stone staircase outside the library contains the word elm) and a comment from library director Owen Shuman about a patron’s remembrance of how Main Street used to be lined with elm trees, so much so that when they were in full leaf, driving through Main Street was like driving through a dark tunnel. Anne references this history in her work, linking the history of the library and town of Groton to her artistic vision, enriching both.

Shelf Life Calligraphy
Shelf Life Calligraphy

An earlier rendition of Shelf Life was shown at the Trustman Gallery of Simmons College in October of 2010, and there is one panel in this show ("Shelf Life 11") that was inspired by a window in their recently renovated library. The layers of paint result in a translucent effect, and the horizontal lines mimic the pattern of the window. It will be interesting to see how Shelf Life evolves as the exhibit travels and absorbs the flavor and texture of new venues, libraries and institutions.

These panels, these "book-like objects," are small, layered, mixed media paintings. Krinsky’s images are meticulously built up layer by layer. There are snowflakes hidden in the panels, and more overt transfers of Chinese calligraphy and botanical forms. Her love of pattern informs many of the panels, especially the variations on a theme that comprise panels like "Shelf Life 17" and "Shelf Life 18."

Shelf Life Chamomile
Shelf Life Chamomile

When she was in residence at the Rocky Neck Art Colony in Gloucester in 2010, the studio windows had blinds and she noticed light falling through the blinds onto rolls of mylar. The patterns thus made could be manipulated by moving the mylar in relation to the light and watching the patterns shift. Krinsky photographed these and transferred photocopied images into several panels in the Shelf Life series, such as "Shelf Life Chamomile" and "Shelf Life Hybrid."

There is an attention to surface and a painterly quality that lend emotional depth to the meticulous layering and the careful compositions. She often sands down panels, allowing segments of earlier sections to be glimpsed through later additions and re-workings. With each successive layer of paint, transfer and collage, there is a richness and a history whose depth becomes palpable. Extended viewing is rewarded.

Shelf Life Turquoise
Shelf Life Turquoise

In Krinsky’s most successful panels, there is a tension between order and chaos. At times the appearance of order is belied by the chaos beneath, the chaos implied by freewheeling swirls and drips of multicolored paint so at odds with the meticulous rendering of pattern. At other times the order is subverted by sanded down layers of historical struggle (Shelf Life Calligraphy, Shelf Life Trefoil 2); as if the pattern could dissolve or decay at any moment. This tension lends a satisfying edge that keeps the viewer coming back for more. Together these 8 shelves of panels, this library in miniature, create a visual panoply of images replete with all the joys of a painterly surface combined with a satisfying depth of layered history.

Deborah Santoro, Curator

Image Transfer Techniques with Acrylics: A Workshop with Anne Krinsky will be held on Saturday, October 8, 11:00 am - 1:30 pm. Sign up online to attend this workshop.

All are welcome to a reception & talk with the artist on: Thursday, September 22, from 6:30-8:00 pm. This event is free and open to the public.

This exhibit is supported by the Groton Public Library Endowment Trust and the artist's talk is funded by the Groton Trust Funds Lecture Fund. The workshop is supported in part by a grant from the Groton Cultural Council, a local agency which is supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.