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“Ghosts in my eye
under the shroud cry
leave me here no more.”
– Excerpted from “Take Care of Your Sister, Part One” by Molly Lamb
It is a rare artist who can make the intangible, tangible. Photographer and poet Molly Lamb, utilizing the natural world – earth, water, light and air – eloquently invokes memory and loss. Her contemplative images of inherited family belongings delicately convey sensations of home and history. In three interrelated suites of photographs and verse, Lamb’s solo exhibit “Home and Away” is on view at Rick Wester Fine Art in New York through November 19, 2016.
All of Lamb’s work mines the emotional terrain of home and displacement, personal history and loss. Her first suite, Ghost Stepping (2012-2014), focuses on the memorabilia left to her by family members, some of whom she never knew. Her quiet meditations on their belongings, whether shadowed, reflected or isolated in a room, speak of presence and absence in muted tones and soft light. Lamb offers sufficient visual cues to spark recognition but remains elusive enough to coax the memories and imaginations of viewers.
The suite entitled Let It Go (2013-2014) is Lamb’s emotional response to the repeated packing and unpacking of her relatives’ possessions in the first suite. Moved to understand a past steeped in Southern tradition, but lacking a home to which she can return, Lamb retreats to the Southern landscape, creating photographs so nuanced and fragile that they catch my breath. Water, paradoxically life sustaining and life threatening, features prominently in these images, as does the day’s last light. In this ethereal work, Lamb’s sensitive modulation of light infuses her graceful compositions with an expectant and wondering aura.
In Take Care of Your Sister (2015-2016) Lamb moves toward reconciling the loss of her family and their largely undiscoverable past with her own history and future. Employing the Mississippi Delta as the grounding for her displaced home, Lamb’s imagery resonates with a sense of peace with a past she may never know. The photographs in this series feature bright focal points and more vibrant backdrops. For the first time in her symphonic work, we see signs of life, from nests and root balls to insects and a boy’s jubilant summer dive.
The three suites in “Home and Away” all use the landscape as a language with which to articulate the universal theme of finding one’s place in this world. Possessing exquisitely expressive light, sophisticated composition and refined palette, each suite functions as a chapter that touches on a different aspect of Lamb’s visual and poetic narrative. In exploring the internal harmony and emotional dissonance that ensued from attempting to unravel her personal history, Lamb touches nerves that shiver down the spine.
For more information about this exhibit, go to: http://www.rickwesterfineart.com/exhibitions-archive/2016/7/15/home-and-away
Feature Image: “Untitled 9, 2016” (detail) from the series Take Care of Your sister by Molly Lamb (courtesy of the artist and Rick Wester Fine Art, NY).