Tracey Morgan Gallery is pleased to present A Mirror, Not a Window, an exhibition of new and recent work by artist Hannah Cole. This is Cole’s second solo exhibition with the gallery. A reception for the artist will be held Friday, November 3 from 6-8PM.
This collection of paintings and sculptures continues Cole’s interest in creating, completely by hand, reproductions of small details and objects culled from her everyday life, turning the viewer’s attention to often overlooked aspects of our surrounding environment and reframing the very definition of representational art. With nods to pop art, trompe l’oeil, and modern American painters, Cole poses big questions about the nature of the artist’s hand, and the drive to (re)create.
A grouping of wall sculptures of nearly exact replicas of books which are hand-painted on wood blocks are included in the exhibition. These books are all non-fiction, mostly art related, though now un-readable. Instead of looking to books for answers, these objects force the viewer to provide the substance. The most self-referential of the group is Jean Baudrillard’s Simulacra and Simulation in which the French philosopher talks in dense prose about our culture of signs and signals eventually becoming copies without any originals. In Cole’s tongue-in-cheek nod, her faithful replica of Baudriallard’s philosophical work becomes an art object whose meaning has shifted completely from the original. Cole’s painted wood block cannot be read and has no actual utility at all, except as an object to contemplate.
A recurring element in Cole’s paintings is a hand-rendered tape measure running along the edge of her canvases. By including this common, easily recognizable object, Cole calls to question the “truth” of representation. Can we trust these measurements simply because they have identifiable markings? Other paintings on Styrofoam show painted wood grain edges, subverting the viewer’s expectation of where the painting itself is, and what it’s made of. We expect a painting to be on the outward-facing surface, but what if the faithful representation is painted on the sides?
In this contemporary age of Artificial Intelligence flooding us with copies, reproductions, fakes, and deliberate deceptions, anxieties regarding authenticity and authorship run high. Cole’s work invites contemplation of these deeply philosophical issues with a playful tone, presenting serious questions by way of common objects.
Hannah Cole studied at Yale University and Boston University. Her work has been exhibited at The Turchin Center for Visual Arts, NC; the Drawing Center, NY; the University of Maine Museum of Art; the Sherman Gallery at Boston University, MA; Tiger Strikes Asteroid, Greenville, NC; and the North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, among other national and international institutions. She currently lives and works in Asheville, NC.