THE TALKING CURE

THE WEISMAN ART MUSEUM

MINNEAPOLIS, MINN.

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From September 3 to April 30 WAM’s Target Studio for Creative Collaboration will be filled with a menagerie of quirky, quasi-human figures. Created by New York-based artist Melissa Stern, these figures teeter between funny and serious, and familiar and strange. Taking the forms of sculptures and drawings, they lack limbs or boast disproportionate and unlikely parts, sharing a sense of being slightly off-kilter.

They look like they could, even should, fall down, but don’t, and are thereby suggestive of life’s balancing acts. Like all balancing acts, Stern’s figures can inspire amusement and delight, while all touching a tender nerve. Stern explains her figures are inspired by the “universe of people” who inhabit her brain, and they emerged in response to “how absurd the world seems sometimes.” As emotionally resonant and endearingly imperfect as they may be, viewers still often wonder: what do they mean?

Rather than resolve this question, Stern turns it back to the viewer: what do you think they mean? In this move, she notes she sounds a bit like a therapist, using questions to draw out stories, memories, and intimate thoughts. And this reference to psychology is not a one-off: The Talking Cure takes its name from Sigmund Freud’s therapeutic methods and theories known as psychoanalysis.

Stern is not a devotee of psychoanalysis, but she is interested in creating art that resonates with viewers, triggers their emotions and memories, and draws out their personal stories and reflections. She also embraces the difficult process of letting go (be it of “emotional baggage” or things we can’t control). She “let go” of her artwork by inviting twelve writers to pick a sculpture in The Talking Cure that “spoke” to them and then write a monologue giving voice to that sculpture.

The writers brought a wide range of perspectives to her work. Yet they each have sensitivity to the fact that in these sculptures Stern captures those “fleeting, fugitive emotions” we often want to damp down. Stern requested the writers “let go” of their monologues by giving them to twelve actors who then performed them without directional cues. Recordings of these performances accompany the sculptures on view.

It was Stern’s background in anthropology and the anthropological question of why people make things that initially drew her to art. As a professional artist, she has maintained a transdisciplinary perspective that has inspired her to explore the boundaries between visual, literary, and theatrical forms.

We hope the sculptures will “speak” to you, and the exhibition will be a platform for you to share your story, while reflecting on the power of stories to inform who we are and how we treat one another.

 

Curator Laura Joseph August 2016

The Weisman Art Museum
http://wam.umn.edu/

Hours & Admission

TUESDAY, THURSDAY, FRIDAY 10 AM – 5 PM
WEDNESDAY 10 AM – 8 PM
SATURDAY, SUNDAY 11 AM – 5 PM
CLOSED MONDAYS

The WAM Shop has special holiday shopping hours every December.

Admission is always FREE.

Closed on the following holidays: New Year’s Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve Day, and Christmas Day.

 

333 East River Road
Minneapolis, MN 55455
(612) 625-9494