Arts & Culture

‘Other People’s Things’ gives life to ordinary objects

Granoff exhibit showcases Erbacher, Erlanger, Grabner works, celebrates quotidian experiences

Staff Writer
Thursday, November 3, 2016

The Granoff Center for the Creative Arts’ Cohen Gallery opened its latest exhibition, “Other People’s Things,” Wednesday night. The exhibition features three artists: Sandra Erbacher, Olivia Erlanger and Michelle Grabner.

The trio’s work harmonizes in “Other People’s Things,” shedding new light on everyday objects and directing the viewer’s gaze toward daily — if not domestic — life. “‘Other People’s Things’ is an exhibition that examines the way in which contemporary artists engage in a critical discourse by denaturalizing the language of everyday objects,” wrote Eddie Villanueva, professor of visual arts and curator of the exhibit, in the event flyer.

Each artist in the exhibition uses different methods and media to give new meaning to seemingly mundane subjects. One of Erbacher’s works, “Home Office,” is a hanging rug-like tapestry of different monochrome rectangles of various shades of gray. Without directly representing any single object one would find in an office, Erbacher’s work is redolent of an office atmosphere, recalling the rectangular shape of a cubicle, the dull colors of bureaucratic decor and the texture of carpeted floors.

Erlanger’s work resembles a physical collage. Her “Rafts” are set on the floor and look like makeshift boxes filled with lost objects set in precise and poetic ways. She makes the everyday lost object seem precious, safeguarded by the “raft” she built. Her previous works have also included an array of material such as cast shea butter, urchin, silk, porcelain honeycombs, steel, tea, receipts, cut leather envelopes and wax. By working on objects so often dismissed as common or trash, she manages to showcase the vibrancy of things society deems vapid.

Grabner’s work pays particular attention to pattern. Her work consists of two “indexical-pattern paintings,” she said during a talk before the exhibition’s opening. Grabner began to focus on indexical painting when she graduated from graduate school.

“I was trying to find daycare for my children and fighting for time in the studio,” she said. She became increasingly interested in the concept of order and its artistic representation. Her subjects were crocheted blankets or paper towels. These everyday objects are associated with the realm of domesticity, and Grabner’s work reflects the regular pattern and daily routine symbolized by her subjects. “She has suggested that her work yields a state of boredom,” Villanueva wrote. As such, Grabner’s work showcases boredom and repetition as a natural part of daily life.

“I think it’s really beautiful,” said Wendy Cohen ’19. “She has these cool paintings that are made by filling in the holes with paint where blankets were stretched over the canvas.” Indeed, while Grabner’s work seems to vaunt boredom as a quality, it also surprises the viewer by showcasing domestic objects such as a crocheted blanket in unusual ways.