Pine Manor College
400 Heath Street
Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts
Through January 27
“Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons: Works on Paper” is an intimate exhibition at Hess Gallery that showcases the title artist’s feelings concerning identity and displacement.
Born in 1959 in the Matanzas province of Cuba, Maria Magdalena Campos-
Pons, who is also of Nigerian descent, has lived as a New Englander for almost 20 years now. As an artist, she has become a significant contributor to the international dialogue concerning the African Diaspora, which is largely the result of slave trading in previous centuries.
Campos-Pons’ Polaroids, videos and installations have been featured in many
prominent exhibitions both domestically and abroad. In 1998, she created
a site-specific video installation for the Museum of Modern Art in New York
called “Spoken Softly with Mama” (1998). In 2001, she was part of the 49th
Venice Biennale. And in 2007, Campos-Pons had a mid-career retrospective
titled “Everything is Separated,” which was organized by the Indianapolis
Museum of Art. She currently teaches at The School of the Museum of Fine
Arts, Boston, and is the co-founder of GASP Arts in Brookline, which promotes the work of emerging artists.
The Hess Gallery exhibit continues Campos-Pons’ engaging dialogue of the
African Diaspora. The subject of these particular works on paper addresses her experience of adapting to life in New England. Says Campos-Pons in her show statement: “I had found it rather challenging to express my understanding of the geography, topography and the feeling of the site of my adopted home; living in New England for almost 20 years leaves me with this double construction of belonging and longing.”
With her long history of experimenting in a wide variety of media, the Hess
exhibition nicely displays Campos-Pons ability to blend different media on
paper in a way that appears seamless and natural. “Clairvoyant of Autumn”
(2009), for example, is a collage with Polaroid photo, ink, gouache, watercolor
and watercolor pencil on archival paper. And, yet, the particular elements that
make up the work seem incidental in the face of the emotions that resonate
from the piece. It is her sense of color and composition that are far more
interesting to contemplate than the tools used create the work.
Also transfixing is the work “Watching From the Other Side” (2009), with its
lone figure that sits at the top left corner of the work, forlornly staring out
at a blue body of water. Dark strands run through the water, which could be
taken as seaweed, but also resemble a tangle of