form & concept and Strangers Collective occupy far-flung domains in Santa Fe’s art community. The former is a nearly 10,000-square-foot gallery in the city’s Railyard District, the latter is an emerging arts group that operates the three-room experimental art space No Land on the Santa Fe Plaza. From opposite ends of the scene, these two organizations have worked in complementary ways to elevate local, emerging artists.
Their paths intersect this winter with the debut of Mirror Box, an exhibition of artists and writers curated by Strangers Collective’s co-directors Alex Gill, Kyle Farrell and Jordan Eddy, and hosted by form & concept. The show engages a network of early career creatives, anchored in Santa Fe and spiraling across the nation. Its curatorial throughline presents a radical method for reflecting on place and identity through art objects. Mirror Box opens at form & concept on Friday, February 23 from 5 to 8 pm, with a curator and artist talk on March 17 and a closing performance titled “Don’t You Want to Dance?” by Emmaly Wiederholt on April 14.
The term “mirror box” originates in the medical field: Vilayanur S. Ramachandran invented the box with two back-to-back mirrors in the center to help amputees manage phantom limb pain. The patient places the “good” limb into one side, and the “residual” limb into the other, making mirrored movements that can trick the brain into believing that it’s moving the phantom limb. “It’s a tribute to the incredible power of grey matter,” says Eddy. “If our minds are capable of conjuring a nervous system from thin air, can we link up with people, places or things in the same visceral but invisible way?” The curatorial team realized that art, like the mirror box, can act as a conduit for this type of transcendent—but also highly tangible—experience.
“As we turned over the idea of a ‘mirror box’ in conversation, its meaning evolved to represent a sort of theoretical art object,” says Farrell. “If you imagine a cube made from mirrors floating in a landscape, it reflects you and your surroundings across six different planes. By peering into it, you begin view identity and place in novel ways.” The show’s participants interact with the world in a similar fashion, reflecting, filtering and distorting their varied contexts to create visions of the world that are requisitely imbued with their own experiences.
Photographer Emily Mason makes images of her surroundings, collages them onto sculptural props, and photographs the finished assemblages to create images that flicker between dimensionality and abstraction. Painter Nate Masse creates layered figurative compositions that compress visual details from multiple moments into a single, sensuous image. Sculptor Julie Slattery shapes talismanic objects—in this case, enormous bird skulls—that become emotional reliquaries for specific events in her life.
“The artworks and zines are mapping out this ‘complete picture’ of an experience,” says Gill. “We’re asserting that fully realized artistic expression can communicate something truer than, say, a hasty smartphone snapshot of a particular person or place.” In an increasingly polarized world, it’s a radical act of empathy to dive through the looking glass.
Kevin Bond, Derek Chan, Kyle Farrell, Alex Gill, Erin Gould, Julia Haywood, Kat Kinnick, Shannon Latham, Emily Mason, Nate Masse, Drew MC, David O’Brien, Sarah Palmeri, Alicia Piller, Julie Slattery, Stephanie Thompson, Dion Valdez, Emmaly Wiederholt, Ona Yopack
Caryn Crimmel, Melissa Dow, Jordan Eddy, Juro Gagne, Jess Haring, Katie Johnson, Shannon Latham, Israel Francisco Haros Lopez, Erica Nguyen, Yvette Serrano, Bucket Siler, Stephanie Thompson, Charlotte Thurman, Emmaly Wiederholt, Rachelle Woods, Michael Wilson, Liz Brindley