Preview: Mirror Box | Strangers Collective

Kyle Farrell, Alex Gill and Jordan Eddy, co-directors of Strangers Collective and the No Land art space, curate this exhibition of emerging artists and writers at form & concept. The show represents a network of early career creatives, starting 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.

“The central mission of Strangers Collective has always been to pry open wall space for emerging artists in Santa Fe’s highly competitive market,” says Farrell. “Mirror Box is a culmination of our efforts.” Strangers Collective’s past pop-up group exhibitions, spanning summer 2014 through winter 2017, appeared in diverse venues including ART.i.factory Gallery, Santa Fe Community Gallery and Center for Contemporary Arts. “In spring of 2017, we founded No Land, which is a small space on the Plaza where we curate solo exhibitions for emerging artists,” says Strangers co-director Jordan Eddy. “We found ourselves in a solid place to make another big, definitive curatorial statement, but needed a bigger venue to do it.” form & concept, where Eddy works as marketing manager by day, offered up its sprawling top floor galleries for the show.

Kevin Bond Photography- Mirror Box Exhibition- Strangers Collective- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico
Kevin Bond, Reminiscences Safelight, photo transfer on safelight, 16.5 x 11.5 x 9 in., 2016.

“I was excited to set the stage for this Strangers show, because I’ve seen the project expand and contract to fit so many spaces and compelling stories,” says form & concept Gallery Director Frank Rose. “form & concept often shows emerging artists, so it made perfect sense to align our efforts and strengthen the web.” Farrell, Eddy and Gill have been working on the show for over ten months, conducting in-person studio visits in Santa Fe, Albuquerque and Denver, and virtual check-ins with artists in Arizona, California, Oregon, New York, Japan and South Korea. “The collective is New Mexico-based, but our geographic range has grown as people move around to other art communities across the country,” says Gill. “Reuniting everyone for this exhibition showed us that there are still remarkably strong links between the concepts the artists are exploring.”

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.

Julie Slattery Sculpture- Mirror Box Exhibition- Strangers Collective- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico
Julie Slattery, Bird Skull series, bronze, 5 x 2.5 x3 in. (large), 3.5 x 2 x 2 in. (small), 2018.

“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.

“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.

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Alicia Piller Artwork- Mirror Box Exhibition- Strangers Collective- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico
Alicia Piller, Heart Flow, mixed media, 82 x 12 x 2.5 in., 2015.

Art

Kevin Bond, Derek Chan, Kyle Farrell, Alex Gill, Erin Gould, Julia Haywood, Chaz John, Kat Kinnick, Shannon Latham, Ariana Lombardi, Emily Mason, Nate Masse, Drew MC, David O’Brien, Josh Palmeri, Sarah Palmeri, Alicia Piller, Julie Slattery, Stephanie Thompson, Dion Valdez, Emmaly Wiederholt, Ona Yopack

Zines

Liz Brindley, Caryn Crimmel, Melissa Dow, Jordan Eddy, Juro Gagne, Jess Haring, Katie Johnson, Israel Francisco Haros Lopez, Amanda Malloy & David McCarty, Erin Mickelson, Erica Nguyen, Yvette Serrano, Bucket Siler, Stephanie Thompson, Charlotte Thurman, Emmaly Wiederholt, Rachelle Woods, Michael Wilson

Derek Chan Artwork- Mirror Box Exhibition- Strangers Collective- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico
Derek Chan, Mercury in Retrograde, acrylic, silver leaf and collage on panel, 72 x 48 in., 2013. Photo by Jose Rivera.