Now that emojis have us communicating in hieroglyphics again, there’s a timely exhibition at the Grand Gallery in downtown Frankfort that looks at the use of simple symbols to express complex ideas. “Ideogram with haiku — the alchemy of things — a series” by the multidisciplinary artist Remi (Tara Remington) consists of 10 pairs of plaster and wax sculptural panels, each containing a symbol, ranging from the basis marks that were our first expression of art and written language, through modern graphics.
Each pair is accompanied by a haiku, a Japanese poetry form that uses only a few syllables to express an image or idea. The exhibition includes a handmade book on a central podium, in which visitors are encouraged to compose their own haiku in response to viewing the show.
The purpose of the exhibition, Remi explains, is to “illustrate the way we perceive continuity, an unbroken essential thread of thought throughout history.” While visually simple in form, the issues she addresses in her art are far more complicated.
“I have created panels, each displaying one symbol representing current issues, such as racism, othering and equality, women’s rights, climate change, and also included some existential thought symbols,” Remi said. “I hope to strip down the complexities of our social issues and juxtapose ideas to guide the viewer through a thought provoking experience resulting in writing their own haiku for the exhibit, in an ongoing community haiku journal.”
The stakes, she tells us, are high — “We are at a fulcrum in history, we must choose new pathways to solve our antiqued ways or continue on the path of extinction.”
Currently based in Urbana, Illinois, Remi was educated at the Ringling School of Art in Sarasota, Florida, and at the Portfolio Center in Atlanta. Her artistic practice includes public art, installation, printmaking, drawing, photography and sculpture, and she has exhibited and been an artist-in-residence throughout the U.S., including the Josephine Sculpture Park in Frankfort.
Grand Gallery curator Larry W. Moore is excited to present this show at last.
“I met Remi over two years ago when she was an artist-in-residence at Josephine and was giving a lecture on her work at the Grand Theater,” Larry said. “I immediately was taken with her use of traditional hobo signs that arose during a previous period of economic distress, the Great Depression, and knew this could be a thought-provoking show for our gallery.
“Then, COVID intervened and the gallery was closed for over a year, during which time Remi and I kept in touch and discussed many possible concepts for her show. With her work focused more than ever on our need to live sustainably and equitably in the face of climate change and the pandemic and the many other challenges confronting us, the resulting body of work is richer and deeper than I ever envisioned. This show is simultaneously the simplest, visually, and the most complex, imaginatively, that we have mounted.”
The Grand Gallery is located on the second floor of the Grand Theater at 308 St. Clair in downtown Frankfort. This exhibition continues through the end of May and may be viewed by appointment by contacting the Grand Theater box office at 502-352-7469 or by the reservation link available from the gallery tab on the theater website, www.thegrandky.com.