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Elegance in the Ordinary

Tilly Woodward at Olson-Larsen

April 12 - June 1, 2013

 

NEST SPOON Oil on archival mat board 11 x 9

Review by Alissa Sheldon

April 29, 2013

April 12, Spring Gallery Night in Valley Junction, found another well-hosted opening at Olson-Larsen Galleries.  The Snacks were playing, the wine was pouring, and the crudités were abundant.  The show, featuring new work from Scott Charles Ross, Sarah Grant, and Tilly Woodward was clearly a success.  As the crowd wandered through the pleasantly meandering gallery, a quiet bottleneck began to form at the first curve.  Here was the work of Tilly Woodward, and it was stopping people in their tracks.

There is something quietly meditative about the work of Woodward.  She takes subjects that the typical viewer may be inclined to dismiss and makes them treasured icons of simpler times - times free of multitasking, text messaging, and racing from one don’t-miss activity to the next.  Everyday subjects – a fish, a spoon, a bird’s nest – are taken out of the hustle and bustle of context and placed elegantly against a vast black field.  In doing so, Woodward calms the eye and gives the viewer an opportunity to focus on the intricacy of each item.  It is easy to fall into a peaceful contemplation of what our eyes and minds often take for granted.

 

EGGS X2, RUBBER BAND BALL Oil on archival mat board 11 x 9

Woodward cites the Northern Renaissance as an influence, and indeed her treatment of a baseball or a cicada exudes the same reverence as portraits of kings and queens did centuries ago.  The mundane is elevated to nobility.  Of course, Woodward’s use of oil aids in this effect, and she is incredibly adept with the medium.

The petite scale of her work adds to this feeling as well.  That the subjects themselves occupy such a small space gives the impression of gazing at a treasure inside a jewel box, and viewers may be surprised to find themselves seriously considering the symbolic relation of a rubber band ball to an egg.

Whether it is Woodward’s intent or not, perhaps the world needs more of these opportunities to pause, reflect, and just plain breathe.  For the gift of that moment, the crowd at Olson-Larsen thanks her.