Holding the Center Still by Debra Weisberg

At Boston's Piano Craft Gallery

By: - Jan 14, 2022

The work of Debra Weisberg will be featured in a new exhibit, Holding the Center Still, at the Piano Craft Gallery in Boston from March 4 – March 27, 2022. The exhibit comprises collaged paper works and a large scale floor installation. In the opening and closing receptions Vermont choreographer, Paula Higa, will premier a short piece created in response to Weisberg’s work.

Weisberg is known for her large scale installations: (sub) Surface at the De Cordova and her 22 foot long installation at the Facebook Office in Kendall Square. Her iconography draws from a faded memory bank of images, such as root systems, lava flows -archetypal systems of growth, flow and movement- that are wrestled into an abstracted, affective, experiential state.

As a 2020 Denbo Fellow at Pyramid Atlantic Printmaking and Papermaking Center, Weisberg explored printmaking- primarily monoprinting and embossing. Deconstructed elements from prior sculptural installations, rope, netting and hot glue matrices were inked and run through the press to create a large repository of deeply embossed printed images. Upon returning home, these printed images were re-combined, layered with black hot glue and handmade paper, and drawn into with graphite and charcoal. The result is richly dense works on paper that reveal a tense relationship between collapse and renewal. Their materiality connects the haptic with the optic alluding to a sense of fragility and temporality, emphasizing the emotional aspects of paper as a translucent, fragile material with one that appears tough and enduring.

Prior to Covid, choreographer Paula Higa used Weisberg’s installation, Mermeros, as an inspiration for a student dance piece, Quantum Complications, performed and filmed at University of Vermont. During the first year of the pandemic, Weisberg and Higa exchanged weekly phone and email conversations. A broad range of topics were discussed including colorism in the US (Higa was born and raised in Brazil), the naturalist Alexander von Humboldt, and the works of choreographers Anna Halprin and Pina Bausch. Many conversations focused on paper, the dominant material in Weisberg’s work and its structural similarity to skin and internal connective tissue.

Higa was inspired when planning this dance by the writer and visual artist Deborah Barlow in referring to Weisberg’s work, "art that stretches our humanity, draws us in emotionally, enlivens our senses, pushes our vulnerability, and is more open-ended, asking questions rather than providing answers." These artists do not tie themselves to the observed but rather through the ineffability of the felt experience where the cognitive manifests itself through body awareness.