Jess Rees

Stella's World

Exhibited at STELLA

Entering Stella's World, one is first hit on the nose. While ascending the stairs, before getting to the landing outside the door, a dustiness comes. Mothballs. When the door is opened you enter into a small hall, passing a barely functioning bathroom, a closet too full to shut, a kitchen with tables and counters disappeared under once useful objects that cover them. A right turn puts you into a musty dining room, where a chandelier illuminates and nearly graces the top of the pile of bric-a-brac on the table it hangs over. Another turn and you enter a sitting room, then a bedroom, then a living room -- mounded from the floor to the ceiling, just as high as an elderly woman could reach.

A little clearing exists that leads you through piles of stuff, a canyon path through the mountains of shoes, magazines, cookbooks, and handbags. Memories.
Dry cleaning, umbrellas, photo albums, and quilts. Memories.
Lace table cloths, expired medicine, winter coats, and empty cosmetic bottles. Memories.
Decades old business cards, crayons, blank notepads and shrunk wrapped door mats. Memories.
Letters, vacuums, hat boxes and sewing pins. Memories.
All mixed together into strange but perhaps familiar ways.

Stella lived in this apartment until the end of her life. Leaving no direct descendants, her legacy was her home. She collected objects that presumably were important to her, but to others might seem burdensome. Her possessions took over her ability to freely move about the place she lived.
When she choose to go outside, whether carrying it in her mind or not, this physical part of the way she lived must have been left behind - shadows concealed behind the closed door. What was left behind for the artist to discover about her person was only through the possessions she kept.

I collected all of the shiny, metallic and mirrored objects from Stella's World. After cleaning and polishing each of them, they were assembled together in a frame, objects overlapping, densely interwoven, and pressing against one another. The result is a mirror large enough to reflect a full person. It is a simultaneous reflection of Stella - a portrait through her objects - and a reflection of the looker themselves. Stella's shadows become a mirror that we can see ourselves through.
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