It needs to be quiet for the human cocoons to have the time to develop properly. The atmosphere must be warm and supportive. As these pupas become more mature they gain color and move closer to the bassinet, where they’ll each get time to adjust to being unwrapped and exposed, yet still nurtured. For all living creatures there’s magic in the process of birth.
– Joan Baldwin: Cocoons
In a recent conversation with Joan Baldwin, I talked with her about the installation Cocoons, currently in the Center Gallery, a departure from the paintings for which she is known. Below are some thoughts from our observation of the installation.
She sees everything as connected, as part of nature. She makes a leap with this installation by “cross pollinating” the idea of human birth and that of a cocoon, fusing two species. This is a place of quiet, and like the process of human birth, the “babies” here need to adjust to being in the world.
The installation creates an atmosphere of safety and nurturing, of stillness; a time she imagines that the cocoons need to develop, a magical and perhaps a sacred space. The installation is designed sequentially so that as the eye travels towards the bassinet, reading the space, the colors becoming brighter and the shapes larger. They are beautiful and repelling at the same time.
The ideas expressed here developed as the she worked on the piece; the objects she collected became the impetus for the work and this continued until the installation itself was created.
There are of course many connotations invoked here and the artist wants it to be open-ended. One could see a sleeping infant or a dead baby. It is strange to see babies hung upside down and wrapped. However as with all works of art, the viewer has the opportunity to project oneself on to the work and to suspend disbelief if only for a moment.
The exhibit runs through June 1 with a closing reception from 3-5 p.m.
Images: Joan Baldwin, Cocoons, installation view and detail, 2014.