Barriers and Enclosures

Curator: Eileen Doktorski

October 11—November 16, 1996

“Images of a barrier or an enclosures are often used to describe the unseen. We invoke invisible psychological barriers using catch phrases and clichés in everyday speech and songs. We talk about phobias as “a wall of fear,” our immediate surrounding area as “personal space” and recognition of sexual orientation as “coming out of the closet.” Gender, racial, and age barriers have been described derogatorily as “over the hill” and “the wrong side of the tracks” or as economically restrictive by “the glass ceiling.” These expressions give intangible boundaries impact by identifying them in physically concrete terms.

Barriers and enclosures, being rich in symbolic meaning, are manifest in the work of visual artists. They signify contentment and safety, defense and concealment, and isolation relating to social conditions and personal experience. Some of the artists in this exhibition use images of a cave, a house, a room, and even an encased car to symbolically represent private space.  Boxes, cages, and skeletal armor evoke both the restricting or protecting exterior–and that which is enclosed by it. Netting and partitions are used to create screen and seclude, creating mystery. Masks and fans shield facial expression while exposing the individual’s fantasy and sense of invention.

These works urge us to question what devices we employ to screen or reveal ourselves to others and ourselves. They remind us of the inherent need to create one’s own sanctuary.”

—Eileen Doktorski, Curator