Press Release: Long Afternoon

From Minnesota Artists Exhibition Program


Posted on May 02, 2003

For Immediate Release: May 5, 2003

Long Afternoon May 23 – July 13, 2003 The Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Minneapolis— The Minneapolis Institute of Arts and the Minnesota Artists Exhibition Program (MAEP) present new work by Celeste Nelms and Carolyn Swiszcz in “Long Afternoon,” an exhibition of photographs and mixed media paintings. Opening May 23, the exhibition pays homage to objects created and treasured, only to be cast off or forgotten. It also reveals a theme both artists share: an uncommon affection for objects past their prime.

For “Long Afternoon” Celeste Nelms has taken a series of photographs depicting herself in natural settings while interacting with objects that were once of value to others. Nelms finds the objects she uses at thrift stores, free piles, and yard sales. She also asks people she knows to donate objects they once cherished, but now neglect. Nelms interviews the owners of these objects and records their recollections, thus creating “talking frames” that, when activated, play audio excerpts of the interviews. Although Nelms selects the objects and the natural environment for her images, she allows the camera to catch what it may. Her postures, gestures, and expressions shift, for example, from her identity as beautiful woman to innocent child to tired old man. A moment of serendipity may result: in one image in a fluttering butterfly lands on Nelms’s face, obscuring her nose and mouth; in another, the arms of the artist flutter with joy along with the butterfly’s wings.

Known for her paintings of delapidated architecture, Carolyn Swiszcz (pronounced Swiz) breaths new life into images of street kitsch, strip malls, run-down buildings, and fast food restaurants. Her paintings of phone booths or seagulls pecking at fast food trash are not nostalgic or morose; rather, they take delight in the neglected landscape. Swiszcz’s hometown of New Bedford, Massachusetts, once one of the nation’s richest towns, fell into decline along with the whaling and textile industries, and now serves as the backdrop for many of her images. Through a sequence of panoramic works, Swiszcz examines the childhood landscape that she once tried to ignore, such as an early twentieth-century tenement building and a faux Chinese ornamental arch. Ranging from snapshot-sized paintings of store window displays to oversized images of parking lots and strip malls, Swiszcz’s artwork pays tribute to the place that she says “really gets to her.”

Special events for “Long Afternoon” include an opening reception on Thursday, May 22 from 7 to 9 p.m., and an artist-led tour on May 29 at 7 p.m. Additionally, the MAEP and the Visual Art Critics Union of Minnesota (VACUM) will be offering a “Critics Trialogue” on Sunday, July 13, at 2 p.m., featuring painter and art critic David Lefkowitz. The Trialogue is designed to bring together critics, artists, and the public to explore the creative possibilities of criticism. All events are free and open to the public.

“Long Afternoon” is presented by the Minnesota Artists Exhibition Program, which is made possible by generous support from Jerome Foundation. Celeste Nelms’s work is made possible, in part, by a residency at the Blacklock Nature Sanctuary, a 2002 Artists Fellowship from Jerome Foundation, and a Career Opportunity Grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. Carolyn Swiszcz’s work is made possible, in part, by a Bush Foundation fellowship and additional support from ArtWorks at Dover Street in New Bedford, Massachusetts.