Lesley Patterson-Marx and Emily Holt’s joint exhibition Hidden Worlds may technically be in the Vanderbilt student center, but for me, it was like ascending into a dimly lit attic complete with floorboards that creaked of the past. Patterson-Marx’s mixed media pieces take on a personal quality to the viewer. Peer inside a jar at a girl and boy on bicycles, the image bent by the glass. Who are they, and why are they smiling? It could be a photo taped into your grandmother’s jewelry box. Her paper quilts are adorned with silhouettes of family figures who might be my own. The piece of tulle housing a dead moth could have been killed by my brother in his phase of ripping off the legs of spiders. Along with the softness of her work is an eeriness so familiar that it could only come from the shared wick of memory–the stories known only among siblings or passed down through generations. There are missing pieces or bent facts, and every perception is skewed–but still frighteningly true.
Emily Holt’s pieces brought me a complementary but different feeling. While the former evokes the delicate nature of the past, Holt’s wood cut sculptures speak to its vivid obstinacy. Free-standing or wall-mounted, these dream-like tableaus are made up of carved wood that is layered, creating structure and dimension. When I looked down into this free standing piece Belly of the Beast (below), I felt like a child peering into a box of malevolent toys. Found objects are mounted here and there, and the carved edges have the delightful dual qualities of being jagged and smooth. I could easily imagine one of her month-themed pieces in my living room, next to my boyfriend’s print of the Creature from the Black Lagoon. I felt drawn to her work, as if I were edging back into my childhood, but a childhood that is warped and layered with yours as well.
Together, Patterson-Marx and Holt present a fantastic show. Think nostalgia tea with a hint of Flowers in the Attic. It’s only up until Friday, March 28, so get on over there, new Nashvillians! Parking is a mess so grab something to eat at a nearby sandwich shop with a lot and walk over. Vanderbilt Sarratt Gallery. Sarratt Student Center. 2301 Vanderbilt Place. Open 9am-9pm weekdays and 10-10 weekends.