Melted wax pools over an antique wedding dress, a row of white buttons breaking the translucent surface like a delicate, skeletal spinal cord.
A childhood portrait — printed on the ends of a shiny, pink ribbon — is “de-weaved” to silky, free-flowing thread.
The strap of a little girl’s shoe sits protected like a rare biological specimen in a small yellow block of paraffin and beeswax.
These disparate objects, linked by the aura of the absent human body, are the work of Andrea Green, who will receive a master’s degree from the School of Art. Over the past two years, Green has created a ghostly yet powerful body of work that frequently combines found items and images with elements of both photography and sculpture.
“Andrea tends to ignore media as a central focus,” says Richard Krueger, assistant professor of photography. “She’s much more interested in exploring conceptually through the production of physical objects, the relationship between the physical and the ephemeral.”
“I’ve been working primarily with clothing, accessories — things that adorn or, in some fashion, re-create the body,” Green explains, as a way of addressing “the difficulty of preserving memory.”
“While perceptions change and details fade from the mind, seemingly prosaic items such as shoes, shirts and dresses continue to tell stories through the inevitable record of scuffs and stains,” she says.”They’re fragments of a life lived, which the viewer fills in with their own associations.”
Born and raised in St. Louis, Green completed her undergraduate work at the Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia before returning home for graduate school. Her career at the University was notable both for the breadth of her studio work and for more administrative roles.
|School of Art|
In addition to working at the Des Lee Gallery downtown, Green served as a graduate teaching assistant in the School of Art’s summer photography studio in Santa Reparata, Italy, and assisted Krueger with a pair of undertakings: [View[Point, a community documentary project involving some 70 middle-school students from south St. Louis; and Phantasmagoria, a major exhibition tracing the history of technological representation, from magic lanterns to video installations. (Phantasmagoria will debut in January at The Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, Ohio.)
“I couldn’t have asked for better experiences,” says Green, who, after Commencement, hopes to either teach at a college or pursue a career in arts administration. “I learned a great deal from those projects in regards to grant funding, communications and other logistical necessities.”
In the studio, Green initially leaned toward traditional photography — mainly still lifes and self-portraits — but soon began incorporating a more sculptural physicality and presence.
One early series, Constructed Past, features color images, often addressing societal standards of beauty or adulthood, printed on the backs of open, wall-mounted boxes. Draped over the fronts are thin silk scrims bearing black-and-white photos of Green’s own family: domestic scenes, herself and her mother as children. The effect, Green explains, is like “looking through the past to get to the present.”
Another series, inspired by formal portraits, features found snapshots embedded within roughly cast beeswax ovals. In some, the image floats just beneath the surface, the details blurred by layers of wax; in others, the wax skin is pealed or gouged away, revealing the image like a wound.
“All my work has a sense of loss to it,” Green muses. “Gary Hill (a recent visiting artist) wasn’t in my studio for two minutes before asking, ‘Did something bad happen to you as a child?’
“I had a good childhood!” she exclaims, laughing.
Green’s recent works, such as the aforementioned Wedding Dress and a similarly wax-embedded cotton pillow, are more purely sculptural and cast wider nets of association. Pale and human-scaled, they variously recall figures, waves and plumes of smoke rising from candles, as well as the processes of embalming or mummification.
“I like the ancient yet ephemeral quality of wax,” Green explains. “It could melt, it could flake, it could break, it could crack. Like memory, it seems permanent but is forever, subtly changing.”
And while photography itself may, at least temporarily, have receded from these objects, its influence can still be felt in Green’s artistic method.
“Now I’m just doing in wax what photographs do on paper,” she concludes. “Capturing a moment, preserving or encapsulating a fragment in time.”