The provocative and haunting images exhibited in “Linda Bond: Pause—Gunpowder and Graphite Drawings 2004-2008,” currently installed at the Thompson Gallery on The Cambridge School of Weston (CSW) campus, confront viewers with the complexities of America’s War on Terrorism without blatantly taking sides. The show, which opens on September 18 and runs through November 6, 2008, also offers an accompanying exhibition catalog with compelling essays by Joseph Carroll, director, Carroll and Sons and The Boston Drawing Project, and Todd Bartel, director of the Thompson Gallery.
With exquisite discrimination and determination, Bond explores the complex story of the War on Terrorism by considering many sides of the war and the aftermath of our actions following the attacks of September 11th.
The stunning images, ranging from medium sized to monumental drawings, of dead and injured civilians from the middle east, representations of weapons, key political players including President Bush and various cabinet members, portraits of the first American casualties of the War, as well as veiled Iraqis whose country we continue to occupy, are shown along with images of peacemakers and portraits of individuals directly impacted by the war.
"Along with images of smoke clouds from smoldering oil fields and bombed cities, I have been rendering the human casualties of the war—anonymous, veiled, alive and lifeless," said Bond.
Over the past seven years, Bond’s source material has been today’s printed news, namely black and white reproductions of images from the New York Times and other sources. In addition to Bond’s uncanny facility, skill and approach to drawing, her keen eye for selecting powerful imagery impacts the work. Often, filling in the blanks of the low-resolution newspaper photographs with more detailed information, Bond’s images in black and white command attention with their richness and power, while at the same time tap into our capacity to empathize.
The compassion expressed in the apparent serene emotional states of these portraits seems quite distant from the torment, anguish, longing and extreme loss that are also expressed. Strangely enough, despite the horrors and realities of war that are visible in Bond’s series, these images are not at all gruesome to behold. "This tugging of one emotional state against others is what is so arresting about the work," said Bartel.
Bond expresses great care towards her subjects, but it is her material selection that provides other clues to her overall portrait of our times. Bond’s palette consists of graphite, the more traditional choice for artists, in conjunction with the more unconventional gunpowder. She conceptually employs a medium, which is symbolically and physically charged as a way of examining the combustible nature of current political affairs. The artist's apparent neutral stance towards her subject matter, when paired with this medium, is unsettling, transporting the viewer into uncomfortable territory.
And in doing so, this show raises many questions, which is the point of the exhibition. As witnesses to this art, we are asked to answer the underlying questions why we choose to use materials and tools of force, and under what conditions they are, or are not, justified. To ponder these questions, this exhibit requires us to pause.
For more information on the exhibition and scheduled hours, contact Todd Bartel, gallery director, at 781-398-8316 or at: email@example.com