The QCC Art Gallery of the City University of New York

Veiled Still Lifes by Lynn Stern
Veiled Still Lifes
Lynn Stern
December 15th - January 26th, 2007
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Torn by conflict between perception and truth, Lynn Stern's work searches for catharsis and seeks to project that catharsis onto the viewer. We stand between illusion - where safety lies - and truth, which alone can provide understanding and possibility of change and enlightenment. As we seek meaning in the relationships in Stern's Veiled Still Lifes, it is the perception of light that conveys this truth to us.

Stern's organic, interconnected forms achieve unity through the classical elements of balance, rhythm, and harmony. These forms convey a sense of fluctuating between different layers - the ostensible reality of the objects themselves and the illusion of the veil - as if moving between the surfaces of a topographical map and a flat one.

As in all of Stern's work, the space in these images is considered an active element, and forms are reduced to their basic, essential geometries. The manner in which Stern's forms interact reflects the essence of what she is experiencing - who she is and how she thinks.

For Stern, 'veiling' is used as an eschatological metaphor: it provides a tenuous security while transporting the spirit to a safe realm. This veil destroys the equilibrium between object and artist; it constitutes an impediment that must be removed in order to achieve integration, unity and immortality.

Stern's veiled compositions constitute figurative pictorial thinking. Both ambiguous and illuminating, they seem to suggest self-completion as well as a destruction of the status quo. In these images the vases exist as mundane objects, but as such they convey no truth. Rather, they are 'real' only as abstractions - projections of the artist's based on her feelings, memories, associations, and spiritual impulses. The viewer sees the object's physical existence, but only perceives their true reality - their meaning - by an act of empathy which enables him to enter the artist's perception and her her experience. It is the radiant, almost magical aura of the images that holds the viewer and communicates a sense of union with the artist, a sharing that is essentially a mystical experience.

It is not easy to see beyond the deceptive obviousness of Stern's objects and understand her true iconography. One reason for this is the mystical nature of her imagery. The artist asks us to make a quantum leap, to cast aside our assumptions and preconceptions in order to move beyond the darkness to the light - to an Unveiling.

Certainty is followed by skepticism, and in that shift lies a diminishment. As Stern writes in describing the development of her Unveilings series of 1985: "What began as dialogues in light had become metaphors for vulnerability." Stern's Veiled Still Lifes suggest a retracing of the path back to wholeness, a journey that involves the artist's vulnerability in exposing her inner self and the viewer's vulnerability in giving up a part of his identity in order to partake of hers. 'Veiling' is a necessary mask on this journey, a mask that will be lifted at the conclusion of life - the Unveiling. The moment of death is also the moment of truth, unity, and enlightenment - the mystical concept of Rukha. This Unveiling is our final mourning ritual.

Faustino Quintanilla Curator