HOLDING THE CENTER STILL: REDUX
DEBRA WEISBERG (in collaboration with dancer/choreographer PAULA HIGA)
West Gallery: June 9 – July 15, 2023
Opening Reception: Friday, June 9, 6 – 8 PM
Special Dance Performances: Friday, June 9, at 7 PM & Saturday, July 15 at 5 PM
Virtual Artist Talk: Wednesday, July 5, 6:30 PM
- Debra Weisberg
"The work of Debra Weisberg will be featured in a new exhibit, Holding the Center Still Redux. The exhibit comprises collaged paper works and a large scale floor installation. In the opening and closing receptions Brazilian choreographer, Paula Higa, will perform a short piece created in response to Weisberg’s work on June 9 at 7 pm and July 15 at 5 pm.
Weisberg's richly dense body of work on paper touches into the profound relationship between collapse and renewal. Their materiality connects touch/hapticity with the visual/optical. The work exposes the highly vulnerable nature of paper as a transparent and fragile medium that is also surprisingly enduring and sturdy."
"Weisberg is known for her large scale installations: (sub) Surface at the De Cordova and her 22 foot long installation at the Facebook Office in Kendall Square. Her iconography draws from a faded memory bank of images, such as root systems, lava flows -archetypal systems of growth, flow and movement- that are wrestled into an abstracted, affective, experiential state.
As a 2020 Denbo Fellow at Pyramid Atlantic Printmaking and Papermaking Center, Weisberg explored printmaking- primarily monoprinting and embossing. Deconstructed elements from prior sculptural installations, rope, netting and hot glue matrices were inked and run through the press to create a large repository of deeply embossed printed images. Upon returning home, these printed images were re-combined, layered with black hot glue and handmade paper, and drawn into with graphite and charcoal. The result is richly dense works on paper that reveal a tense relationship between collapse and renewal. Their materiality connects the haptic with the optic alluding to a sense of fragility and temporality, emphasizing the emotional aspects of paper as a translucent, fragile material with one that appears tough and enduring.
Prior to Covid, choreographer Paula Higa used Weisberg’s Lesley Univesity's installation, Mermeros, as an inspiration for a student dance piece, Quantum Complications, performed and filmed at University of Vermont. During the first year of the pandemic, Weisberg and Higa exchanged weekly phone and email conversations. A broad range of topics were discussed including colorism in the US (Higa was born and raised in Brazil), the naturalist Alexander von Humboldt, and the works of choreographers Anna Halprin and Pina Bausch. Many conversations focused on paper, the dominant material in Weisberg’s work and its structural similarity to skin and internal connective tissue.
Higa was inspired when planning this dance by the writer and visual artist Deborah Barlow in referring to Weisberg’s work, "art that stretches our humanity, draws us in emotionally, enlivens our senses, pushes our vulnerability, and is more open-ended, asking questions rather than providing answers." These artists do not tie themselves to the observed but rather through the ineffability of the felt experience where the cognitive manifests itself through body awareness."
Debra Weisberg is active nationally and internationally. She has exhibited at the Paper Biennial in the Netherlands; Art in General and East Hampton Center for Contemporary Art, New York; and in the Boston area, the Art Complex Museum, Duxbury; Danforth Art Museum; DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum; Gallery Kayafas; Mills Gallery, Boston Center for the Arts; Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University; Dedee Shattuck Gallery; VanDernoot Gallery @ Lesley University; Trident Gallery; Catamount Arts.
Weisberg was a recipient of the Denbo Fellowship at Pyramid Atlantic Art Center in Hyattsvile, Maryland in 2020 where she pursued her exploration of paper and embossed monoprints. Facebook Boston commissioned Weisberg to create a 22-foot long tape installation for its corporate office in Cambridge (2017). Weisberg has twice attended the MacDowell Colony and was awarded an art residency in Can Serrat, outside of Barcelona, in June 2009. In 2008 she was a Massachusetts Cultural Council fellowship winner in drawing.Weisberg was a Somerville Arts Lottery winner in 2001, 2004, 2008, and 2015. Her forty-foot high installation at the DeCordova entitled (Sub) Surface won an award for best museum installation (2003) from the Boston Art Critics Association. Her individual works have entered numerous collections including the Sonesta Hotel and General Hardware Manufacturing Company in New York.
As part of her studio practice, the artist collaborates regularly with students on large-scale, site-specific dimensional drawing installations using predominantly tape. These include Somatic (e) SCAPES at Milton Academy, 2015 (144 x 244 x 24 inches) and Swoop 2013 (144 x 480 x 36 inches) at Wheaton College.
In addition to teaching at Boston College and Massachusetts College of Art and Design Graduate program, Weisberg is an energetic invited lecturer. Her talk, “Material Drawing: Exploration and Connectivity,” was presented at MIT’s School of Architecture and Planning (2014) and Harvard’s Graduate School of Design (2018). This paper which examined the material of making, preservation of the senses and its educational implications in the digital age was also presented at University College, London (2014). An iteration of this talk was given at the Broad Institute (2018), a biomedical and genomic research center located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She also holds creativity-making workshops in corporate settings and was a creativity consultant at the Meditech Corporation for seven years.