Amid the noise of packed schedules, family plans, and worrying about the daily what’s next, Writ and Vision’s exhibition Filling in the Blanks, by Eduardo Alvarez and Victoria Schiodtz, leads us to recognize spaces impossible to find on Google, Instagram, or TikTok. Isn’t everything on Google? According to know-it-all Google, Americans spend an average of 6 hours on their phones beyond work time use, but if that’s true, what else do we devote a solid 6 hours to daily?
Alvarez states in his artist statement for “Vibrational Vortex-The Sounds of Silence” that we are obstructed from our inner voice because we are “bombarded by random information, sounds, and electromagnetic impulses that confuse us and affect our behavior.” What does silence even sound like, and how is the need for silence connected to behavior and choices? Of course Alavarez doesn’t claim to have the answers, but his fusion of found objects, mixed media, current events and literary deconstruction invite us to interrupt our practiced quick look and judgment and, instead, reflect and feel.
In “Flotsam”, a baby lies face down surrounded by debris and in “Jetsam” a child sobs next to her fallen mother, also surrounded by wreckage. Inside this uncomfortable visual space, Alvarez uses the meanings of flotsam and jetsam to propose the idea that whether something is intentionally thrown overboard or unanticipated remnants, flotsam and jetsam equally bring about debris. Maybe it does take seeing a baby laying face down to be willing to confront ourselves about the wreckage we don’t see because the next video popped up.
While Eduardo Alavarez presents the repercussions of turning our lives over to algorithms, Victoria Schiodtz encourages us to interrupt our noisy lives with a view to “the spaces that make up our environment, that exist between different moments and places in our lives.” In her series titled Bodyscapes, Schiodtz uses her body and photo embroidery. Photographed in a variety of poses, she says, “these empty spaces or shapes are filled with abstractions of landscapes of my native country” and cleverly positions memory as visual.
Finally, Alvarez’s “The Heart of the Matter” succinctly pushes us to acknowledge that maybe it’s been too long since we’ve tried to reconnect with anything that doesn’t require us to add an app to our phone. A red heart vulnerably sits on top of rusty metal. A closer look reveals that the heart is harpooned, but the tin it sits on is free from blood. Maybe the harpooned heart isn’t really injured after all? However, it only takes a second to see the trail of blood trickling from behind the layer of rusty metal. It is that bad, we just can’t see.
Eduardo Alvarez’s works commands time and self-reflection, and Victoria Schiodtz invites us to rethink the visual nature of memory. Filling in the Blanks persuades us to slow down, think for ourselves. More importantly, Alvarez and Schiodtz suggest we exchange swiping next and thinking later, for feeling now.
Filling in the Blanks, Writ and Vision, Provo, closing reception Friday, July 8
All images courtesy the author
Sandra Houghton is an artist and art educator in Utah County.