C. Grimaldis Projects is pleased to present Sinuous, a solo presentation by Boston-based artist Tara Sellios. New photographs from the artist’s Testimony series accompany watercolor and ink drawings from yearlong project The Seven Woes: in total, twelve tableaux of organic relics in which life and death inhabit the same moment.
These two series primarily feature snake skeletons ringed by winged insects in flight. The exhibition’s title derives its origin from the Latin word sinus, meaning “a bend” having many lithe and supple turns. Sinuous describes a kind of cold-blooded undulation; an inhuman bending of the spine.
Presented like curios, six feverish sketches live under glass. Sellios’ drawings insinuate a writhing movement, acting as visualizations of the arrested motion in her photography. Somewhere between hallucinogenic field drawings or diaristic records of a vision, these highly personal objects are referents for scenes staged in the artist’s studio. Snake bones are broken, weathered in dirt and reassembled into elaborate curves. Brittle insects are rehydrated in water, their wings spread to dry. Sellios arranges these memento mori according to a personal logic: a desire to harness the literal matter of morbidity.
The rich chromogenic prints that document these still-life dioramas echo the light and shadow of 17th century Vanitas paintings, in which glorious half-decaying objects were depicted as reminders of the brevity of life and the inevitability of death. This Dutch tradition takes its name from the Latin noun meaning emptiness: a nod to early Christianity’s belief in the futility of earthly goods. Testimony and The Seven Woes take their titles from Biblical cues which reference miracles and foretellings. Here, elements of the natural world appear to possess a supernatural force— at once defying death and acting as a reminder of it. Locusts recall Old Testament plagues; snakes are theological symbols of hubristic power; moths are a destructive species. Sellios seduces us, fixating our gaze on a cycle that transcends worldly pursuits even as it is grounded in the soil: that decay begets fertilization which begets life.
Tara Sellios (b. 1987, Boston) received her BFA in photography with a minor in art history from the Art Institute of Boston in 2010. Recent solo exhibitions include Testimony at Blue Sky Gallery, Portland and Luxuria at Gallery Kayafas, Boston. She is a Massachusetts Cultural Council fellowship recipient and was named an emerging photographer to watch by Art New England magazine. Tara is represented by Gallery Kayafas. This will be her first exhibition in Baltimore.