We are our Stuff: Seeing from Above

Exhibit Dates: 
Jan 14, 2011 - May 22, 2011
Location: 
DuPont II Gallery

In collaboration with Robert Prichard and working with a group of volunteers
and students from the community, Brewster utilizes donated and collected materials to create an installation that addresses the cyclical nature of energy and matter, from weather patterns to landfills to the “stuff”with which we fill our lives. In her dramatic, swirling installation, Brewster investigates the intellectual versus the phenomenological—information that emerges out of rational and organized thought as opposed to that gained through the senses and direct experience. She does this by including objects that represent the everyday and objects that signify the intellectual. However, objects take on multiple levels of meaning. For instance, the installation includes a large number of books, ranging from novels to encyclopedias. Books encompass both aspects of our minds, the gathering of knowledge and information as well as the metaphysical, the parts of us that are about dreams, aspirations, even the spiritual. Brewster sets all of these objects—clothing, books, tossed email correspondence—against a painted background that includes visually moving forms and floating clouds. Layering paint, papers, objects, and books, Brewster suggests the complex systems of the universe. Viewers stand in the midst of this microcosm contemplating their place in the world and the complexity of a life caught between mundane objects and the power and majesty of nature. Brewster sees her work as emerging out of the nineteenth-century American landscape tradition and the later Abstract Expressionist movement. She comments on this installation and the desire to link the microcosm with the macrocosm and derive meaning from our lives: “The screen [of our lives] becomes a mirror for all of this . . . the vastness and fluidity of consciousness . . . and the desire to create meaning from this storm."

—Susan J. Isaacs, PhD
Curator of Special Projects