Lakewood Cultural Center is pleased to present “Unpacking the Shadow,” a collaborative group exhibition from January 3 – 31, with an opening Thursday, January 12, from 5-7 PM. The exhibit explores the idea of how women rediscover, explore, and reintegrate important aspects of themselves that throughout their lives have been carefully removed and “hidden away.” More than 50 miniature pieces—no larger than 3 inches cubed and accompanied by mini-essays—were selected from submissions by women from all walks of life and from around the world. The project was conceived and compiled by sculptor Lorri Acott, who in turn was inspired by an essay by Robert Bly, “The Long Bag We Drag Behind Us.” Acott called for small expressions of intimate aspects each participant would like to rediscover in her own life, resulting in works as diverse as sculpture, found objects, photography, painting, and mixed media.
When Acott invited her friends to explore this concept with her, she already had created a figure pulling “a long bag,” called Me and My Shadow. That sculpture, a 15-inch bronze/textile piece, stands as the exhibit’s sentinel, a visual representation of Bly’s message. He wrote, “We spend our life until we’re twenty deciding what parts of ourself to put into the bag, and we spend the rest of our lives trying to get them out again.” Later in the piece, he asked, “But why would we give away, or put into the bag, so much of ourselves? Why would we do it so young? And if we have put away so many of our angers, spontaneities, hungers, enthusiasms, our rowdy and unattractive parts, then how can we live? What holds us together?”
“Unpacking the Shadow” attempts to answer these questions. “It’s been an honor to witness and collect the precious moments represented by women from the United States, Japan, Belgium, Argentina, South Africa, and the United Kingdom,” Acott says. “It seems that everyone I ask understands the concept, but I wanted to explore the particular losses that women seem to have in common. I was amazed at how much larger the topic became as each submission came in, and how enthusiastic even non-artists were to express themselves in this way. It would be interesting to see similar installations with work from people from different genders, cultures, religions, or whatever groups might have a story to explore.”
Acott and several of her collaborators will be present at the opening; a project website includes an ongoing account of its development, unpackingtheshadow.com.