There are places to which none of us can ever go…or return. The past; others’ heads; the womb - the place to where loved ones have crossed over. Likewise, we all have talismans which impart a certain sense; a sliver of the unreachable place. For Mia Rosenthal, her straightforwardly sweet simulacrums of sent and received postcards impart a secondary, more spiritually acute layer to an already powerful metaphor for those places we cannot go, cannot be, or are not – as well as those people who inhabit them, or are passing through before us. On the uncomfortable cusp of welcoming a new life - her child - Rosenthal found comfort in celebrating one recently-departed life, that of her uncle's, by painstakingly reinterpreting the talisman of shared postcards – those small purchased icons of travel and exoticism; the skimmed-off leftovers of a life’s memory. The drawings' mostly hatched and linear interpretation extend the sense of improbability and distance - while preserving the warmth.
For every sensory sliver from place to place, a vector is needed, and Rosenthal also sensed this correctly by making a postmortem catalog of part of her aunt’s postage stamp collection – bringing some coherence to what had been a haphazard habit in waking life. An even smaller icon of the connections between unlikely places stamps, like postcards, being quickly outmoded as they are, also impart a sense of nostalgia and whimsy to what could have been an otherwise dour examination of life’s ends and passings.
An even more familiar rectangle, along with postcards and stamps, is the doorway. Likewise a domestic and familiar limnal presence, doorways are an even more fragile and immediate skin between spaces. Stamps and postcards bring home some of the exotic and unreachable to us; doorways allow us to be more active in movement through: they give us more power; more control. In a way, they could be seen as the negative to the postcard’s positive: the closed card a symbol of the desire for the open door. Clint Jukkala previously worked more with the positive – shakily digital renderings of top-heavy bouquet forms; or slowly branching, slow-motion fireworks. Recently though, Jukkala’s bouquets have dissipated and migrated to the edges, and suggest portals, or doorways; the promising rainbows building, enveloping and bordering, rather than blossoming or branching into bouquet or fountain forms. His bright lines quiver and undulate ever so slightly, but always manage to click into appropriate positions in time to allow us egress.
Rosenthal’s approach is talisman, but clear; Jukkala’s more at-hand icons conversely are, ironically, more ambiguous: are we entering or exiting these doorways; these portals? But not unlike many of the color and square studies by Josef Albers, the spaces and ways through are infinitely commutable; universal; eternal. The essence really is the movement through – the process – rather than the direction. No matter what space or place our life is finding form within, a human yearns for a little of another – and we will continue to find talismans for that yearning. Jukkala and Rosenthal have found related, but aesthetically divergent, ways into that yen.
-- Timothy Gierschick is an artist who lives and works in Philadelphia. He is a co-founder and current member of Tiger Strikes Asteroid.