Artist Mo Ringey might say the current
focus of her work is about picking up the
pieces of her life. She began working in
tempered glass nine years ago when she discovered
someone had smashed her car window outside
her Boston apartment. She gathered up the
shards of glass and saved them, later fashioning
them into a vase.
Since then, Ringey has made tempered glass
her specialty, using it to cover the surfaces
of everyday domestic objects, from refrigerators
to urinals, with sparkling, colorful mosaics.
Ringey writes: "Smashed glass is often
associated with accident, crime, vandalism,
perhaps violence. I see it as a metaphor
for that part of all of us, the residue
of past trauma and pain. We hardly notice
other people's smashed glass and step gingerly
over it, yet we see our own. We are all
composed of fragments of our past experiences,
present lives, hopes and dreams. Using this
medium to create something new is, to me,
a metaphor for healing, transforming and
Her artwork, as well as pieces in a variety
of mediums by Holyoke artist Amy Johnquest,
is on view at the Northampton Center for
the Arts through Nov. 30.
Ringey's glass-encrusted pieces recall
some of the works made famous during the
Dada movement of the early 1900s, which
sought to redefine what art is. Called by
its proponents the "anti-art," Dada, for
example, championed such pieces as Marcel
Duchamp's "Fountain," which is in fact a
There's also a urinal in Ringey's exhibit,
along with a Wringer washing machine, a
1950s-era television and a trio of Florence
Diner stools, all covered in a glittering
mosaic of glass.
Ringey makes you look at ordinary objects
in a different way, but her work says more
Her re-fashioned television set, for example,
features a screen composed of shards of
translucent glass fitted together in a mosaic
with what looks like gold glue. The surface
looks like the cracked sand of a desert
floor, a flock of crows silhouetted against
the sky or, fittingly, a smashed windshield.
There's an ominous and, not surprisingly,
hard-edged feel to the piece, which is heightened
by a circular florescent light bulb that
glows inside the otherwise empty television
The light bulb seems like a cheap attempt
to add a little magic, a Wizard of Oz pulling
the strings behind the curtain. The work
suggests the fragmented visions and less-than-convincing
images of reality that we view on television
- often with cracks that are all too easy
In the center's other exhibition room
Amy Johnquest's work also has a sideshow
feel with the gallery walls covered, almost
from floor to ceiling, with the artist's
large-scale black-and-white drawings and
Painted on cotton mesh, her colorful banners
draw from the timeworn circus tradition
of larger-than-life advertising to poke
holes in - or make fun of - accepted truths,
or to put a new spin on well-known slogans.
One banner, for example, depicts an idyllic
seaside scene and this sales pitch: "Limited
Time Offer - Everything Must Go."
A series of smaller banners recall the
pitches of sideshow barkers, while raising,
ironically, age-old metaphysical questions,
with slogans like "All Secrets Revealed,"
"Inquire Within" and "You are Here Now.
Johnquest says her banners "blatantly
advertise things that are not for sale and
may not even exist ... they smack with an
odd combination of tongue-in-cheek truth,
invented history and sincerity."
The show is on view at the Northampton
Center for the Arts, 17 New South St., third
floor, through Nov. 30. Hours are Tuesdays
through Fridays, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. For information,
call 584-7327 or visit www.nohoarts.org.