The Distance Is Getting Closer, a solo exhibition by Serena Himmelfarb
Hampshire College Art Gallery (893 West St., Amherst, MA 01002, Amherst MA)
In *The Distance is Getting Closer* (March 6 - 31, 2023)*,* Serena Himmelfarb challenges the aims of traditional landscape painting, which sought to capture and harness the divine light of the wilderness, and instead seeks engagement with its multiple histories, complex infrastructure and divergent ecologies. For the past three years, Himmelfarb has immersed themselves in the liminal spaces of Western New England wilderness, with the Quabbin Reservoir as a touchstone. Their studio practice, which includes foraging, researching, drawing, observing, and living in the outdoors, is driven by a yearning for a decentered expression of place.
The exhibition features work made through traditional methods of observation and idiosyncratic processes based in post-studio methodologies. Paintings, drawings, photographs, rubbings, scents, waters, and installations are presented as objects alone and images stitched into clustered groupings that expand the many ways art can approach landscape.
Himmelfarb takes the outdated tenets of New England landscape painting to task, images that have promoted the erasure of the complex histories and worlds of western Massachusetts, and questions art’s role in distancing the responsibility [we] feel toward the environment. “The title of the exhibition is a paradox,” Himmelfarb explains; “it prompts confronting the distance and the mechanism that makes the distance feel so far away.” Out of observation, out of study, the work sidles up to the unknown, the splendor and the noise, of the built landscape without the aim to capture, steal, and erase. The result is a series of images that layer the complex workings of the Quabbin site without the need to reconcile their differences.
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There will be a closing reception on March 30, 5-8pm