Past Collection Highlight - Jill MoserDrawing Meaning from Metaphor
Our typical first step toward making sense of a work of art-identifying an object or scene-can be unproductive when viewing abstract art. So how does one enter into a dialog with a work that is a tangle of calligraphic lines and faded erasures suspended in emptiness? A more intuitive approach akin to reading poetry or listening to music may lead to a more satisfying experience of work such as Jill Moser's Acrobat and other abstract prints commissioned by the Lincoln Center List Print Program. Like some poetry, Moser's work is both complex and spare, manipulating the space between language and image to directly communicate a feeling or perception.
Playfully ambiguous titles offer a starting point not only for the viewer, but sometimes also for the artist. Gently holding these words in mind, like a meditation, Moser lets concepts emerge and flow from an almost subconscious place through her arm to trace their own form on the paper. She feels that "the image is active in the process of describing itself."
The title Acrobat elicits associations with agile, twisting movement, which also describes the indigo loops. Simile provides further passage into the work: The arcs are like the acrobat's movements, too rapid for the eye to follow. The lines' hazy afterimages are as repetitive as the paths of many bees revisiting a flower. The lines are like jazz improvisations, weaving a complex sound that can never be precisely repeated.
Spending more time with a work rewards a viewer with richer associations. The visual lyricism of Moser's work draws a patient viewer beyond simile to metaphorical interpretations of intangibles such as relationships, moods, personalities, or silent, fragmentary narratives. Often Moser couples "figures" or works, prompting contemplation on the dynamic interplay of forms, and by extension, on our own human relationships and interactions. However, the isolated form in Acrobat encourages a more introspective meditation. Is this line exuberant, frustrated, capricious, tireless? In what ways can we identify with this line, which bursts forth with such energy, and is repeatedly drawn back toward an inscrutable core? Does it suggest rejuvenation or restriction?
The work of this emerging New York artist is readily identifiable by her signature gestures on an undefined ground. Yet, the subtle variations in each piece will bring to mind, for the unhurried viewer, a unique succession of similes, metaphors, and meanings.
Assistant Curator of Collections and Exhibitions