The Tender Touch of an Exceptional Motherhood
Flux Art Space, Long Beach
through June 29
By Lara Salmon
The front gallery area of Flux Art Space is a small, sunlit box. It sits on a quiet tree-lined street in the city of Long Beach. Though less than an hour outside of Los Angeles, the hustle of the city is absent. The summer air is warm and calm. It is from this atmosphere that you enter Alice Marie Perreault’s show One Step Removed.
On the immediate left, lined up in two rows next to the window, are a series of colorful bandanas. They are each folded in the same square-like flower petal configuration. Wishbones and clear, short medical tubes lie across them. The form of these folded bandanas is repeated throughout the gallery as painted objects, adorned with medical equipment in various ways. Re-enactments of the originals, each one is a step further away from the actual bandana.
At the center of the installation (when we consider all the work as a singular piece) is a structure made of two balancing doors. The horizontally diagonal lighter door supports the heavier one. Both are painted blue and white, like the sky. The heavier vertical door has square windows and the image of the replicating folded bandanas is painted onto its hinges.
Alice’s work is an intersection of personal and medical, its content inspired from the relationships she has with her children. Her son has been severely handicapped since birth due to an injury during labor and delivery. The bandanas in the show are from her home, they are what she uses for tracheostomy and the oral care of her son. The doors are also from her home, they demarcate the path the bandanas took from house to studio. The one with windows was her studio door, where bandanas literally passed through to become art objects. The lighter door is from her daughter’s room, a little vibrant lady who is in good health.
Alice raises the subtle beauty she finds in the everyday of caring for her son and daughter. Though the objects in the space are personal, their connotation speaks to contemporary political issues. Her show brings awareness to complex injustices of the medical system, and the right for people with disabilities to be seen as normal. Alice is an artist and mother, a dual identity that gets criticized by both feminist and patriarchal voices. A woman should be able to create art and take care of children without having to defend her attention towards either ambition.
Boundaries prevail as a unifying subject in One Step Removed. Doors represent the demarcation of certain activities within a home. It is when these barriers are taken down that living becomes intuitive. Through her work Alice shares the unique physical relationship she has with her son. Viewers are invited to consider whether they have alienated themselves from alternate forms of familial nurture. A practice of tenderness exists between Alice and her son that most women do not continue to have as their boys grow. The necessity of nurture brings joy to many mothers. It is only perhaps more prevalent in Alice’s life.
Alice Marie Perrault’s exhibition One Step Removed is on view at Flux Art Space until June 29, 2019, with opening hours 12-5pm or by appointment.
Flux Art Space is managed by Director and artist Betsy Lohrer-Hall and is located at 410 Termino Avenue, Long Beach, California 90814.