During the prime time that is Homecoming, the Constance Gallery becomes a display of Graceland’s past, present and future; a representation of interests that transcend generations. Now is the Time, alumni Peggy Mothershead’s series of work on display starting September 30th, delivers its message subtly and with a familiarity that those returning to Lamoni after many years will appreciate.
Mothershead, who grew up in Grand River, Iowa, about 20 miles north of Lamoni, has been an employee of Graceland for 21 years, working in the registrar’s office, as well as teaching photography and art appreciation courses for the university. While an employee, Mothershead took classes through Graceland, receiving her degree in Fine Arts in 2009. A degree in art, as is the case for many, wasn’t the plan when she first began her courses, but the indescribable allure of creation that attracts students each year was something she couldn’t deny.
Now is the Time could easily be considered a continuation of the themes and ideas that Mothershead has worked with since graduation. Using recycled materials acquired from local farms, homes and businesses, Mothershead’s process resembles that of a tinkerer’s: taking things apart to put them back together again. The artistic product takes a new form, however, as a series of both analogies and juxtapositions.
The continuation of her work is not something Mothershead hides; rather she uses it to emphasize the new elements that she has brought into her work. “The new, but old me,” as she describes it, is represented through subjects familiar to her, like animals, insects and plants, contrasted with a recent use of platonic solids, or shapes that occur naturally. Icosahedrons, dodecahedrons, and their respective meanings are at the focal point of Mothershead’s show, creating a bridge between the understandings of nature and math.
The name of the show, Now is the Time, is a subtle beginning to the overall message of the work on display. Think of it as the beginning of the sentence: Now is the time… to respect each other; now is the time… to embrace our differences; now is the time… to work together, to love together and to grow together. Respect, love and growth are themes that Mothershead has worked with since studying at Graceland, and her approach to addressing these ideas draws directly from her approach to materials.
In her use of recycled materials, Mothershead uses objects that serve a physical purpose in their application, and as such, serve a theoretical purpose when reconstructed into her work. In one piece, we see a shape built out of cement straps, a skeleton structure that holds on each side a planter plate. Supporting it is a hayrack, rustic and worn. Each material represents part of the theme, the whole piece questioning what our legacy will be, what seeds will we sow?
In her use of recycled materials, Mothershead draws on the area’s history, economy, and culture, and creates a familiarity that carries through her work. It’s hard to imagine a better theme and subject for this Homecoming season. Now is the Time urges us to reflect on what is familiar to us; remember our times at Graceland; remember Lamoni and Iowa; remember our parents; remember how we got here and where we have gone after. What we must also recognize is the duty we have as a community that trumpets the themes of this show to continue our effort of growth and acceptance. We must continue to ask ourselves, how do we better represent these virtues in this community, what actions do we promote, what care do we provide, and how do we, as members of the Graceland Community, better serve the people of the world?
Now is the Time reception is Friday, September 30th, 2016 at 7 p.m. in the Helene Center’s Constance Gallery. The show is open from September 30th to October 21st.
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