Jan 28-Jun 5, 2022
Dana Oldfather, Flyfall, 2022 (detail). Drawing, dimensions variable. Courtesy the artist
Luminous and dreamlike, Dana Oldfather’s paintings depict an imagined view of the world, one that prompts an introspective look at the layers and language of the human experience. Her portrayal of women engaged in everyday actions and tasks–climbing, swinging, stumbling, sneezing, loading the washing machine–merge current events, art history, folktales, and personal experience to evoke the emotional complexities of real life situations. In Flyfall (2022), a site-responsive drawing for moCa’s Kohl Atrium, a series of female characters are intertwined with a flock of Canadian geese. Rising up the three-story wall, the hybrid creatures appear to be simultaneously flying and falling. Both resilient and defeated, free and tethered, the figures capture the inherent tension of “fight or flight”—the term for our automatic physiological reaction to an event that is perceived as mentally or physically frightening, the response that prepares us to fight or flee.
The richly imagined scenario in Flyfall and the range of possible interpretations that rise to its surface offer a reminder that our present moment is distinguished by a prevailing condition of groundlessness and uncertainty. Are the women and the geese fighting or are they working together? Are they separate entities or a hybrid form? What and how are they feeling as they wrestle together? By embracing ambiguity, Oldfather reminds us that teetering off the edge can mean both the brink of collapse and the steadying of one’s step before taking flight. Both flying and falling are possible, but how we decide to interpret the story is up to us.