Rachel Bess
Charlotte Potter

January 9 - February 27, 2016


Rachel Bess  /  Charlotte Potter


January 9 – February 27, 2016

Opening reception with the artists

Saturday, January 9th, 2016, from 7:00 – 9:00pm


Lisa Sette Gallery will exhibit recent work by two young artists addressing issues of personal identity and digital personae. Arizona artist Rachel Bess makes modern-day vanitas and still-lifes in gemlike oil on panel, while Virginia-based Charlotte Potter accesses traditional forms of glassworking in creating distinctly contemporary sculptural and installation works. Both are rigorous practitioners who apply their formal skill to investigating concepts of selfhood and connection in a world of manufactured identities and enigmatic interactions.

The painter Rachel Bess melds traditional artmaking methods with 21st century concerns: Wielding light and shadow like an enchantment, Bess creates likenesses that are limpid and acute, in the formal vein of the old masters. Yet her models are contemporaries in leather corsets and black lipstick, posed in eerie vignettes, and her paintings are studded with present-day references. The result is startling—romantic and stylishly dark, somber and suggestive.

Bess remarks that her newest body of work came about in part through “thoughts about how different people and times are connected through inanimate objects.” To this end, her exhibition will comprise a series of portraits and still lifes linked by a common object.

“The thread that runs through all of the work is the idea of disparate people being, often unknowingly, connected through something that has no sentiment for the people it connects.”  -Rachel Bess

A pioneer in performative and conceptual work in the medium of glass, Charlotte Potter uses the material as a metaphor for the fluidity, duality, and transparency of the self, and as representative of that which delineates the invisible borders between people. Some of the works in her Cameo series are made up of the profile pictures of would-be Facebook friends, blending the idea of a traditional cameo silhouette with the dissembling imagery presented on social media feeds.

In Message Received, Potter chronicles her relationship with a lover through a series of text messages: each message is displayed in a simple hinged locket, a message in relief and a reply in intaglio, as though if the words could just fit together somehow, they might create an impossible, perfect exchange between the two.

“All of my work is really about trying to articulate relationships in the modern age through virtual personas,” says Charlotte Potter. “What I’m interested in is how these…play out in our lives…and how to make them physical again.”

In Post Script, Susan, Potter notes the strange quality of memorializing a loved one online, and the virtual afterlife that occurs on Facebook.

“In developing the cameo series mining Facebook data, I started to become acutely aware of friends who have passed on and the ways in which people attempt to reach out to them by posting on their wall. This work is the natural conclusion to this series exploring connectivity through social media and trying to make virtual relationships tangible. I am interested in the shadows that people leave behind and different mourning practices in modern society. Designed in the style of Victorian Mourning jewelry, each piece has been configured using Facebook data representing the frequency and volume of posts through glass beads and chains.”  -Charlotte Potter




Top: Rachel Bess, Peeling Off the Darkness, 2015, oil on panel, 18″ x 14.5″ painting, 25.25″ x 22″ framed
Bottom: Charlotte Potter, Post Script – Susan, 2016, custom hand engraved glass cameos, glass beads, silver, 17″ x 17″