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Robin Mandel: Give and Take

Robin Mandel: Give and Take
February 5 – March 7, 2024

Opening Reception: Monday, February 5, 4 – 6 pm

Herter Art Gallery is pleased to present Give and Take, a solo exhibition by Robin Mandel, Associate Professor in the Department of Art at the University of Massachusetts.


In Robin Mandel’s recent work, motion is the catalyst for narrative. Motion creates a changing relationship between two or more entities, and thereby a story. Everyday objects or images (a candle, a bottle, a glass) are placed in situations of balance or opposition, revealing the narrative potential of their arrangements: harmony, connection, and play, but also tension, longing, and impasse.


The four hybrid works in this exhibition combine physical objects and video to create impossible scenes and visual paradoxes. Normally ephemeral moments are extended infinitely, objects appear and disappear, solid becomes permeable. The resulting objects hover between two, three, and four dimensions.


In Always Never (2017) a looping trail of smoke, the fading sign of a candle just blown out, here (through video) persists. The piece takes an ephemeral moment and extends it impossibly in time. The companion piece Maybe Someday (2023) inverts the gesture, both formally and tonally,

depicting a pouring bottle that never empties and a wine glass that never fills. Entertaining Illusion (2018) and Division of Leisure (2023) also merge objects and video, the first using a 19th century magician’s technique called Pepper’s Ghost, while the second employs miniature projectors and semi-transparent screens. The two-sided nature of these pieces serves to create a metaphorical, two-axis space of oppositions: digital/physical, object/image, motion/stillness.


From Mandel’s artist statement:


“Videos loop, motors rotate; both do the same thing over and over. My goal is to make this repetition meaningful, prying open the loop to allow a viewer to inhabit it, or twisting the loop tightly enough to create something new. These bent and twisted loops open the door to paradoxes: things that are both moving and still, there and not there, material and immaterial. I create objects and images that tell an impossible story.


In moments of conflict, confusion, or wonder, our seeing and our knowing diverge. My work operates in that cognitive gap, privileging neither knowledge nor experience, admitting instead the contradictory truths of both. To hold two opposing ideas in mind at once is a powerful act. It enables empathy; it is an antidote to intolerance; it validates doubt as an intellectual tool. To see one thing and know another – to grapple with paradox – the mind must find a way to allow for the impossible.”


Robin Mandel’s recent exhibition venues include the Zillman Art Museum at the University of Maine, the List Gallery at Swarthmore College, Boston Cyberarts Gallery, Currents New Media 2016 in Santa Fe NM, the Center for Maine Contemporary Art in Rockland ME, and the Wassaic Project in Wassaic NY. He has also exhibited in NYC, Portland (Maine), Boston, Montreal, Venice, Barcelona, and Jerusalem. He has held residencies at the MacDowell Colony, the Fine Arts Work Center, and Anderson Ranch Arts Center, and has been awarded grants from the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts and the St. Botolph Club Foundation in Boston. His teaching credits include the Rhode Island School of Design, the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Maine College of Art, Colby College, and UMass Amherst, where he is currently an Associate Professor. He lives in western Massachusetts.


Visit the artist website at Robin Mandel




Gallery Hours:
Mon – Fri: 11 AM – 4 PM
Sat: 1 PM – 4 PM
(Closed on Sundays and state holidays)