Thursday, September 13, 2007 at 4pm
Oliver Hall, 1001 W. Main, Room 1031
By the time she became intrigued (even obsessed) with the etching of Olaus Worm’s 17th-century natural-history cabinet in the mid-1980s, Rosamond Purcell was already a photographer of note. She had created a fascinating body of large-format photographs with the Polaroid Corporation’s experimental 20-by-24-inch camera, and she had embarked on several collaborative projects with the renowned paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould. The etching of Worm’s room turned her already intense passion for collecting (she grew up with collector parents) in a new direction: She wanted to recreate it in three dimensions. Purcell contemplated every aspect of the engraving, imagining herself in it, studying the strange and rare objects, and, over the last two years in particular, systematically planning what would have to be found, created, and concocted to replicate both the letter and spirit of that room. The exhibition “Two Rooms” is the apotheosis of Purcell’s 20-year preoccupation. It recreates on site and in exact scale Olaus Worm’s naturalist cabinet, adjacent to the reconstructed deconstruction of her own studio. The intersection of these two rooms, separated by time but joined by sensibility, determination, and vision, provides a magical and scintillating journey into the mind of a singular and gifted artist. Life and art are one for Purcell. She is an original and poignant thinker. She makes us marvel, contemplate, and see anew.