When Caitlin Argyle set out to curate “Ghosts,” an exhibit currently on display at Anchor Art Space, she’d already spent a number of years developing close relationships with her own ghosts. The artists she chose to take part in the visual haunting—Bill Finger, Ford Gilbreath, Joe Rudko, Justin Colt Beckman, Michelle Alexis Newman, and Forrest Perrine—offered their own takes on the concept of what it takes to bring spirits to life.
Cascadia Weekly: Why is this show so personal for you?
Caitlin Argyle: It is personal in that I’ve lost many people that have been close to me over the years. I’ve always found it hard to let go of these people completely, and struggle with the idea that moving on really is all it’s cracked up to be. Instead, I’ve taken to embracing these memories as part of my everyday life. Understanding that just because the past stays with us doesn’t make it less or more valid, just that it is another piece. In many ways “Ghosts” is cathartic for me. It faces memory head on and embraces its power.
CW: How did the exhibit come about?
CA: The exhibit came about after many, many declarations to anyone that would listen that ghosts are real and that the word “ghost” has so many meanings and cultural significance. I’m sure everyone I know is tired of it by now.
CW: What are you hoping people take away after viewing “Ghosts?”
CA: I want people to see what I see in these artists. The way their work deals with memory is delicate and strong. Besides it being really appealing, the stories they tell are relatable. I want people to see their own life story reflected in these works.
CW: Do you feel all the images in “Ghosts” tell stories?
CA: I do. And I think it is one of the biggest strengths of the show. Some of the work tells a more apparent story, while other works allow the viewer to levy their personal story on them.
CW: Were you surprised by the different takes the artists had on the subject matter?
CA: What surprised me most was how cohesive the story they tell is. The artists’ takes are very different, but they make so much sense together. It really speaks to the strength of memory and how it affects people in such different ways. There are elements or fantasy, nostalgia and storytelling. All of it comes together to give a peek into the universality of wanting to retain and venerate the past.
CW: People generally think of ghosts as scary entities. Is this exhibit scary?
CA: It depends on how you look at it. I don’t see it as very scary, but I also don’t really see ghosts as being scary. They have a bad rap. Ghosts, in the traditional sense, are people that became so tied to a place, object, or person that even death can’t keep them away. They are the residuals of an obsession. It is pretty sad, or romantic, or creepy—I haven’t really decided yet.
CW: What’s cool about showing at Anchor Art Space?
CA: Anchor showcases art that can be hard to find outside of more metropolitan areas. We are accepting of all media, with the main goal of offering quality programming to our audience. Anchor’s exhibits are put together through rotating curators. It provides for some really varied and always interesting shows.
CW: What’s one more reason people should check out this show?
CA: In the practical sense, photography and video are hugely underrepresented in art galleries in the area. “Ghosts” highlights those media in a way that people can identify with on a very personal level. Simply by evoking those personal stories, the experience becomes something we can all identify with.
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