While it lasts


13FOREST Gallery is pleased to present While it lasts, a meditation on the pleasures and pains of parenting while working as an artist; featuring linoleum prints by Ellen Shattuck Pierce and wire sculptures by CW Roelle.

While it lasts references the oft-repeated mantra offered to new parents: enjoy your children’s childhood while it lasts. The phrase is bittersweet, a reminder of the special joy of raising young children and how quickly that time passes. For artists Roelle and Pierce, this seemingly simple task of enjoying one’s children becomes much more complicated. As the parents of young sons, Roelle and Pierce must face the daily challenge of simultaneously maintaining their place within a family and their identity as individual artists. 

Roelle’s meticulous wire sculptures examine the delicate balance between personal time and family time. His first explicitly personal body of work, Roelle’s sculptures illustrate the range of activities that occupy a summer spent with his boys, from hunting through flea markets to days at the beach. Among these seemingly carefree scenes, Roelle includes images of his attempts to make time for himself and his relationship with his wife. For Roelle, parenting is a constant push-pull between the desire to spend time with his kids, the routines required of everyday existence, and his desire to follow his own artistic pursuits. His perpetually divided attention is a frequent source of personal dissonance. 

Pierce’s work represents the fragile equilibrium of home life with images of mundane tasks that have gone awry in fantastical ways. A pile of laundry transforms into massive flowers, hangers waiting to hold clean laundry become an impressive Alexander Calder mobile. Pierce’s work reveal the unattainable nature of domestic perfection that many parents strive towards but cannot realistically achieve. 

For While it lasts, Pierce has also created a special toile wallpaper in collaboration with Roelle. Unlike traditional French toile scenes of idyllic country life, Pierce depicts the often cramped nature of recreation in the city. While her imagery evokes the inventiveness of city dwellers having summer fun with limited space and resources, she includes fantastic and grotesque elements that serve as a reminder that urban summers are under threat from an ever-worsening housing crisis. Incorporated into the wallpaper are Roelle’s wire recreations of his summer activities with his children. Throughout both bodies of work, childhood joy is always tempered by other pressures that take precedence over the simple pleasure of spending time with one’s children. Both Roelle and Pierce express the universal struggle of parents to be fully present for their children before they are grown.

July 20 - September 20, 2019

Sat 7/20, 4-6 pm: Opening Reception
Sat 8/17 - Sun 8/18: Massachusetts Tax-Free Weekend
Sat 8/24, 4-6 pm: Time Out - a conversation with the exhibition's artists

Top: Ellen Shattuck Pierce, detail from  Ironing 4 , collaged linoleum print Bottom: CW Roelle,  “This One” (Jeep) , painted steel wire

Top: Ellen Shattuck Pierce, detail from Ironing 4, collaged linoleum print
Bottom: CW Roelle, “This One” (Jeep), painted steel wire

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About the Artists

Ellen Shattuck Pierce grew up in Rutland, Vermont. She graduated from the University of Massachusetts with a Bachelor of Arts in Art and Women's Studies and received a Master of Fine Arts from York University in Toronto. Pierce's work expresses the private fantasies she experiences as a parent that often do not harmonize with the ideals of modern American homemaking. In her prints, she is allowed to be spiteful, self-pitying, violent and selfish; her work often examines the sharp distinction between expectations and reality when it comes to parenting. Pierce enjoys pushing the boundaries of printmaking by using collage and incorporating unexpected materials such as fur or glitter. She currently lives in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts.

CW Roelle is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. He began drawing with wire in his junior year when, after looking at a figure drawing he had just made in class he wanted to reach into the paper, grab the line and move it with his hands. Roelle still considers his wire pieces drawings more than sculptures. The imagery he uses is often inspired by the silent film era and the narratives he creates are generally subtle mood studies. His work belongs to the permanent collections of the Newport Art Museum, the Women and Infants Hospital in Providence and Fidelity Investments. Roelle lives in western Rhode Island and works as a postal carrier.