Focusing on the pure act of remembering, Caine pulls from memory, thought and emotion throughout her process, specifically examining how the contours of memories are inextricably altered by the very act of remembering. In her use of hand cut paper, she works both additively and reductively to create images that, according to the artist, “possess the fluid and labile quality of memory. The accumulation of layers and marks crystallize to create a bridge between my initial inspiration and the physical reality of the piece.”
Words in Air is the culmination of a site-specific project co-created by Jennifer Caine and Rachel Hellmann at the Addison Gallery of American Art last year. The piece combines the visual and verbal ideas of both artists as inspired by the language of painting and poetry, and where each art form communicates distillations of experience. Caine, embracing the ‘code’ of language as an additional tier to memory recall, created an elemental dance of form, in these brilliantly high colored layers of perforated paper. This striking environment envelops viewers in its play of light and saturated color; the sheaths of paper, with their cuneiform-like openings, embody the ideas of collaboration and creative exchange, of language and presence, of poetry and affect.
Comprised of a series of floor-to-ceiling painted, sewn, and hand-cut paper ‘pages,’ (Words in Air) resembles a human scale artist’s book—a porous container of light and color that not only invites viewing but also encourages movement in, around, and through it. –Addison Gallery of American Art.
The artists further commented on the genesis of their groundbreaking installation as follows: “Transcribing a selection of poems by 20th century American female poets—letter by letter—in an invented shorthand of simplified marks, we created a chorus of poetic voices into a single visual response. Addressing ideas of light and color in both the choice of poems and in the ways we restructure them, we are looking to marry form and content. Woven together, layered, and suspended in space, the ‘words’ are united through cast shadows and reflected color to create a visual experience that is cohesive and solid, but at the same time shimmers and shifts in conversation with the ever-changing light and movement of people within the gallery.”