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‘Forgotten Spaces’ Video Art at RAG

Written By The Mountain Eagle on 2/29/24 | 2/29/24

Example of artist Kathleen Sweeney’s video art exhibit at RAG for the ‘Forgotten Spaces’ exhibition 

By Robert Brune

ROXBURY — At the current exhibition at the Walter Meade Gallery of the Roxbury Arts Center they explore the personal, metaphorical, and societal structures lost to time.  As the phrase goes, change is the one constant in life.  With the shifting nature of our economy from farming, we see barns throughout the county slowly laying waste to decay. While the occasional barn structure being one of the more obvious examples, the feeling of loss and yearning to honor the memories present themselves in many art forms at RAG for this showing through April 13th.  This article will focus on the two video installations presented by Timothy Cleary and Kathleen Sweeney. 

Timothy Cleary spent his childhood first growing up on a horse farm in Long Island, then moving to Boulder, Colorado, and finally returning to Brooklyn in his twenties. Cleary often visits family members who live in the town of Denver-Vega outside of Roxbury. He expressed a deep love for the upstate Delaware County country life and the original inspiration for his video art piece ‘All Visitors’ by saying, “The farm where that video I shot at is the most home of homes that I’ve ever had.” Cleary is a person that has honed his craft of accentuating emotion through composing music for tv, film, and radio with many credits and accomplishments including contributions to the first Pulitzer winning podcast ‘This American Life’, a recent documentary about an Icelandic fisherman ‘Blood Memory’, as part of the film unit for SNL, and now exploring audio/visual film arts. As for Cleary’s evolving concept of his piece, “This is the one piece of art I’ve been able to finish since the genocide in Gaza began (Oct. 2023)… It is my personal catharsis with what we’re seeing in Gaza, what we’re seeing in Palestine, in Sudan and in the Congo.”  The video is of a slow motion shot of a farm hay bin as the camera pans to the side, light slowly brightens with pollen particles filtered through the light. Clearly feels of this piece, “It is first about the audio (music) and secondly about the video.” The video, Cleary says, was originally shot in 2016 but the news coming from Gaza was the final motivation to finish this project. Cleary a fan of drama radio and award-winning humanitarian, long-term radio host, and author Studs Terkel, draws inspiration from stories that highlight emotion. This has played a significant role in his composing and now, in his artwork. 

Kathleen Sweeney has quickly endeared herself to the Delaware art community in the two short years since moving to the Roxbury area with her husband. Prior to making her permanent residence in upstate New York, Sweeney was an Assistant Professor at The New School which is affiliated with one of the top arts education institutions in the world, Parsons School of Design. The New School is described as where ‘artists and designers come together to challenge convention and create positive change’ according to the website of this NYC-based university.

"Eyesland,” by Kathleen Sweeney, is a four-minute multi-layered video travelogue woven from naturescapes and urban discoveries captured while wandering through the wilds of Iceland, New York, Los Angeles, the Hudson Valley and the Catskills. According to the artist, “Eyesland” explores how ‘eyes land’ on visuals to become memories, years or moments later, and the way the most evocative images remain and recombine, like mysterious dreams.

“I originally planned to submit a different piece to the ‘Forgotten Spaces’ exhibition at Roxbury Arts Group, but when I opened FinalCut Pro, I found ‘Eyesland’ already there, nearly completed. Forgotten spaces of video art!”

The video’s visual layers replicate non-linear memory fragments. What captures our attention long enough to activate the camera click? What remains of our recall?  A statue of Athena against a cloudscape in Reyjkavik. Graffiti messages decoded on an alley wall. Sparks flying up from a bonfire on the night sky.

Sweeney has shown her work throughout the country at SXSW, LA Center for Digital Art, Birmingham Civil Rights Museum, Woodstock Center for Photography, and locally at 1053 Main Street Gallery, and as a guest at Longyear Gallery in Margaretville recently. She is currently finalizing the planning of a series of workshops coming in August/September, “Living in the Catskills for the past two years has opened entire forests of visuals. I am looking forward to offering a series of public creativity workshops as part of The Book of Awe Project this summer, a continuation of the AMR Open Studios tour. Stay tuned for late summer dates and announcements.”

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