Inside the Box

Collective curates fridge-inspired show

How often do you think hard about your refrigerator? Is it kind of just there for you? Or is yours the protagonist in the eternal conundrum: “It’s full of stuff, so why is there nothing to eat?”

Given more consideration, the refrigerator, introduced to U.S. kitchens in 1923 by Frigidaire and ubiquitous by the 1940s, is an emblem of bounty and scarcity, leisure and productivity and many other imbalanced pairings. Even its aesthetics — initially homey and white, today coveted in stainless steel and with ice-producing gadgetry — exemplify much more than a piece of equipment which keeps food cold.

Clearly, it has lassoed the imagination of The Rule of Three, an artists’ collective made up of Abby Cheney, Rina AC Dweck and Hannah Washburn. They, along with five other artists they invited to participate, will present The Fridge Show at the Garrison Art Center beginning with a reception from 5 to 7 p.m. on Saturday (Aug. 14) and continuing through Sept. 12.

The artists consider a range of questions that relate to the role of the refrigerator, according to the exhibition notes, including “emotional labor, death and decay, material preservation and female identity.”

The project emerged pre-pandemic and, over the course of 18 months, was inevitably influenced by time spent indoors, with food shopping turning fraught but baking providing more than sustenance.

Washburn, who lives in Beacon, said the collective’s name signifies that “three examples of something are needed in order to prove a point. The three of us brought in our own connections to build a compound narrative that intersects.”

For this project, she says, the team “brainstormed artists, then asked them if they would be open to making new pieces specifically for this exhibition. We wanted to present as much diversity of media and opinion while still connecting with this central theme. Luckily, it lent itself to so many possibilities: kitchen, home, space, femininity.”

The other five artists are Ana Maria Farina, who also lives in Beacon, along with Melissa Capasso, Yen Yen Chou, Marianna Peragallo and Charlotte Woolf, who are residents of New York City.

Their contributions range from the literal to conceptual, including an installation of “here’s what’s inside my fridge” photos sent by people from around the world in response to an Instagram prompt by Woolf. (See @fridge_zoom.)

At its core, Washburn says, a refrigerator is an appliance that people  “don’t think about too much until we have to. Especially in the pandemic, we’re attuned to the fridge. If it were to stop functioning, what would happen?”

The curators hope the exhibit provides plenty of food for thought. “For many of us,” their notes say, “the fridge is tied to a maternal or nurturing presence in our lives. It is an appliance we depend on for storage, preservation and longevity. What we find inside, however, is less of a guarantee.”

The Garrison Art Center, at 23 Garrison’s Landing, is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily except Monday. See garrisonartcenter.org or call 845-424-3960.

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