Sentiment at the Griffin Museum

My exhibition, Sentiment, is up at the Griffin Museum through August 31. There have been some really great comments and reviews, and some not-so-great ones. I'm excited about this because it means it is generating conversation and varying opinions and views on the work. It is also very clear who chooses to take the time to explore the work further, read the statements, and interview me in person or on the phone, and who makes an assessment off of first impressions.

Paula Tognarelli, Director of the Griffin Museum of Photography wrote a nice little essay on Facebook about her experience with the work in the gallery, read on:

At the Griffin Museum of Photography I have observed diverse responses to Rafael Soldi's exhibit, "Sentiment." There are those that love the exhibit and there are those that strongly do not and some indifference falls into the mix as well.

One male patron asked only if the work was about homosexuals and moved on to the next exhibit quickly. Another visitor spent most of her time at the museum looking only at Soldi's photographs. One reviewer referred to the photographs as "mopey"; another as "cumulatively creepy."

Rafael's mother traveled all the way from South America to the Griffin Museum. Once there she told me she couldn't look at most of the photographs because she could see her son's pain in all of them. Of course a mother would be in tune with the nuance of her child's body language.

For me, the photographs speak volumes because loss is no stranger. I've doubled over in anguish and howled at a dark sky. I recognize the vacant gaze of grief and despair. In our society though men are not supposed to fall adrift in sorrow. They're supposed to suck it up and resume. Real men would.

Instead Soldi goes out on a limb for the viewer. He opens up his wound and holds it to the light. We get an invitation to the intimate of moments. He asks questions, pokes a stick and looks back. What now? Can I go on? Which way? Will I love again? How did this happen? His probing is uncomfortable. For some more so because it goes against the norm.

"Sentiment" is real and raw and human. I respect Soldi's process of exploring life's obstacles. Through his art, the artist emerges and takes a stand, stronger, braver and open to what lies beyond. And the photographs.... they speak to the purity of youth and tenderness with a pinch of naiveté. We've all been there; when love was eternal and then it wasn't. I do recall moping for a college semester or two.

I am very proud to host Rafael Soldi's photographs in exhibition at the Griffin. I love that they have churned the thinking of many. Isn't that what art should do? My thanks to you, Rafael Soldi.

Paula Tognarelli Executive Director and Curator Griffin Museum of Photography