To “make do” is an idiom. Grammatically, it is a phrase. It means to work with what one has on hand or to persevere through difficult circumstances.
Each artist in this show makes work that exemplifies this term. Some of us have always worked in this way: gleaning the metaphor from the world, finding meaning in everyday objects, and excavating the strange beauty we perceive in the cast-offs in the street, field, and forage.
Others found our way to this kind of work during the pandemic: forced into isolation, we questioned, examined, played with and discovered new and fruitful ways of working.
Ultimately, though, the way in which each of us collects, destroys, re-enlivens, manipulates, and rearranges the materials and objects we work with comes from a common place: we are not depicting these materials; rather, the artists are using the materials and objects to make the work itself. They are making do with what they have or find around themselves: newspapers, fruit stickers, fiddling objects, snapshots, staples, tangerine peels, grape stems, and much much more.
Each artist finds resonance in this stuff of life, from Shannon Curry Hartmann’s brooding pandemic era newspaper collages to Rachel Perry’s obsessive, beautiful and weirdly funny fruit sticker drawings. From Karla Carballar’s collection of fidgeting objects, arranged into a minimalist grid of maximal anxiety, to Heather Cox’s sculptural celebration of the snapshot era in all its mundane and yet somehow mysterious glory. Emna Zghal‘s wood/print/collage conversations yield beautiful and haunting abstracted landscapes, and Mollie Murphy takes the small sculptures that emerge out of the stuff she scavenges and relocates them among wall hangings inspired by the original making- do mother-of-it-all: the hand made quilt.
There is so much in all this work that expresses the ethos of “making do”. The emphasis is on MAKING: making objects, making structures, making sense, meaning, and metaphor, and DO: collaging, manipulating, sewing, stapling, cutting.
But in the end, it is a collection of curious, strange and often beautiful artworks that function in the way art often will: to provoke the viewer to reconsider the daily world.