The Moment - Feb 22, 2020

Artist Kristin Casaletto takes a hard look at the South in Georgia Museum exhibition

  • ATHENS, Georgia
  • /
  • April 11, 2017

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Kristin Casaletto (American, b. 1967), "Apocalypse," 2008. Woodcut and watercolor on paper, 48 x 96 inches. Collection of the artist.

What do Twinkies, canned hams, locusts and glitter have in common? The Augusta-based artist and teacher Kristin Casaletto has used all of them to make art that engages with social issues. Primarily a printmaker, she likes to experiment with unusual objects. She once printed an etching of Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate States of America, on a grilled cheese sandwich.
 
You can see her more traditional work on paper (and a few locusts) at the Georgia Museum of Art at the University of Georgia starting May 6, in the exhibition “The Past Is Never Dead: Kristin Casaletto.” Organized by Sarah Kate Gillespie, the museum’s curator of American art, the exhibition shows Casaletto reacting to her adopted home: the South.
 
Originally from Indiana, she attended Ball State University there, double majoring in drawing and physics. But when she moved to Mississippi for a teaching career, she was startled to discover the legacy of racism and the way the past remained part of daily life in the South. Since then, she has mined its history for content, making etchings, woodcuts, drawings and more that examine themes including the passage of time, memory, American iconography and obsession with the “self.”
 
“I admire Kristin Casaletto’s willingness to grapple openly with thorny topics from our past, but also her intelligent focus on contemporary trends like ‘selfie’ culture,” said Gillespie. “Casaletto’s work finds connections between the past and the present in a way that enables the viewer to think deeply about current political, social and cultural issues.”
 
“The Past Is Never Dead” will be on view May 6 through July 30. Related events include a tour with Gillespie on May 10 at 2 p.m.; 90 Carlton Spring, the museum’s quarterly reception (free for members of the Friends of the Georgia Museum of Art, $5 non-members) on May 12 at 5:30 p.m.; and a Twilight Tour on May 18 at 7 p.m. All events are free and open to the public unless otherwise indicated.
 
The exhibition’s title comes from William Faulkner’s book “Requiem for a Nun,” which includes the famous sentences “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”
 
“The Past Is Never Dead” consists primarily of works on paper, with some three-dimensional objects but no grilled cheese sandwiches.


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