Raquel Rabinovich: The Reading Room: Thompson Memorial Library, Vassar College

25 October - 20 December 2018

The Thompson Memorial Library at Vassar College will present a solo exhibition of works by the artist Raquel Rabinovich entitled Raquel Rabinovich: The Reading Room, in collaboration with the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center and concurrent with the exhibition Past Time: Geology in European and American Art, October 25 – December 20, 2018.  The Reading Room was curated by Mary-Kay Lombino; Past Times was curated by Patricia Phagan.


An artist reception will be held on Thursday, November 1, 5:30 – 7:30 pm at Thompson Memorial Library, Vassar College.  A Q & A with the artist and curator will take place at 6:00 pm. This event is free and open to the public.


Born in Argentina in 1929, Rabinovich moved to the United States in 1967 and now lives and works in the Hudson Valley. Throughout her extensive career, she has investigated how that which has been concealed emerges into view—how to make the invisible visible.  As a result, her works are defined by their durations: they are created over long periods and they are best experienced over a prolonged period and/or repeated viewings. The exhibition features mixed-media works on paper that span from 1978 to 2017.


The exhibition title The Reading Room refers to the location where the works are installed (an intervention of sorts into the south reading room of Vassar’s main library) but also serves as a metaphor for a possible approach to the work. The selections on view each represent an attempt to transcend the routine of every day, inviting viewers to enter into a place of contemplation in which many layers of meaning can be read in, or into, the individual artworks. Rabinovich describes this approach as a language of metaphors. In a recent interview she said, “Beyond the language of the novel or the poem or the story, there is always an element that is beyond the words, in between the lines, which is not literal. And that world is, for me, a wonderful world. I love that world. I resonate with that world.”


For instance, in her ongoing series River Library, the artist uses the mud from rivers around the world as a drawing medium. The layers of mud function as texts that carry latent histories of the rivers and the civilizations that have lived along their banks for millennia. About these histories the artist writes, “These drawings are for me like manuscripts, like pages of unwritten texts of those histories, at once literal and metaphorical.”


Also on view are works from three other series, Temples of the Blind Windows, Enfolded Darkness, and Thresholds, which all use language or numerical systems as a foundation. By layering symbols and materials on top of one another, Rabinovich often deliberately obscures hidden meanings and messages that unfold slowly before the viewer with time. Much like the books found on the shelves that surround the exhibition, the more one examines them closely, the more they reveal.


The exhibition is a collaboration with the Vassar College Libraries and is funded by the Virginia Herrick Deknatel Fund.