It is part of contemporary life in the United States to be bombarded daily with news of death. Most of it is violent and often shocking. We are also inundated with violent death via movies, television, video games, and other forms of media. In a culture that seems to be so preoccupied with death, why is it that we in the US make little effort to comprehend the reality of death, especially as it pertains to one's self or the people we are closest to? Is nonviolent death just too mundane for us? Most choose to wait to comprehend death only when it is imminent or as an aftereffect, often wrestling with it while mourning, and only confronting it after someone is already or very nearly gone. How we handle personal deaths has steadily become hands off, euphemistic, and uninvolved in our culture. Lawyers, churches, and funeral homes help us to be well "prepared" to usher loved ones away in an often dull, distanced, and businesslike series of transactions.
In xoxo, Howard and Lorraine Barlow anticipate and acknowledge one another’s impending deaths by creating sculptural works examining oath, love, loss, ritual, and tradition in a way that is anything but dull, distanced, or businesslike. Gallery goers will also have the opportunity to send letters to loved ones who have died with words they wish they had said, but didn’t, and would like them to know now. This project, “333 Fathoms,” will eventually culminate with the submerging of these “letters” at the edge of the continental shelf (50 mile off the Washington coast) on the next blue moon (July, 2015.)
Lorraine and Howard Barlow often work collaboratively, as well as independently, delving into themes of protection, vulnerability, violence, and threat. Much of their work juxtaposes the crafts of knitting and shooting and notions of rural idealism and domestic roles. Lorraine was taught to knit as a child by her Finnish grandmother on her family’s homestead in Naselle, Washington, where she grew up, and was knitting long before it was hip. She has an MA in literature from Central Washington University. Howard, who often fantasized about growing up on a family homestead, is an instructor of Sculpture at Central Washington University and a founding member of PUNCH Gallery.