By Erin Hylen ’19
Arts & Life Editor
On Sept 2, 2017, the gallery at the Barrington Center for the Arts held an opening reception for a three-piece art installation, entitled “Remembering”, by Gordon College alumna Claire E. Roll ’09.
“The process for these pieces was incredibly emotional, on all levels. Narratively they represent specific moments—memories—I have gathered; they are placeholders for sensory impressions I have experienced in my life. They embody my fears and my prayers,” Roll said.
Roll, who completed her Master of Fine Arts from Boston University in May 2016, said that while the installation includes three distinct pieces— entitled “Gathering”, “Sieve”, and “Continuing”—they each work together as “singular members of a larger whole.”
“‘Gathering’ is meant to be a macro look at the act of coming together; of becoming ‘One’,” Roll said.
“Continuing”, in contrast, has a focus on the micro, Roll said, “as if we have zoomed in on what is occurring in ‘Gathering’ and have now been invited to become a part of it.”
“Sieve”, physically located between her other two works, represents a pause in thought, Roll said.
As for the effect of “Remembering” on those who experience it, Roll said, “My hope is not so much that each individual would take something away, but rather each person would begin to recognize just how much they are bringing with them into the space. That what they have come with, that what they already have, who they already are, is so incredibly important to the larger conversation of our communal lives together.”
When asked about the significance of naming her installation “Remembering”, Roll said, “Remembering is an active word that is both cerebral and emotive…. It is a signifier of the act of looking again at something in order to understand or see it in a new light.
She added, “It also relates to the idea of being a member of a larger whole. The idea that communal memory and identity is formed by many diverse members and their individual sensory impressions that form each one’s personal identity. By remembering who our Creator intended us to be, we recognize, recreate, reshape a world where all are welcome at the table.”
Roll’s faith has a deep connection to the creation of her art, and she said that she first experienced how the two could intertwine through observing her father, an artist himself.
“It was incredibly formative for me to watch him work and to hear him speak about his work as an extension of his faith; an active pursuit of a close relationship with our Creator,” she said.
From her father, she discovered the creation of art to be “less about creating something for someone to look at and more about honest and personal reflection that may, or may not, inspire others,” she said.
Roll also explained how her time at Gordon shaped her artwork.
“For me, because of the reflective and spiritual atmosphere cultivated by the faculty, there was a constant pulling on my mind about how the physical process of my work connected to my faith, and to the process of ‘self- making’ that is required in being a follower of Christ,” She said.
“For the first time in my formal education, I was able to earnestly and openly pursue this connection with the support of my professors and classmates.”
Roll described herself as a “compulsive note-taker and sketcher,” constantly writing down ideas for her artwork as they come to her, whether that’s for a piece she’s working on at the time or a possible future work.
“The pages are like an archive of ideas that wait for me to return whenever I need inspiration,” she said.
When it comes to inspiration for her work, Roll said she constantly looks for things she finds beautiful in everyday life. “I have come to define the word ‘Beauty’ not as something that makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside, but as a thing – residing even in darkness – that has enough potential energy to create a spark.”
Roll gave examples of this beauty as being “anything from a moment of absolute silence within a monastery in Orvieto, Italy, to a piece of discarded chewing gum on the sidewalk [she] came upon during [her] walk to work.”
Through her studies at Gordon, Roll learned not to be afraid of failure and to take risks, she said. “This taught me that I am in control of my life and my work, and that I can do anything I put my mind to as long as I am willing to reach out and humbly accept the help of those around me.”
Roll recently returned to Gordon to participate in the Alumni-Undergraduate Artist Mentorship Program, mentoring art majors Justin Kedl ‘18 and Sophie Linnell ‘18. This program allows accepted students to work outside of the classroom with a Gordon alum on an exhibit to be displayed in the Barrington Center Art Gallery.
“Remembering” is scheduled to be on display in the Barrington Center for the Arts until October 18th, 2017.