top of page

Hard Rain
Solomon Dubnick, 2012

Content.  Container.

Spirit.  Body.

History.  Home.


When the container breaks what becomes of the contained?  How do we pass through the liminal spaces of significant transition into a new, more stable condition?  Can art and beauty help us here? These are some of the questions that guided the making of the work in this collection, “Hard Rain.”  While the source material is unapologetically personal, the broader subject is liminality itself “the dislocation of established structures, the reversal of hierarchies” and the liminal nature of memory, too, which traverses the emotional spaces within, resisting its own destruction.


The paintings in the first gallery result from me placing myself, room by room, at the moment of the demolition of an 18th century farmhouse, a place of essential psychological importance to me and my family.  On a recent trip to Long Island, where the home once stood, I found myself standing in a field of weeds with not one recognizable physical object to attest to the presence of two centuries of occupants. This easy-obliteration of history across the American landscape, indeed wherever ‘development’ is achieved, involves, always, a shattering of place and an irrevocable loss of physical touchstones for memory.


Often we are left to find psychological home without a physical manifestation of home.

The photography here began as a way to better visualize relationships between things in space and quickly became a way to capture transitional mental or emotional space - an indistinct placeless place adrift with images of evolving significance.


Though I’ve never previously responded directly to the content of my visual art in poetry, I couldn’t resist as these images seemed to have another voice I could almost hear.  The poems that accompany the photographs, (in the silver book on the table in the second gallery), and their nostalgic van dyke prints, concern themselves often with phenomenology of presence and absence, and with recollection and change. The recurring, generic ‘figure’, ‘chair’, ‘home’, ‘weeds’ have personal meaning initially but, in their variations and transmutations, begin to point to their own commonalities and their own essence, hopefully speaking to us of ours.


One etymology I considered in all the work in this show was that “liminal” itself comes from the Latin “limen” or “threshold.”  There is a crossing over, always, from the originating thing to our naming or claiming understanding of it, to remembering it, or to painting or writing about it. Even when the thing is gone, when the container breaks or is broken, when the body is gone and the house, the evolution of meaning and resonance continues. 


And in the end, for me, the constant in all things, all places, phases, and all states – stable or transitory -, is beauty.  It is that which for me endures, comforts, graces and re-inspires  - “gives breath anew” - and helps us on our way into a new state of continued, brilliant living.


- Laura Hohlwein




bottom of page