The Rorschach test, which has been used to measure psychological states of being since the early 20th century, has been largely discredited as a diagnostic tool. However, it has found new life in a body of work created by visual artist Shana Kaplow, now on view at Rosalux Gallery. Kaplow, a fiscal year 2014 recipient of an Artist Initiative Grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, has created a work that extends 50 feet across over multiple sheets of paper. It evokes a Rorschach-esque aesthetic in a study of chairs, creating an entry point to the subconscious.
Invented by Swiss psychoanalyst Hermann Rorschach, the Rorschach test was inspired by Rorschach's childhood hobby of klecksography, an activity that involved creating pictures out of random inkblots. Later, he theorized that an analyst could determine the diagnosis of a mental health patient by interpreting what they saw when they looked at 10 different inkblots.
While Kaplow's ink paintings take on the specific subject of a chair, there is an element of abstraction that recalls the Rorschach test, perhaps inherent in the medium itself. The paintings, which bleed into one another from one paper to the next, have a dream-like quality, at times in focus and other times melting into blotchiness.
While you may not be able to determine which particular mental disorder you have by viewing this exhibit, there's something about the work that does tap into an element of the subconscious. The images shift in and out of focus, recalling everyday objects while
flowing into something more fuzzy, primal, and beyond what words can explain. The paintings are at times so faint they are barely visible, at other times they are clearly rendered, and then sometimes they move into the realm of surreal interpretation, taking the viewer on a journey into the mind.
Adding to this are two video pieces, which are existential in their own right, and a couple of paintings done in color that continue Kaplow's exploration into the subconscious using interior furniture. The projector stand for the videos was created in collaboration with Kristie Brengman.
Shana Kaplow's work is shown in conjunction with the work of Michael Sweere
Through April 27
Gallery hours are noon to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.