Oami Powers, detail of Adrift
December 1 - 31 // Upfront Gallery
“Don’t you remember?” they say. But I don’t. I have a vivid recollection of antlers hanging in a blue sky. The name of my third grade teacher, a meal we had in Madrid, or the plot of that movie we watched last year are long gone, as if I wasn’t there. Towards the end of her life my grandmother became unmoored from her memories and from herself. Will that happen to me? Memories feel tangible and definitive to us, but of course they are not. They are malleable and unreliable, changing each time we review them, and can even be invented or borrowed by someone else. They are connected in a web of associations: bermuda grass on a hot concrete sidewalk to a beach restless with chilly wind and water to a loose tooth pulled out with string when a door slammed shut.
The drift reflects that accumulation of tangled memory⸺bobby pins, a broken leg, polaroids, wishbones, tulips, 45 records, rose canes, feathers, nasturtium leaves⸺all jumbled, the mundane and the precious together. Elements shift in and out of focus, a dreamlike, fragmented realism that blurs into abstraction. The colors of the raw clay are a palette that speaks of bleached bones, organs, and earth. The drift is an echo, the residue of living.
This exhibition would not have been possible without the support of Kirk Newcross, Liz Esser, Jacquelyn Marie, and the incredible Artspace community.
Oami Powers, details of Adrift
Oami Powers is an American figurative artist whose expressive, gestural ceramic sculptures and drawings delve into themes of memory, nostalgia, grief, addiction, understanding of home and self. Raised in California and New Zealand, she has now lived in North Carolina for over a decade. Powers graduated from the University of Canterbury with a B.A. in Art History and Classical Studies and has studied with Cristina Cordova, Zoe Durfour, Alia El-Bermani and Felicia Forte. She works from her studio at Artspace in the heart of downtown Raleigh, where she was a 2018 North Carolina Emerging Artist in Residence. Her work has been in juried exhibitions nationwide, and was recently acquired by Duke Energy.