This painting transcribes an Anne Carson translation of a fragment of a poem written by Sappho—a fragment that speaks of the moon, the stars, and, perhaps most evocatively, the position the stars assume of “hiding back their luminous form.” Presented as white text on a black ground, deliberately employing the humble status of cardboard, the painting repeats the performance of the fragment, the “hiding back.” The painting asks us to take the time to decipher the text, to lift up our eyes and notice not only the brightness of the full moon, but also the luminosity of the stars.
karen elaine spencer (b. 1960) maintains a studio practice, performs, curates, and writes. In projects oscillating between street performance, gallery exhibitions, and dissemination via the web, spencer questions hierarchies and investigates how we, as transient beings, occupy the world we live in. Since obtaining her MFA from the Université du Québec à Montréal in 2001, she has been awarded several international residencies, including the Paris Studio, the International Studio and Curatorial program (ISCP Brooklyn), and the John Snow House AIR (Calgary). Recent exhibitions include One Day, ELLEPHANT (Toronto, 2016); letters home/lettres à ma mère, Galerie B-312 and ELLEPHANT (Montreal and Toronto, 2015); Coming to Terms, Little Berlin (Philadelphia, 2015); New York Stories: Twenty Years of ISCP (Brooklyn, 2014); La Moitié du Monde est une Femme, Grande Bibliothèque (Montreal, 2013); and Transient Traces, Le Mur Saint Martin (Paris, 2011). Her work is held in the collections of Air Canada, the Richmond Art Gallery, the Canada Council Art Bank, the Bibliothèque Nationale du Québec, the Musée d’art contemporain de Baie-Saint-Paul, the Richmond Women’s Resource Centre Association, and the Mount Saint Vincent University Art Gallery, and in private collections in Canada and the US.