Ephemeral Memories

Until this fall, the Ishibashi Gallery’s walls have been a place to hang or project pieces created by visiting artists and Middlesex students. That changed in October, however, when the walls themselves became the canvas for award-winning artist Daniela Rivera, whose installation, Carried by a Whisper, lined the interior until Thanksgiving.

Then, the week of December 6th, a new installation took shape along the gallery’s main wall – this time created by visiting artist Guillermo Mena, who explores the ephemeral nature of memories through his work. Using charcoal that he made from wood collected during his most recent residency at Wellesley College, Mr. Mena spent hours over two days drawing impressions of memories as an attempt to understand “how memories are processed, how we interact with them while being aware of their ephemerality.”

And then, just like memories that flicker through the mind, the drawings were gone – erased almost as soon as they were completed. With the help of a dozen or so students taking AP Studio Art, Mr. Mena removed the images on December 9th, transforming them into a new drawing composed of smudges and swirls of charcoal dust.

His micro-residency at Middlesex was a great opportunity for students and adults alike to observe the creative process; all were welcome to stop by the gallery to watch or ask questions while Mr. Mena worked. He also met with visual arts and art history classes and engaged in discussions during lunch and dinner on campus. Students had plenty of questions for him, wondering how he discovered his chosen medium, how and when he would decide that a project was finished, and what it was like to invest so much time and energy in something that was intentionally impermanent.

Following his short stays in Wellesley and Concord, Mr. Mena moved on to a month-long residency in Reykjavik, Iceland, after which he planned to return to his home in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Meanwhile, Middlesex artists can reflect on the installation that briefly appeared – and wait to see what might happen next in the Ishibashi Gallery.