I'm honored to be featured in Peripheral Vision, No. 2 in a compelling and insightful article about my recent work by Lisa Volpe, Associate Curator, Photography at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston.
The Numinous Artwork of Adrienne Elise Tarver
by Lisa Volpe
Numen is the best word. Though this term—drawn from Roman paganism—is far removed from our contemporary context, it remains the best description of the method by which artist Adrienne Elise Tarver’s project succeeds. A numen is a spirit, especially one believed to inhabit a particular object. Though the word might seem foreign or antiquated, the concept is familiar, even in our digital age. We all have a tendency to collect numinous objects: the tassel from your graduation cap, a pressed flower from a romantic date, or a scruffy teddy bear that is emblematic of childhood. Numinous objects “concretize [the] abstract.” With these objects, concepts such as being, time, and/or memory are embodied in the tangible. This connection is not inherent; instead it is created and can die away. A numinous object exists as long as a single person remembers the connection between the object and the significant person, place, or event it references. In the same way, a numen loses its power when all those who remember the association are lost.
Numinous objects reveal more than memories, they speak to psychological needs. Psychologist Paul Bloom argues that the history of an object changes how we experience it. Bloom emphasizes that our pleasure with an object increases with knowledge of its history. In short, we desire objects with history. In her work, Tarver builds upon this connection between objects, history, and desire in order to investigate issues of transgression and voyeurism. In her multi-media installation, Eavesdropping, Tarver constructs and presents a host of numinous objects, making concrete the abstract concepts of knowledge and desire...