Joellyn Duesberry has been a consummate painter of the natural world and has achieved a stature commensurate with her remarkable accomplishments. She is gifted with the capacity to render in paint and print the intertwining of intimate experience – memories of a particular space – with a universality that encompasses all of our deepest, inchoate longings for the edenic beauty, the vitality and plenitude of the natural world.
On September 11, 2001 at 8:45 AM – in an instant – the unthinkable happened. How does art intervene in the erasures of history and humanity that occurred on 9/11? What cannot or should not be represented? What is the role of art in testimony, memorial, mourning and healing? In the late 1990’s, the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council began granting studio space in empty buildings in lower downtown to deserving artists. Duesberry applied for and was granted – auspiciously in light of the events that would transpire – a studio space for six months on the East River side of the North Tower of the World Trade Center on the `91st floor.
The cityscapes in this exhibition derive from that fruitful time. Duesberry’s paintings make us feel the primitive shock of a terrifying instant – shredding our cocoons, dispelling our virtual fog and blocking our desperate need to return to our patterns of normalcy. This work seeks not only to testify and commemorate but also to assist us in recovering our own deep capacity for empathic responsiveness. Calamity has a way of restoring us to kindness.
Simon Zalkind, Curator
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