Worn finish, missing spindles and patched upholstery tell a story in Jennifer Babcock’s exhibition of paintings titled “No Empty Chairs” currently hanging in the Corridor Gallery.
A native Virginian, Babcock grew up surrounded by chairs that her father collected and repaired. Over time, the family chairs came to mean more to her than just places to sit. As part of her opening reception last Friday, Babcock explained what these chair “portraits” mean to her. Like an archaeologist finding cultural significance in ancient treasures, these unassuming, mundane objects represent to Babcock the lives and memories of her family. The lovingly captured, colorful canvases act as an abstract family album, portraying the people and stories that give her a deep sense of self.
Listening to her presentation and viewing her work made me reflect upon my own grandparent’s home and the objects that pervade my childhood memories. My grandfather’s collection of Native American art, my grandmother’s crocheted afghans, and a roll of stamps that always sat in their kitchen window. I think that besides telling her personal story, Babcock’s chairs are meant to remind us of our own roots because in the end, our family memories will be our greatest treasure.
(Post by Corey Egbert ’15. Photos by Matt Anderson ’17.)