6 April 2008 12:25 PM
At once compelled and repulsed by his family’s clutter of relics, Aaron McIntosh has devised an ingenious practice of quilting that allows him to both organize and re-symbolize the material detritus of a young man’s life. Using techniques and materials both familiar and not, McIntosh stitches together meaningful stuff in combinations that reveal poignant, interrelated themes. Pockets of pale brown human hair and childish drawings of anatomy bespeak a tender focus on the young body. Pages excised from romance novels write of courtly love, while those torn from dictionaries connote categorization and labeling, and therefore stereotyping. The recurrent motif of the target loops together many of these themes, giving them a painful but indirect quality, much as in the work of Jasper Johns, king of the target, who used the mark as a secret sign for the doubly targeted homosexual body: at once the focus of desire and danger, love and despair. McIntosh invokes these themes too, but where Johns encased them in the mummifying material of encaustic, McIntosh carefully swaddles them in the soft, precious fabric of a quilt.