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Charlotte Richardson-Deppe ‘19 presents “Attachments”

Charlotte Richardson-Deppe ‘19’s new Smith Gallery exhibit, “Attachments,” features metal and fiber structures that hang from the walls and ceiling of the Gallery. The structures are composed of red and white cloth stretched to join the metal frames by hand stitching. Nothing touches the floor. The south wall of the gallery contains text summarizing the exhibition: a representation on the nature of attachments and their implications.

Richardson-Deppe explores the relationships between different kinds of attachments through a language of metal and cloth she made herself.

“Everything is interconnected. Without the metal, the cloth wouldn’t have any form. Without the cloth, the metal wouldn’t have any color … They need to be attached to one another to survive and exist,” said Richardson-Deppe.

The three main inspirations for Richardson-Deppe’s exhibit are Lauren Berlant’s 2011 book “Cruel Optimism” about unachievable desires, artist Sara Cwynar’s video collages and Maggie Nelson’s 2015 genre-defying memoir, “The Argonauts.” Together, these texts helped Richardson-Deppe arrive not at a concept, but at a form. “Attachments” is a formal composition that Richardson-Deppe created not through planning, but by letting the work develop naturally.

“I let the material and the process guild me. I made the sculptures before I thought about the concept … these theories are what fed the concept behind [Attachments],” Richardson-Deppe said.

Richardson said that, according to Berlant, all attachments are optimistic: “Whenever you attach on to something, you project your own desires and needs onto the thing you’re attaching to.”

Through different material attachments represented in the gallery, Richardson-Deppe explores relationships between different kinds of attachments, the inevitability of attachments and what makes attachments good or bad.

“Attachments are not necessarily bad if what you’re projecting onto them matches what they can give you,” Richardson-Deppe said. “[And] according to Maggie Nelson, no one can be independent. The thing that makes independence possible is actually reliance … [your attachments] are what make you able to have autonomy.”

To create the show, Richardson-Deppe drew out the rectangular frames and planned their placement. Then, she made the rectangles out of one-eighth of an inch to one-half of an inch of steel and covered the shapes with cloth. All objects must abide by her system of attachments.

“In my language, everything is as close to a right angle as it can be. Everything is only red and white. Everything is only rectangles. Everything is hung,” Richardson-Deppe said.

“Attachments” is Richardson-Deppe’s first solo show at the College. As a junior, she created a joint show, “Shelf Life,” with Anne Rogers ‘19. Before college, she didn’t make any visual art and thought she would study English or GWSS in college and, even as a studio art major, Richard-Deppe said she is still discovering new dimensions to her artistic practice. Metalworking was introduced to her through an art class in her third year.

After interning at a weaving studio and holding residency at a museum in New York city last summer, Richardson-Deppe hopes to go back east and apply for residencies, internships and jobs in the art world. She is also considering applying for a ninth semester in the art department at the College or getting a Master of Fine Arts in sculpture. But even though the future might be uncertain, a constant is that art will feature prominently.

“Attachments” at the Smith Gallery deals with themes of connection and desire. Photos by Sofia Mendez.


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