Timothy Ringsmuth’s mixed-media installation Alluvium (2014) is a thought-provoking composition that explores the transience of life and time, as well as contrasting attitudes towards domesticity. In the words of the gifted artist, “I am interested in the ways that repetition becomes a strong element in domestic life, acting as a kind of rhythm over time. I look at elements that might normally be labeled drudgery or abject and try to shift them into a realm of meditation, or present them as markers of life.” Nature also performs repetitive actions that represent the passage of time like the sediment washing repeatedly over a river bed, forming an alluvial deposit that contains not only clay and silt but possibly gold and precious gemstones. Ringsmuth’s inspirational work shines like one of those found gems.
In creating this installation, the artist states that she was also influenced by Memento Mori, (translation- Remember, You Must Die) in which corporeal memorabilia of deceased loved ones, such as hair, ashes, and teeth were encased in glass jewelry pieces. As human beings, we naturally perceive the passage of time and most of us acknowledge the inevitability of our own mortality. The cultures that used Memento Mori have in common a respect for the rhythm of life and death and the recognition that seemingly depressing tokens can actually bring comfort to the bereaved. Ringsmuth united hair strands from her own hairbrush, tied them into bows, and then encased them in hand-blown glass spheres, thus transforming the discarded into lasting beauty. The artist has a background in photography and glass and believes that both change the way things are seen. Ringsmuth’s interest in the unique vision offered by the photographic lens is evident in the captured images of the glass spheres hung on the wall. Other crystal orbs and globes fan out from the photographs towards the viewer forming a beautiful, serene installation that resembles nature’s own impermanent river bed deposits.
In Alluvium, the artist has used a part of herself, thus creating an existential reflection on her own life. The work suspends us into meditation, alters our grief over death, and invites us to celebrate the daily, repetitive qualities of our lives as honorable markers of time.
By: Kathy Miller Stewart