Ebb & Flow / by Meg Saligman

Looking, listening, sharing, and collaborating are inseparable from the paint, the place, and the form. All of my work is site specific. “Ebb and Flow,” the large, central video that’s the centerpiece of the installation in the Crux Space Gallery, had its inception at the Stephen Klein Wellness Center on 21st and Cecil B Moore Avenue. This work began in North Philly, traveled through my studio, where it picked up a few digital portraits and is now on view at the Crux Space Gallery. When you stand in Crux and view the piece, consider this installation a visit from neighboring communities. 

Who defines the identity of a place, person or experience? Is it individual community members? Or is it something more amorphous – a collective voice? I am fascinated by the fluid relationship between the one and the many. The many comprise the large central work, “Ebb and Flow.” The photo frames, scattered about the gallery, tell individual stories and are titled “Sofia,” “Chloe,” “Callie,” “Meg” and “Neighbors.”

When “Ebb and Flow” was created, community members shared pieces of cloth that embodied their feelings of home. These cloths, and the stories behind them, came to represent an interconnectedness of community. Much like a woven cloth depends on each fiber to create something whole, our communities thrive through each and every member. Much like water travels; our lives flow with one another as an undulation of collective force. The organic, healing, flowing, and deeply personal nature of cloth and water was the artistic launching point for this video installation.

In “Ebb and Flow” you see snippets from my life and those of communities I collaborate with. You can see a wedding dress, a cloth my own grandmother hand painted 75 years ago, and a drill team uniform, all shimmering and blowing in the wind. Along with the cloth, water flows as you experience a tide off the back of our family boat, a puddle off a street corner, or a light shimmering in my kitchen sink. Individuals talk on the phone with one another and they interact with the flowing forces.

A painter at heart, I want to push the surface and see what lies beneath. This installation is an extension of my community based painted works. For this work, I paint with light and video. For this installation at Crux, I bring one community into another to see what this interaction inspires.