Trustman Art Gallery

Passions of the Soul: Stories We Tell Ourselves

Kathleen Bitetti, Rene Lynch, Michelle Muhlbaum, Tabitha Vevers

February 13 - March 22

Simmons University is pleased to present “Passions of the Soul: Stories we tell ourselves,” February 13-March 22, a new exhibit at the Simmons University Trustman Art Gallery, located on the fourth floor in the Main College Building, 300 The Fenway, in Boston. A reception will be held Thursday, Feb. 16, from 5–7 p.m. (snow date is Feb. 23). The exhibit and reception are free and open to the public.

When it is dark and cold, the flickering fire beckons us to sit and listen to a story. Four artists: Kathleen Bitetti, Rene Lynch, Michelle Muhlbaum, and Tabitha Vevers all exploit the currency of narrative in this exhibit, employing myth, fairytales, and visions of utopia and dystopia to weave new and reconfigured meaning. Through their work, the four artists ask questions, metamorphosing familiar stories to project new ideals and act as foils for societal values. They are by turns poetic, grotesque, transformative and conceptual. Their art remakes the familiar into something most wonderful.

In her work, Bitetti asks, “Who is the Fairest of Them All?” Childhood tales of heroes, princesses and villains inform our adult expectations. Bitetti’s witty anthropological survey of the Disney pantheon reveals the nature of these characters’ capabilities, and by inference, our own. Lynch’s poetical watercolors address our yearning for perfection, and a springtime of the mind. Her images of innocence recall to us the possibilities of childhood. Muhlbaum’s mixed media works magically transport us to various cultures’ tales. Her darkest work takes on the Holocaust, the 20th Century’s most woeful yet sadly true story. Vevers’ diminutive work packs beauty, revisionism and possibility within her pictorial worlds. Her Eden series allows the viewer to contemplate the duality of being human. Other works by Vevers transport us into a weirdly familiar future, where factories steam in the background and strange mutants inhabit caves, lost now to ordinary comforts.

The spirit of the exhibit speaks to French philosopher Rene Descartes’ treatise Passions of the Soul, which declares that wonder is the first of the passions. He states that something different, whether we find it agreeable or not, excites and surprises us and has no opposing passion, for the opposite of surprise is not a passion. “Passions of the Soul: Stories we tell ourselves” allows us as humans to dream a little, to re-imagine our future and our past. These artists remind us that stories are important, needing telling and remaking for every generation. They open us to wonder.

René Descartes, The Philosophical Works of Descartes—Two Volumes: The Passions of the Soul. trans. by Elizabeth S. Haldane, Elizabeth S. and G.R.T. Ross (USA: Dover Publications, 1955 edition), 358.

Trustman Art Gallery hours are 10 AM – 4:30 PM, Monday, Tuesday, and Friday, 10 AM – 7 PM on Wednesday and Thursday. The gallery is free, open to the public and wheelchair accessible. For more information, contact Kyle Mendelsohn at (617) 521-2268 or find us on Instagram.