On view through November 8, 2020.
Papercut artist Rosa Leff contemplates the notion of “adulting,” and how the current pandemic has altered the routine stuff of life, in her new solo exhibition Expectation/Reality, currently on view at The Art League Gallery through November 8, 2020.
According to Leff, sheltering-in-place and social distancing have forced everyone into the type of navel-gazing normally associated with whiny millennials. “2020 has leveled the playing field,” she says. “Whether you’ve been home since March or going in to work every day, it seems we’ve all been taking a little time to reflect on how we live, what we value, and what we truly want out of life—once it’s safe enough to go get it.”
Each piece in this collection is hand-cut from a single sheet of paper using an X-acto knife. In Leff’s hands the traditional folk art form gets a contemporary and personal spin, sparing none of its delicate intricacy. Paper towels are transformed into lacy doilies with sly and humorous messages that speak to our current condition. A plain white paper plate becomes fanciful, with an elaborate cutout of dragons reminiscent of those printed on Chinese takeout menus. Leff codes a paper crown with symbols of modern-day indulgences and preoccupations. Boardwalk and beach scenes conjure the fun possibilities of summer that never came to full fruition. At the same time, once-bustling cityscapes, based on photos Leff has taken in her home city Baltimore, are devoid of people and appear lonely and abandoned.
These and the other works in Expectation/Reality remind viewers of what Leff calls “the before-times,” contrasted to the stark reality of now.
The Art League Gallery is open to the public Wednesday through Saturday from 11:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M., and Sunday from noon to 5:00 P.M.
The Art League is located at 105 North Union Street, Alexandria, VA.