“I have cast the faces of hundreds of individuals... Using a unique process where I shrink the life masks. As my signature heads decrease in size, their connection to the original fades—they are not portraits—yet they could not exist without the original life mask. My work thus maintains the unique qualities and emotional depth of the individual, while showing the commonality among diverse cultures.” (Louise McCagg, Artist’s Statement)
A.I.R. Gallery is pleased to announce Congregation, a site-specific installation of more than two hundred paper-cast mask face-prints by New York Artist Louise McCagg. This body of work, part of which was represented in the Hungarian Pavilion in the Venice Biennale in 2009, will be shown at the A.I.R. Gallery, Brooklyn, NY.
This piece creates a space in which the viewer is able to gaze at the hundreds of subjects without any of them gazing back. There is a disturbing quietness in the collection of silent faces. “Congregation” is, as stated in Saint Peters Church Press in 2000, a collection of souls.
In this body of work McCagg developed a technique of shrinking life masks and being able to control the sizes of the masks that range from the size of a grapefruit to that of a large marble.
As quoted by Nancy Stula, Executive Director of William Benton Museum of Art, University of Connecticut, Storrs: “Through casting, Louise explores the many ‘faces’ of a person and the nuances of their personality. She begins with an initial mold cast directly from the subject’s face, a life mask essentially. Because the masks are taken directly from the sitter, they bear the imprint of their faces, the texture of their skin. The eyes are always closed and this feature, a practical remnant of the process which starts with a life mask, serves to give the viewer the license to peek a little bit closer at Louise's heads and faces. If their eyes are closed they can't see us, to engage us in dialogue or to challenge us.”
Louise McCagg received her B.A. in English Literature from Barnard College in 1959, studied printmaking and painting at the Arts Students League in New York City, and then received her M.F.A. from Michigan State University in 1971. McCagg has shown extensively throughout the U.S. and internationally. She has exhibited at A.I.R. Gallery for over twenty-five years. At the moment, McCagg lives in New York City though she is drawing, her Parkinson's precludes further sculptural work.