Centerfold: Catherine Linder Spencer at WNYBAC

by / Jun. 5, 2018 5pm EST

CATHERINE LINDER SPENCER’s exhibit, Found Text Traces, opens at Western New York Book Arts Center, 468 Washington Street, this Thursday, June 7 and continues through July 7. There is an opening reception on Thursday, 5-8pm, and an artist’s talk on Saturday, June 16, 12-2pm.

From the artist’s statement about the show:

I am drawn to the marks and traces left on the visual environment from the history of industry and commerce in Buffalo’s East Side neighborhoods. Each mark tells a story, marks a moment in someone’s past and effortlessly reminds us of the layers of stories found on those buildings. Over the past 28 years, I have extensively explored the East Side of Buffalo, NY with my camera.  I have documented buildings and facades, the textures of their surface materials and the rusting or faded signs that define an important part of Buffalo’s past.  My ongoing series “Visual Vestiges” celebrates the extraordinary visual elements both vanished and still to be found in this important part of our shared urban landscape.

Found Text Traces emerged from my growing interest in found text: on buildings, vintage postcards, graffiti, ephemera.  I envisioned ‘writing’ architectural found text poems as an homage to the signage on the buildings on the East Side. What were those buildings used for?  How did the signage change as the businesses changed?  Who lived and worked in the buildings?  If their walls could talk, what stories would they tell us? Sharing other people’s stories through Found Text Traces not only celebrates the past but it also informs the future. I am hopeful that as a community we do not overlook the value and significance of reflecting on our past when making decisions for the future. Building a stronger sense of community while respecting history is how we come to greater understanding, and I believe, to compassion.

As the documentary filmmaker Ken Burns said regarding his work for PBS, “If we don’t know where we have been, how can we know where we are going?”