By Rita Grendze, Artist of Synapses 4: Community
Synapses are what enable our nervous system to function: they mark the juncture, the intersection, where chemicals are released that allow impulses to travel between neurons and to communicate. This communication allows us to know we are happy, sad, scared or excited. We often hear of the moments when all synapses are firing at once: you are ON! You are with it! Everything is clear! You are reacting quickly and appropriately to the given situation.
Visually, I think of synapses as tenuous, sometimes interrupted, pathways. They can be string-like and old-fashioned (similar to telephone wires and poles) transmitting information along lyrical, even languid lines. Information travels and is processed at varying speeds, in a calm, quiet way. But I also see synapses interpreted as a staccato line: short, awkward dashes, tumbling over themselves like jumbled words, or beats pounded out and reverberating on a snare drum. Impulses so great that reactions are coming out faster than they have been truly processed. Speed. Anger. Frustration. Anxiety. Hopefully also joy.
The installation series Synapses is how I explore these ideas of communication and of missed communication. Using simple patterns, and beading techniques, I am drawing pathways in space with rope and tubes, connecting and interrupting lines to build giant textiles that can be manipulated into voluminous forms. These forms, in the midst of chaotic firings, are intended to imply safe spaces to feel, to think, to process.
In the previous iteration of Synapses 3 (Trillium), the subtitle trillium is a nod to the prairie flower common to the Fox River Valley. Unassuming and non-aggressive, this three leaved blossom grows from a large, strong root and rhizome system-sometimes taking as long as a year for a leaf to even emerge above ground.
Synapses 4 (community), is what you see here today. In doing a little research about the city of St. Charles, specifically about this building, I was struck by how similar to the trillium plant’s root system this Fox River valley community is. History centers, community activists, teachers, public works and dedicated volunteers are the underlying, often unseen and unsung heroes that create a network to uphold the community. It is through their tenacity the community grows and upon occasion, when the timing is right, really blooms.
The blooms, however, fade. Fall comes and the brilliant prairie knows it needs to rest until the following spring. It is just this fact, this known impermanence, that for me gives the flower even more value. I have chosen to try to emulate this by creating impermanent art. For me the magic is in the process, the discovery of ideas that lead to the building of an art work, that is shared briefly. I love this process. I will say it again: I absolutely love this process. The poignancy of something being fleeting, of it only lasting in real time for a short while, requires the viewer to tap into his or her own pathways, and find ways to remember.