Critics’ Picks

Erin Stafford, Lovesick, 2018–19, glass pearl beads on panel, 32 1/2 x 39 1/4".

Erin Stafford, Lovesick, 2018–19, glass pearl beads on panel, 32 1/2 x 39 1/4".


Erin Stafford

Kirk Hopper Fine Art
3008 Commerce Street
April 13–May 18, 2019

By sifting through the wreckage of a vexing breakup, Erin Stafford has created elegiac curios, vignettes, and sculptures that serve as heirlooms and evoke the dread of erasure. With their perishable items, personal mementos, and baroque motifs, the fourteen works in “Lovesick” make up a Havisham-esque mausoleum and attest to the emancipation that mellowed acceptance can bring.

In A Lover’s Picnic Followed by Post-Coital Tristesse, 2019, a richly patterned crimson rug holds silver platters glutted with figs, pomegranates, honey, and pears; an absent couple is evoked through two velvet cushions, two glasses of blood-red wine, and a candelabra drooling molten wax. The opulence is indicative of the unchecked feelings one often lavishes on an amour, while the fruit, as it begins to rot, will come to suggest the excruciating vulnerability of being in a disintegrating relationship.

Lovesick, 2018–19, is a heraldic design of glass pearl beads, quartered with the titular motto. It is hung on a padded wall covered with claret satin fabric, which either lends an air of comfort or hints at the type of madness contained within a padded room. Elsewhere, You’ll Be There with Me When I Die, 2018, consists of two elaborate oval frames, mounted on the wall, that display hair, beads, and dried flora under glass. In one assemblage, gold locks twist around a rusted fork; in the other, a bent spoon rests on the dried skeleton of a cactus leaf. Both haunting arrangements seem to float on their dark grounds, as if seen underwater.

Stafford’s Victorian decadence endows the exhibition with nobility and a historicizing distance, elevating the act of mourning with formal splendor while nimbly avoiding the whimpering clichés of the brokenhearted.