Cynthia Lahti


“Daughter,” a recent exhibition by Cynthia Lahti, a long-underrecognized artist’s artist based in Portland, included works in a variety of media, all addressing the bonds of love and grief as experienced by girls in the same family tree. Lahti’s purposefully raw, emotionally direct objects bring to mind the accidental elegance of childhood craft projects, but here the results are fraught with disturbing nuances that make a viewer wonder: Can one feel nostalgia for pain?

The Kip Twins, 2007, for example, is a small plaster sculpture composed of two busts of twin girls set side by side. At first glance, they have near-identical facial features and sport identical French-twist hairdos. On closer inspection, however, differences appear out of the girls’ small-scale flaws—a broken nose on one, a long mouth on the other. In a different artist’s hands the not-quite-identical twins might suggest

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