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Marsha Cottrell, Old Museum (Interior_7), 2015, laser toner on paper, 9 1/4 × 11 1/2".

Marsha Cottrell

Eleven Rivington

Marsha Cottrell, Old Museum (Interior_7), 2015, laser toner on paper, 9 1/4 × 11 1/2".

A polestar is something that’s the main attraction. And ancient technology: Visible to the naked eye, it aligns with the vertical axes of the earth’s rotation, burning at due north to guide you home if your compass (or GPS) conks out. Because stars drift and die, and the planet spins and spins, the polestar’s identity changes over time.

Astronomy came to my mind at Marsha Cottrell’s strong exhibition, and not just because her works, with their gauzy orbs and crepuscular rays, invoke what’s beautiful and abstract about the field, from early-nineteenth-century celestial diagrams to a view of the moon through a space helmet. Transient fixity as a guiding principle seems an apt description of Cottrell’s inventive process.

I first saw the artist’s work in an elegant group exhibition at the gallery this past winter. She was shown in the company of a number of distinct photographers,

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