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Square collage by Aldwyth. Dark green border around a square collage. Inside the border is a black square with an off-white circle in the center. Various cut out images and words are scattered on the paper. A woman in profile faces left. A picture of an ant covers her nose.

This is Not: Aldwyth in Retrospect

February 2 - October 7, 2023

Now in her mid-eighties, the artist Aldwyth has lived and worked alone in an octagonal house overlooking a salt marsh on one of South Carolina’s sea islands since 1980. For most of her adult life she has maintained her seclusion from the larger art world while utilizing the history of art and ideas as a catalyst for complex found-object sculptures and increasingly epic-scaled collages that often recall medieval manuscripts writ large.

This retrospective spans nearly seventy years of Aldwyth’s work, beginning with photography and moving through experimental painting, assemblage, and collage while touching on personal themes and fascinations that have remained remarkably consistent throughout her career. A tireless innovator, Aldwyth’s self-imposed rules both limited and liberated her, allowing her work to be self-contained and self-referential. Each piece is an illustration of the description that defines it, and vice-versa.

To preserve her critical perspective, Aldwyth almost never submitted her work to curators, jurors, galleries, museums, or grant panels. Once, momentarily loosening this personal regime to apply to the South Carolina Arts Commission for a fellowship, she ignored guidelines that specified a work sample as well as a resume and instead submitted a work sample that was her resume (see resumé/re-sume, 1999). While such a contrarian attitude turbo-charged her creativity, it also insured that her work remained almost completely unknown. That application was rejected.

Fortunately, Aldwyth seems indifferent to rejection. She wants her work to be approached on its own merits and perceived through its own internal logic. If a viewer finds meaning and worth in it, great, but if not, it was just not meant to be.

This exhibition marks a pivotal moment when an artist who has spent considerable time and energy meditating on the nature of exclusion finally emerges to take her place in the pantheon of art history. After long decades spent working in the margins as an energetic and enlightened observer known only to a handful of friends and collectors, she now steps fully into the light for the rest of us to admire and appreciate.

–Mark Sloan, Curator

This is Not: Aldwyth in Retrospect was curated by Mark Sloan (with associate curator Joshua Massey and curatorial assistant Tori Lusik) and organized by Curioso in collaboration with the Greenville County Museum of Art and the Gregg Museum of Art & Design at NC State.