Stair-gazing: Anonda Bell

Main Staircase
February 22–June 16

Anonda Bell
Reproduction (Detail) from the series
“The Suburbs at 4 a.m.”
Acrylic, enamel, watercolor, ink on cut paper
Dimensions variable
Courtesy of the artist

Anonda Bell’s site-specific wall installation in the Art Center’s main stairwell is based on her recent series, “The Suburbs at 4 a.m.” Inspired in part by Alberto Giacometti’s iconic sculpture, The Palace at 4 a.m., this work explores the experience of women in the post-war era and addresses the anxieties and expectations surrounding domestic tranquility and reproduction.

This installation was inspired in part by Alberto Giacometti’s 1932 surrealist sculpture, The Palace at 4 a.m. That work, suggesting scaffolding or the skeleton of a building, is like a stage set with indications of people and activities at a luxurious palace in the middle of the night. Bell explains the connection to her work:
“My work has been made in response, and it is not intended to be a linear, illustrated story. It is instead a deliberately ambiguous and rambling mess of complicated impressions that may come from the mind of a suburban insomniac at 4 a.m. The work references ideas about gender, the value of labor, witchcraft, and the current climate in the United States (where women continue to be relegated to retrograde stereotypical roles, and at a time when women’s work outside the home is still only valued at around 80% of their male counterparts). For the women depicted in these works there is a niggling sense of impending doom associated with the threat of diminished rights over their own bodies.”

Anonda Bell is a New York and New Jersey-based curator and artist. Her work engages with psychology and the motivations, desires and innate qualities of the human mind. Bell is also the Director and Chief Curator of the Paul Robeson Galleries at Rutgers University, Newark.