Artist Rosamond Purcell will discuss her exhibit, “Exit, Pursued by a Bear: Reflections from Shakespeare,” in the de Menil Gallery at Groton School on October 23 at 7:15 p.m. The exhibit, featuring abstract images inspired by passages from Shakespeare, is on display in the de Menil until November 18. Purcell produced the images by photographing reflections in antique mercury-glass bottles.
The artist photographed zoological specimens in glass jars of formaldehyde for the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, after which she created a show of bizarre and decaying objects for the DeCordova Museum in Lincoln, Massachusetts. During one of her foraging expeditions through antique stores and rummage sales, she spotted some vintage mercury-glass jars. Photographs of scenes reflected in the bottles’ mirrored, rough-textured surfaces produced surreal images. When the director of the Folger Shakespeare Library asked her to collaborate on a book about Shakespeare, these shadowy reflections seemed fitting to Shakespeare’s allusive language. Purcell’s photographs, once printed on soft-textured paper, can be enjoyed either as abstract compositions or as a more literal response to the Shakespearean texts that accompany each print.