AURORA HUGHES VILLA'S PROVOCATIVE INSTALLATION Wall-Paper benefited from being placed in an intimate glass enclosure at the Seattle Design Center in Seattle, Washington, which freed visitors of other distractions. The exhibition, which ran from 26 to 31 March, was held in conjunction with NCECA 2012, was selected as one of its concurrent independent exhibitions.
Wallpaper, a familiar home design element that falls in and out of fashion depending on the influences of interior design, was widely embraced in Victorian times. In the installation, Hughes Villa used wallpaper in various incarnations as a potent metaphor for women's lives in a series of ceramic medallions, filtered through the nostalgic lens of the Victorian era.
Seen as a whole, the assemblage of medallions in various sizes, Overall View, created a vibrant three-dimensional wallpaper stretched across the length of one wall. Each clay medallion, composed from a palette of light and dark and blue, gold, rose, green and yellow and layered with wallpaper patterns, female portraits, architectural floor plans and generic body parts represented by medical illustrations, became a vignette worthy of further introspection. Hughes Villa drew some of her inspiration from the novella Yellow Wall-paper (written in 1892 by Charlotte Perkins Gilman) which describes the journal of a woman suffering from 'hysteria', who descends into madness after being confined by her physician husband to a wallpaper-covered room at a rented summer home.
Hughes Villa preoccupations, however, were not with mental illness. Her medallions captured fleeting moments in restricted lives of years gone by. As seen in Wall-paper Detail 1 and Wall-paper Detail 2, the textures and patterns from an assortment of wallpaper design motifs viscerally anchored the portraits to their domestic past. While she might have chosen other symbols of domesticity including photographs or drawings of homes, baby carriages or family life, it would have seemed static and scholarly compared to the fluid backdrop that the wallpaper provided.
Wall-paper Detail 3 illustrated that no two medallions were alike. Each medallion was capable of standing alone as a biographical statement for several anonymous subjects. Hughes Villa effectively chose several wallpaper samples to scan and manipulate in Photoshop that were converted to silkscreens. …