scorecardresearch Skip to main content

Things and ‘thneeds’ — and what they say about us

‘An Object’s Promise: The Magical Thinking We Attach to Our Things’ examines the syntax of stuff at Fort Point Art Community’s Assemblage Art Space.

Suzanne Moseley, "Woven Together," two-sided, repurposed clothing, woodblock, cyanotype and digital prints, and deer mesh.Image courtesy of the artist

Adrienne Shishko focuses on consumerism’s easy-come, easy-go attitude, recycling clothes and plastics in her mixed-media works. Printmaker Suzanne Mosely relishes the resonance of keepsakes. Together, they have mounted “An Object’s Promise: The Magical Thinking We Attach to Our Things” at Fort Point Art Community’s Assemblage Art Space.

Most of us have items with which we deeply identify: things that are merely useful, and ones that just take up space. They are physical manifestations of our complicated relationships with status, desire, loss, capitalism, and the earth.

Moseley and Shishko make visually dense work, and the exhibition, ironically, is cluttered with too many art objects, which muddies their rich concept. But in places, several individual pieces coalesce into pulsing installations in which forsaken materials take on new life.


Shishko’s “strategies of containment,” five neon-toned cubes woven from plastic mesh produce bags, floats over her floor piece “the energy of my tribe,” a rainbow of concentric circles of reclaimed fabric threaded through fencing. The two works together are like stones dropping into a pond in a psychedelic forest. In a catalog essay, she connects her endearing “totem” sculptures of reclaimed fiber, wood, and metal to the Truffula trees in “The Lorax,” Dr. Seuss’s cautionary tale about the environment, which were felled to make “thneeds,” which “everyone needs.”

Adrienne Shishko, "Totem Triptych 2," repurposed clothing, wood, metal, and plastic. Image courtesy of the artist

Many of Moseley’s prints honor her husband, Tom, who died in 2016. For “Vibrant Memories,” an installation of 12 screenprints, she layered images of old shoes, a hat, a family crest — here as fragmented and intangible yet palpable as memory — and built her own kind of totem.

In “Woven Together,” she adds fragments of old cyanotypes to a large, double-sided weaving that includes fabric from her old clothes on one side and those of her late husband on the other. The rise and fall of the blue cyanotypes along the bottom reads, sweetly, like a charted heartbeat.


Our belongings speak a language. Artists make objects steeped in meaning and are well-equipped to parse the grammar and syntax of stuff. Mosely and Shishko come at things from different angles. For both, though, the promise of objects lies in the making, as they synthesize old into new and consecrate what’s been lost along the way.

AN OBJECT’S PROMISE: The Magical Thinking We Attach to Our Things

At Fort Point Arts Community’s Assemblage Art Space behind the Envoy Hotel, 70a Sleeper St., through June 14.

Cate McQuaid can be reached at