In the Morning We Sweep Out the Shadows is a solo exhibition by Chicago artist Dana Carter. Responding to the unique architectural character of the Comfort Station, Carter presents a site-specific installation that capitalizes on the aesthetic and metaphorical properties of light and shadow generated by the constant motion of traffic that circles the grounds of the building while using the space for studio experimentation. As the central work in the show, Carter incorporates the Comfort Station’s resident piano, installing on the instrument an oversized book made from remnants of the artist’s saltwater drawings on black fabric. Visitors are invited play the piano and interpret the imagery in the book as though it were a musical score.
The exhibition includes a series of poetic works of varying media that transform the building into a meditative space. In the light-based work Arrhythmia Carter manipulates the interior lights of the Comfort Station, making them rise and fall throughout the evening in an arrhythmic pattern. The work is viewed at night through the windows of the building. Carter further emphasizes the window as a framing device and portal in a series of plaster sculptures that mimic the shape of the glass panes in the door frames of the Comfort Station. Leaning against walls inside the building, these forms draw our attention to the presence and play of natural light through the colored shadows they cast.
As part of her installation, Carter will also produce a new stop-motion animated video inside the Comfort Station building. For the last several years Carter has developed a process of making animations by creating drawings cut from theatrical fabrics and using the existing ambient lighting conditions of the spaces in which her installations take place to illuminate them. While visiting the Comfort Station to plan for this show, the artist discovered that the resident piano in the space is actually a player piano with the scroll for “People Will Say We’re In Love” currently in place. The punch pattern on the scroll will be translated into the cutwork animation titled Automatic Expressions, a phrase lifted from the Ampico Piano Company’s owner’s manual posted inside the piano cover. Carter will be creating the video piece on various sunny days during the course of the exhibit in the bank of windows that face the traffic circle. The resulting video will be screened at the Comfort Station at a later date to be announced. –Michael Green, Director of Public Programs at The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.