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At the Threshold
curated by Lisa Russman

May 21 - July 16 2022
Reception May 21, 2-5 PM


At the Threshold is a group photography  exhibition that explores the emerging sense of self experienced by  adolescent girls on the brink of adulthood. Through a narrative lens, photographers Holly Andres,  Gay Block, Cig Harvey, and Rania Matar relay this collective experience and search for identity  through intriguing cinematic scenes, compelling environmental portraits, and surreal moments in  time. Guest curated by Lisa Russman, the exhibition runs through July 16. 


The transition between girlhood and womanhood, though fleeting, is a raw and mysterious stage  for those of us experiencing it, and for those of us reliving it. In Holly Andres’ series Sparrow  Lane, 2008, three curious girls find clues and discover secrets within vivid, Hitchcockian domestic   interiors. Like the covers from 1970s Nancy Drew mysteries, the girls are placed in stylized  groupings,   with color-saturated costumes and props within vintage, foreboding scenes reminiscent  of stills from films like Carrie or Rosemary’s Baby. Forbidden knowledge, mischief, and a loss of  innocence unfold in an ambiguous narrative, while iconography like scissors, mirrors, a flashlight,  and a bird cage serve as psycho-sexual metaphors. Andres builds dramatic tension by presenting  empowered adolescents who dare to think independently and take risks yet are nonetheless  restrained by traditional convention and our own voyeurism. 


Within that domestic sphere is the most private of sanctuaries, the bedroom. For an adolescent, it  is often a private space of escape, freedom, childhood indulgences (like stuffed animals) and  experimentation (like hair, makeup, and clothes). For photographer Rania Matar to have earned  the trust of these teens to create her series, A Girl and Her Room, is astonishing. Their vulnerability  and sheer “in-betweenness” is poignantly expressed by Destiny, by her bed of Tweety Birds, and  Emma P., within a sea of discarded clothing. 



In Gay Block’s Girl by Car at the Tesuque Village Market, Santa Fe, NM, 1996, an adolescent girl  nonchalantly drapes herself against a car. Her physicality is striking – she is confident in bright  orange clothing and an uninhibited posture. She is indifferent to the car she leans upon, which is  practically bursting with an open door and dangling seatbelt. A raised hand suggests that she is  guarded and slightly vulnerable. Above all else, her arresting gaze challenges the viewer. Block has  captured this intersection of blissful, unassuming girlhood and knowing, powerful womanhood – a  defining moment of adolescence.



This frozen moment, even of an everyday experience, can come to symbolize a rite of passage in  our memory. In the series You Look at Me like an Emergency, 2001- 2010, Cig Harvey searches  for identity and home, through dream-like snapshots of cropped or hidden figures, capturing  fleeting moments which we might have otherwise forgotten. The moments are ours to interpret: a  glimpse of a summer afternoon bored by childish backyard games, searching for the cat in the  yard, and lying in the grass. Harvey’s magical and transformative images are either representative  of that short stretch of time that was adolescence or that interminable wait for something to  happen that is adolescence. Or they are both. 


As a group, these photographs point to our moment at the threshold. 

image © Holly Andres, courtesy Robert Mann Gallery. The Heart Shaped Locket, 2008. From the series ‘Sparrow Lane.' 25 x 20 inch chromogenic dye coupler print. Edition of 12.

See exhibition images here. 

Checklist is available here.  


594 Valley Road, Mews Courtyard

Montclair NJ 07042

917 755 9328

Gallery Hours:

Thursday  12-5

Friday        12-5

Saturday   12-5

and by appointment.

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