Along the side wall of the gallery, two plates of black Dead Skin paper lay on a table, their texts carved out but not yet cast. Before them on a work bench lie slabs of wax and a belt of tools. For this piece ("Waters Edge," constructed on site), O'Connell emphasizes the influence of a space to a material process, as the dimensions of the Wharf Street gallery — spatial, historical, and otherwise — cannot help but inform its message. Neither can the process itself. Both the viscosity of the beeswax and the artist's homespun, painstaking methodology offer an aura of warmth to these text fragments, which could otherwise easily be read as cold and abject. These texts may be torn from their original use, but according to O'Connell, such is the nature of language. It's a success, then, that her works engender them with equally powerful connotations.

Nicholas Schroeder can be reached at nschroeder@phx.com.

"...ARE AS THE POLES ASUNDER" | Tablets and text works by Megan O'Connell | through April 29 | at 37-A Gallery, 37-A Wharf St., Portland | thirtysevena.com

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